Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth details the nothingness of Jimmy, a depressing middle aged man who meets his father for the first time. It has a very unique style of story telling and can be at times hard to read. As I first started reading the book I had the feeling for the longest time that this would be like one of those movies where the main character is at the point of breaking with everything that's happening in his life…and then he wakes up and everything was just a dream. But as I read more into the novel I became more accepting of the book as being this man's real life when I started reading it through a child's eye.
There is a scene very early on that has stuck out more than any other for me. Jimmy has just been yelled at by Peggy (after working up the courage to talk to her), received a note from his apparently new found father with a plane ticket to come visit him, and is talking on the phone with his very annoying mother. Needless to say it's a stressful day for him. On his desk sits a little toy or stuffed animal of some sort. It looks like a yellow Pillsbury Doughboy with a top hat. The first two pictures it's in it just acts as decoration sitting on his desk. But a few pictures later and Jimmy starts playing with it. As he rereads his dad's note he starts playing with the top hat and progresses to pick it up and rub it against his face. In the following two pictures he rubs the thing over his head and then simply grasps it firmly in the following three pictures during which his annoying and frustrating mother calls again.
Had this been any other man, I would simply brush this scene off as just being his somewhat odd way of dealing with stress. However, as the story unfolds it becomes apparent to me that this is the first piece of solid evidence that Jimmy isn't quite right in the head. Although Jimmy has grown up and has become a middles aged 'man', he is really still a child at heart. And I don't mean that in the way most people do when they say that, that he still has that urge for adventure. Rather, he really seems to have not really mentally matured, his actions and speech resemble that of a child's. In this scene he looks to a little stuffed animal for comfort, soothing himself and rubbing it against his face, just as a child does with his little 'blanky'.
Even as I read this for the first time, before I had any real idea that Jimmy is very much like a child, I was disturbed to a degree seeing a grown man use a doll in such a child-like way. There are countless flashbacks, at times for no apparent reason, random daydreams, and dreams about being a robot(?). And he continually shows no confidence in anything, he always stutters when he talks and is at one point afraid that his dad will kill him. These things beg us to ask the question: What the heck is wrong with this guy? But I think that all of these things make much more sense when treating Jimmy as more of a child than a man, as his scene with the yellow creature suggests.