Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jimmy Corrigan: Last Man on Earth

Jimmy Corrigan is a story spanning four generations of the Corrigan family with the central story being that of Jimmy. Jimmy Corrigan is 36 years old, calls his mother every day and is all but unable to talk to women. The story is frequently punctuated with fantasies that Jimmy has. I chose to analyze one of these fantasies.

The fantasy takes place after Jimmy and Amy had looked through Jimmy’s dad’s pictures. After a mostly one sided conversation Amy heads to bed leaving Jimmy alone. Jimmy then fantasizes that they are both sitting together holding hands when a nuclear explosion goes off outside. Jimmy then throws himself onto Amy telling her to “Get Down” and saves her. They soon after realize that civilization is completely destroyed and that they are the only two people left on Earth. The scene flash forwards and Jimmy is shown a fit strong man wielding an ax and chopping wood. Amy is shown carrying a baby and wearing little clothing. A small fan clicking on then snaps Jimmy out of his fantasy.

This is consistent with most of the fantasies that the characters have through the graphic novel. Jimmy’s fantasies often involve him in some sort of hero role doing something to get a girl. In this fantasy Jimmy saves Amy from the nuclear blast. This is a fantasy not uncommon for many men. Lots of people like to imagine themselves saving the girl and having her fall in love with him. Jimmy’s fantasy is a bit different from this though because in addition to the girl saving, his fantasy also has Amy and Jimmy being the last two people on Earth. This extra detail shows that even in his fantasies Jimmy is insecure. Despite the fact that he portrays himself as a hero he still imagines them being the only two people left in the world. This essentially assures that Amy will fall for Jimmy. Additionally, since they are the only people left in the world Jimmy now doesn’t have to worry about his mother or any of the (few) other people in his life.

The next important detail of the fantasy is the image of Jimmy wielding an axe. No longer is he an overweight out of shape man. Here he is portrayed as being fit and muscular. Jimmy is shown chopping down a tree. Amy then approaches him holding a Jimmy’s baby. There is a log cabin which Jimmy must have built. These panels show how Jimmy wishes he could be. He his now a strong good looking man with a wife and kid.

I think the key idea here is that Jimmy Corrigan is getting a fresh start. I think everyone at some point in their life has wanted a “do over”. Jimmy just wants to be able to take another shot at life without having all those people in his life that made it so much harder for him. No one around to judge him and make fun of his strange quirks, just a woman who loves him and a family. I think this desire for a family idea is further emphasized by the fact that Jimmy looks a picture of his father’s family after he returns to reality.

Jimmy’s fantasies often show him being a hero, saving the girl and living happily ever after. Unfortunately for Jimmy these fantasies are far from his reality, thus why they are fantasies. Jimmy the 36 year old man who can’t talk to women is left only with his fantasies.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

This is a great little part of the book, isn't it? There are actually a number of directions in which this could be expanded...

1) What does race have to do with Jimmy's fantasy?

2) Your idea that he needs to fantasize an empty world before he can fantasize being with Amy is very nice; in the background here is the idea "I wouldn't sleep with you unless you were the last man on earth." Jimmy is such a beta male that he can't imagine having sex unless he literally _is_ the last man on earth.

3) The book is extremely nuanced historically; this part is set in the 80s, when nuclear war seemed like a distinct possibility. Jimmy is very much a creature of the 80s here, conditioned by a set of technological and social ideas.