Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little Boy, Big Child

Throughout this work of art, Jimmy Corrigan is shown to be a depressing and awkward character. With a greedy, overbearing mother and an absent father, Jimmy tries to escape his sorrows through his imagination. Often times, different characters repeatedly show themselves in Jimmy’s daydreams and usually get him into trouble. One of the aspects of these characters I would like to discuss is their size. I believe Chris Ware uses exaggerated sized characters to express the feelings of Jimmy without writing any words.

In this comic, Jimmy is depicted at many different ages and of many different sizes. When he is at his grandmother’s funeral, he retreats to his room where he imagines himself as a giant above the neighborhood again. I believe this is Ware trying to show the rejection Jimmy feels in his own home. He was just in a fight with a girl and was called a bastard and then he walks into his grandmother’s funeral and everyone there does not even notice him. He has no one there to comfort him and is alone in his own house. Although no one notices him, he feels like he sticks out like a virgin in a strip club (relating to Ware’s somewhat dirty humor) or a giant among miniature houses as portrayed. All of Ware’s life he felt alone because his father was not present in his life. In almost every scene Jimmy is portrayed as insignificant or some sort of freak.

Ware uses this comic/novel as an autobiographic tool. He uses the sizes of characters to demonstrate feelings and he also compares characters to people in his life. This ‘superman’ character constantly shows himself throughout the novel acting in many different forms. Very early in the story, Jimmy is sitting in a room when a miniature superman lands on his windowsill while he is talking to his son. Superman then grows into a giant and turns the house upside down leaving Jimmy’s son in pieces. Jimmy then kills his son by smashing a block on his head. This could have been related to when Ware met his father for the first time. This figure is represented as having a small role and excites Jimmy. Then this peaceful figurine transforms into a giant and destroys all of Jimmy’s life.

Ware said that after a certain age, we really do not “see” anymore. We spend our time naming and categorizing and identifying and figuring how everything all fits together. By changing the sizes of the characters and exaggerating drawings, he makes it much easier for us to identify his thoughts by his representation. The old saying, “a picture says a thousand words” is obviously relevant in comics, but Ware takes it to heart. Every detail of every drawing has a meaning in his comic. Whether it is to describe his life or relate to ours, Ware uses the sizes of characters to express their feelings without writing a word.


sgl5 said...

by Sam Luffy

John Fabry said...

I think that this piece has some good ideas and simply suffers from rough execution. The idea that Ware uses size to demonstrate visually how Jimmy is feeling is a solid concept and one that we even touched upon in class. I also like that the introduction is concise and gets directly to the point, clearly stating the main thought of your piece. By the same token, I feel that your conclusion does a decent job of wrapping everything up. The major problems with this work lie with the pieces of support in between.

Unfortunately, a major flaw with the support of your argument is that the first several examples you give do not deal with Jimmy at all. The grandmother's funeral and the altercation with the red-haired girl are both situations involving Jimmy's grandfather as a child. While such points could support your thesis if you used a wider scope beyond simply representing Jimmy's emotions, at the moment they are superfluous. You may want to consider re-reading the segments of Jimmy Corrigan that you used.

The more relevant example of Jimmy's house being turned upside-down by a giant Superman has more potential but I would really like to see you do more with it. The majority of that paragraph simply explains the series of slides to the reader. Since your writing is directed to the class and everyone in the class should have read the book, detailed explanations of the text shouldn't be necessary. Try to inject some of your own ideas into it to help flesh out your point. You attempt to connect the idea to Ware's meeting his father for the first time but you don't explain why you think this to be the case. More importantly, how does the concept of Ware's meeting his father for the first time relate to your main point of using size to demonstrate Jimmy's emotions? You seem to get lost with this example in that you don't actually connect it to your thesis and instead you bring up a new, unrelated idea. Try to go beyond reiterating the work to the reader and make sure that the connection between your thesis and the example is clear.

Aside from this, I would mainly say that your submission here just needs more support. Since your first few examples don't relate to your thesis, you would need to either modify your thesis or find new examples to support your current thesis. For any new examples, try to follow the recommendations I've given for your Superman example and go beyond simply stating what the example is. To drive your point home, you need to establish a clear connection with how each example relates to and supports your point.