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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Hardcover – Sep 12 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (Sept. 12 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375404538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375404535
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 4 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Ware's graphically inventive, wonderfully realized novel-in-comics follows the sad fortunes of four generations of phlegmatic, defeated men while touching on themes of abandonment, social isolation and despair within the sweeping depiction of Chicago's urban transformation over the course of a century. Ware uses Chicago's World's Colombian Exposition of 1893, the great world's fair that signaled America's march into 20th-century modernity, as a symbolic anchor to the city's development and to the narrative arc of a melancholic family as haplessly connected as are Chicago's random sprawl of streets and neighborhoods. In 1893, nine-year-old Jimmy Corrigan is abandoned atop a magnificent fair building by his sullen, brutish father ("I just stood there, watching the sky and the people below, waiting for him to return. Of course he never did"). Nearly a century later, another Jimmy CorriganDthe absurdly ineffectual, friendless grandson of that abandoned childDreceives a letter from his own long-absent, feckless father, blithely and inexplicably requesting him to come and visit. Ware's surprisingly touching story recounts their strange and pathetically funny reunion, invoking the emotional legacy of the great-grandfather's original act of desertion while presenting a succession of Corrigan men far more comfortable fantasizing about life than living it. The book is wonderfully illustrated in full color, and Ware's spare, iconic drawing style can render vivid architectural complexity or movingly capture the stark despondency of an unloved child. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ware's hero is a doughy, middle-aged loser who retreats into fantasies that he is "The Smartest Kid on Earth." The minimal plot involves Jimmy's tragicomic reunion with the father who abandoned him in childhood. In abruptly juxtaposed flashbacks, Ware depicts previous generations of Corrigan males, revealing how their similar histories of rejection and abandonment culminated in Jimmy's hapless state. What makes the slight story remarkable is Ware's command of the comics medium. His crisp, painstaking draftsmanship, which sets cartoonish figures in meticulously detailed architectural settings, is matched by his formal brilliance. Ware effectively uses tiny, repetitive panels to convey Jimmy's limited existence, then suddenly bursts a page open with expansive, breathtaking vistas. His complex, postmodern approach incorporates such antiquated influences as Windsor McCay's pioneering Little Nemo strips and turn-of-the-century advertising, transforming them into something new, evocative, and affecting. His daunting skill transforms a simple tale into a pocket epic and makes Jimmy's melancholy story the stuff of cartoon tragedy. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the first few pages of JIMMY CORRIGAN, the reader is introduced to the Super-Man, dressed in a red and yellow suit and wearing a cheap costume mask. He tells bad jokes and ends up seducing Jimmy's mother. The stage is set for a comic without heroes (or with only pathetic ones), confused children with lonely parents, and a humor that fails to conceal the underlying sadness.
There's a strange two dimensionality to the images, which makes it more illustration than drawing. Buildings tend to be drawn in elevation, interiors are in orthographic views, and simple shapes predominate. The effect is an abstraction of the environment that crosses temporal bounds, enters fantasies and nightmares, and recollects cruel memories.
Like Spiegelman and Clowes, Chris Ware takes his comic into areas that are usually considered to be the territory of literature, but it would require immense effort to imagine JIMMY CORRIGAN in novel form. The content and the form are inseparable. The story may be a downer, but ultimately it isn't depressing because it is well-told, well-illustrated, and somewhere within it is an awful truth about misogyny, race, childhood trauma, and isolation that we'd just rather not face.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll start off by saying that I read about 40 pages of this book before getting slightly confused and even bored at times. I have read many graphic novels, but this style in particular was just not something that I was used to. I think many people would be in the same boat.

To quote another reviewer, the story is very "unilaterally single-minded - about the pathology and sadness of being a Corrigan." So that tends to get tiring sometimes when you're reading the book and you may want more depth about a different character in the story.

After visiting this site and reading other reviews, I decided that this story wasn't something I should miss. So I gave it another go and continued where I had left off. What I discovered is that each panel should be taken in slowly. Most are profound in their message, whether you are making it up in your head or not. even if you read it quickly the first time, go back and really look at some of those images over again. I'm not even sure I would read this over again for a while, since the sadness seems to seep into every part of the book and reader, but I imagine it's just as thoughtful the second time around. The characters are tragic, yet fascinating. I can't say it's the most uplifting or revolutionary story ever, but it's definitely worth sticking with.

Whether or not one enjoys the story, it's nearly indisputable that the illustrations are some of the best from a novel of this nature. The information graphics are beautifully drawn and laid out. They can be very complex, so re-reading and re-visualizing them helps. I would recommend this book solely for that even if the story wasn't great as well (luckily for us, it is).
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Ware deserves a lot of admiration for writing and illustrating this graphic novel. It took him years to finish this 400-page tale of an unhappy, withdrawn man. The story wanders a bit, forcing you to really pay attention. (Honestly, you'll like it better the second time.) At first, his artwork seems to contradict the mood of the story --- everything is drawn with the color and lines of logos, street signs, and architectural diagrams. Everything is rendered in flat pastels. But as you continue, the panels start to look empty, with a false cheer to it. It's a style that underscores the plot.
Chris Ware could have spent years writing a big graphic novel about superheroes, wizards, or vampires --- you know, something easy. But he didn't. Instead, he stuck his neck out and created this, one of the best graphic novels ever written, but also one that challenges the reader. Chris Ware makes it clear what a real graphic novel is. It's an expert use of the comic book medium that deserves a much larger audience.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, Chris Ware did a great job with this book. Let me start out by stating how deceptively simple the art is. At first, you start out thinking this'll be a cute and fun read, but as you read further into it, things get much darker and more depressing.
The story revolves around 37 year-old James Corrigan who we find out is a lonely, emotionally-impaired, human castaway. All the sudden his father, whom he's never met, decides he wants to spend time with Jimmy. Throughout the entire book, we go through not so seamless transitions into his fantasies and daydreams. At times, it can get confusing as to where they begin or end, but that's the whole point sometimes. We also go through other generations of Jimmy's family to take a look at their tribulations.
The story can get really depressing at times. Throughout the book, you're hoping for something good to happen to the protaginist. But just because of the overall depressing elements in the book doesn't mean there isn't any humor in it. There are some funny moments, but they tend to be subtle.
If you're into graphic novels, or even if you're not, I urge anyone who's in for a decent story to read this. Just don't expect the feel-good story of the year.
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