They say that a picture can say a thousand words. In the case of a comic like Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware the combination of drawings and captions tells the tale of our tragic narrator Jimmy Corrigan. Through his tale of meeting his estranged father we get a glimpse into who this man really is. Overall Jimmy can be seen as a deeply lonely and sad man who’s only searching for acceptance. We get a true sense of this through specific images that capture Jimmy’s disposition head on.
Before delving into the graphics and text it’s pertinent to discuss comics as whole. When I, as well as many others think of comics the first two things that come to mind are the funnies in the newspaper and superhero comic books such as X-Men, Batman and all of those others that have been made into great film adaptations. Initially as a series of weekly installments in a Chicago newspaper Jimmy Corrigan can be compared to the funnies in the paper like peanuts, etc. I would say there is huge difference in the content and depth of the two. Usual comics in the paper were short, to the point, ended with or joke or moral, and really had no continuity between each week’s segments. This is quite the contrast Ware’s installments that were longer, far more complex with each weeks new addition being a continuation as a story as a whole. This is where the similarity between Jimmy Corrigan and the superhero comic books comes into play. Despite the fact one could hardly see Jimmy as a superhero of any kind Ware makes the bold statement of calling him “our hero” on the cover of the graphic novel. I guess if you consider that a lot of people reading comics could be viewed as similar to Jimmy he could be viewed as such a hero to them. The fact the story was told as comic with certain readers in mind plays a role in how “our hero” Jimmy can be perceived.
Jimmy’s demeanor is constantly showcased in the novel through his body language and appearance in general. In the scene where Jimmy is flying to meet his father this is especially the case. He is hunched over almost in the fetal position. This position in a way is a shielding from people coming in. It’s like your blocking yourself off from the world. He appears to be scared most likely because he knows his fears of meeting his father are going to occur and quite possibly since he is so close to another woman, one which he presumably finds attractive. From that you can see that he has a confidence issue. He can hardly stand up for himself once she accuses him of staring at her and stutters on trying to come up with words which just further solidifies his lack of confidence. His face appears to be that of a saddened man. Although his age isn’t revealed I would guess he should be around forty due to the age of Amy, his sister, who was born in the mid sixties. For someone being about forty he looks terrible for his age. His cheeks sag and look wrinkly and he always seems to be frowning. If I ever saw someone like that in real life I would say they were deeply depressed or distraught. This is all constantly shown to us through the narrative of the story and various scenes where Jimmy shows similar body language.
Jimmy’s loneliness and sadness is a reoccurring theme in the novel. Through various techniques such as dialogue and illustrations Ware has created a deep character that is relatable on many levels. He’s nagged by his mother, longs for love and even friendship. No he isn’t a hero in any way, he’s an average Joe which I think can be an appeal to people. It can make you feel good to read about someone who’s worse off than you, or even comforting if you’re in the same boat. Jimmy’s character of loneliness and imperfection brings a truth to a genre that usually showcases the complete opposite.