Use of imagery in Jimmy Corrigan’s, Smartest kid on earth.
Comic books authors are known for their artistic prowess, and their sometimes over-exaggerated depiction of characters. But these extravagant depictions of pictures, and use of graphic art are all the ways in which the author gets across a story about these characters to the reader, with limited use of words, and more use of color and graphics. In Jimmy Corrigan the use of artwork is almost sometimes overwhelming. Trying to decipher the meaning and significances of all the different uses of color and symbols could lead to several interpretations of Ware’s true intentions. But one thing that is apparent and clear in this comic is that the pictures, along with the words also tell a story. In fact it is almost possible to develop a story just by studying the graphics used by Ware. Paying attention to little details, and his use of repetition of images also help to tie up the loose ends to a book that seems to have many possible interpretations. In Jimmy Corrigan, Ware uses several images unusual and contradicting to the everyday heroic image of Superman to depict to us how Jimmy compares his image of a father figure to Superman. These images help to conclude that in this comic book, Superman's character is a reminder of the absence or failing of all the fathers across generation.
Wares use of imagery to depict Jimmy 3rd, 2nd, and 1st’s relation to the character of superman is one of the many occasions in the book, where an image tells a story even without reading the words on paper. We all have a prehistoric depiction of what Superman stands for in our head. Every child has their ideal image and qualities of what makes their favorite Superhero, and this is no different than Jimmy (III). We start off the book with this image of superman, and from the beginning it is very evident the admiration and love that Jimmy has towards Superman. Even though as readers, we can tell that Superman may not be as heroic or genuine as Jimmy sees him. Ware depicts superman to the reader as nothing but a deceiving actor dressed in costume lying to a kid just to sleep with his Mother. Jimmy’s fascination with Superman is further tainted the morning after Superman sleeps with his mother and he gives him his mask as he tries to sneak out. Rather than seeing the clear truth about Superman he is blinded by his admiration for him once again. His innocent blindness to the truth about Superman and admiration of a male heroic figure is the first evidence of his want for a strong male figure in his life. However we don’t go too far into the book before this almost godlike and untouchable image of Superman is stripped away from him.
As is done numerous times over the course of this comic book, Ware fast-forwards to Jimmy as a grown man, eating breakfast while reading a Superman comic book. His childhood obsession has carried on into his adulthood. But Ware quickly begins to strip this idea from Jimmy with a scene where he watches his idolized hero jump off a building to his death. In this picture we have his bright costume of colors blue, yellow and red set amongst a dull grayish background of buildings, that look as drab and sad as the event that have just occurred. This is the first evidence of the future disappointment in Jimmy’s representation of a father figure, and his upcoming encounter with his newly found father. Ware uses this scene to strip away Jimmy’s image of a father figure in the form of Superman
Ware once again depicts the reality of the false image of a father to Superman this time from the perspective of Jimmy (Jimmy II) in a flashback of his time as a young boy with his Father (Jimmy I). In the leading pages to this we find Jimmy II’s father to be a fat brutish, harsh and angry man. Who seems to show no love or affection towards his child. One particular page that stands out is the image of Jimmy (I) laying in bed next to his father, dressed as Superman, with the gloves, mask, and his red shoes laying next to the bed on the floor. This false heroic image of Superman is once again shattered; by depicting him as Jimmy (I) a man who we were just introduced to as an insensitive man who possesses all the characteristics that you would find in a terrible father figure. Ware uses this imagery to show that across the generations, the comparison of an ideal father or father figure to Superman has stood to be false. He shows the generational disappointment of the Jimmy’s in their actual fathers, or ideas of a father figure.
This idea of a father compared to Superman is shutdown several times in this comic book, and Ware achieves this by his tactful use of graphics to depict these ideas. With these different imageries, the theme of the generational search for a father figure is addressed, and with Ware’s skillful artistic abilities, this theme is brought to life and made easier to understand, just by deciphering the images and symbols.