Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chris Ware’s “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth” follows the life of Jimmy Corrigan, who is, as Ware explains, “a lonely, emotionally-impaired human castaway.” Ware makes it perfectly clear in every frame that Jimmy is lonely. He is usually only seen with another person for business purposes rather than friendly scenarios, and does not speak much to them at all. He does not have any friends and cannot talk to any women other than his mother, who calls him constantly and who he calls at least once a day.

Jimmy had never met his real father and was surprised when his father sent him plane tickets to meet him. While visiting, Ware depicts a scene throughout three pages where Jimmy writes a letter to his father, in which he introduces himself, and begins to daydream while mailing it. His daydreams are cut short when the mail truck hits him and he must go to the hospital. It is not entirely clear whether or not Jimmy actually wrote a letter to his father or if it was another dream of his, because at the time of the scene, he was already visiting, but the frames show his thought process and rough drafts. He is indecisive, crosses out words, and writes a couple different versions of an introduction, and then he declares that he doesn’t know what to say.

While in the process of mailing the letter, Jimmy notices a deer crossing sign. He stops to look at it a while and thinks about his letter. Then he steps in a puddle, which made his foot wet. He became upset about his wet foot and stopped what he was doing to worry about it. In the midst of his worries, some deer appear beside a building and Jimmy immediately turns his focus onto them. He had never seen real deer and was curious about them. He stood thinking for a short while about how they behave until the mail truck screeched and broke his thought. Ware uses these short thoughts to show how uneventful and uninteresting Jimmy’s life is.

On the second page of this scene, one frame seems like it does not fit. It is a picture of Jimmy sitting in his chair physically writing the letter. The first thing to notice about this picture is that it is in the center of the page, which almost always catches the eye immediately. Also, instead of being a part of the outdoor setting in which the scene is taking place, this frame is taking place indoors. Lastly, the coloring of this particular frame is not yellow, as it is throughout the rest of the scene. The green tone of the room that Jimmy is in stands out against the other frames, which draws the reader’s attention.

In this frame, the chair, pencil, notepad, and window are much bigger in proportion to Jimmy than they normally would be. Ware does this to indicate to the readers that Jimmy feels inadequate and self-conscious. Because he is so small, it seems that Jimmy has no control over what happens in his life, and this is proven repeatedly throughout the story. This could also be an indication of Jimmy’s mindset. Perhaps he feels like he is still a child because he is still closely connected to his mother and has not had an intimate relationship with any female companions.

Although in a way it is a random frame in the midst of a scene, it does fit. The scene takes place as Jimmy is mailing his letter, and the frame takes place as he is writing it. This is the only connection that the frame has to the scene, but its design separates it from the rest to attract the reader and make a statement.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

You start out with a great deal of generalization and summarization of the overall story, which is a problem. Your discussion of Jimmy writing actually turns out rather well, though - if the whole paper had been in this vein, it would have been very solid. As it is, it's more of a mixed bag.