The thing I wanted to delve into here for Jimmy Corrigan was not actually the imagery, per se, but something in the text itself. It’s a curious phenomenon, one that I’m almost certain has a meaning, that it was done deliberately. I am referring to the laughing used throughout the book. Open the book to any page where there is any sort of laugh involved. Most of the time, with small exception, that you’ll find that it’s just a simple “Ha ha” no matter who it is that’s laughing. It repeats itself, like so many other things repeat themselves. This simple phrase used at different times, in different contexts. I associate it with Jimmy himself, usually, since it’s a little ineffectual laugh that sounds forced, lacking any real humor while ultimately feeling too awkward not to say anything. It’s like his repetition of “Uh, I guess” when he answers questions, a fact which the book draws attention to while he is in the doctor’s office with the bloody nose.
But back to repetition… Because the book seems so keen on it, I knew that the laughing had to be important somehow. It might’ve been just simply because it’s repetition, but when you consider that Jimmy’s father (also Jimmy) laughs similarly, as well as the rest of his family, and anyone they have ever seen or known or heard in this book, it creates an atmosphere of the repetition, like an infection. What is it doing? Whether it’s a mocking laugh or genuine humor, it’s still just the same old “Ha ha”, like a worn out laugh-track. And sort of like throwing the brick at the cat, that’s the idea. It’s there to point out that the brick has been thrown. Generally, every time Jimmy (any Jimmy) is put on the spot, there are bricks being lobbed. (Being hit with a mail truck was a fairly-sizable brick, though.)
The simple comedy of cat getting hurt by mouse has been expressed as a theme in this book, and so the laughing plays its part in there too. Since it’s not a comic that is outwardly funny, you must call it a comedy of errors, laughter at the expense of the characters who have tragic and embarrassing lives. And since Jimmy is the main character with that same ineffectual laugh, he is the mold set in place for everyone else, leaving us to determine what the laughter does, whether it is awkward or outgoing, helping or harmful.