Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blog 6 Prompt 1

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. 


Matthew Schroeder said...

Overall I like this essay a lot. I think you formed a really good thesis, much better than my own for this prompt, and developed it extremely well. As far as improvement goes, I would say the weakest point is your first body paragraph. While it excellently and necessarily develops your ideas about superman as a father figure, it doesn't mention specific details from an image which support your ideas. Ideally you should find some visual detail similar to the contrast between the buildings and superman in your second paragraph or the red gloves, shoes, and mask in the third to support your point. I know this seems a little nit-picky, but there really isn't much else I see to improve upon.

Your second and third paragraphs are pretty spot on; they continue to develop your ideas and mention specific images in the text which support your argument.

I would also say that your conclusion is a little short and abrupt. It restates your thesis well though; it includes the ideas you've developed throughout your essay. However, Adam frequently tells me that my conclusions are too long and vague, so take this bit with a grain of salt.

If you haven't decided which essay you're going to revise I would recommend this one, not because it needs improvement, but because it is so well developed. If you include as much good content as this draft has, then you'd end up with a seriously good final product. I just finished the second half of Jimmy Corrigan and I think there are a few more images which would fit perfectly with your thesis.

In summary, I think this is extremely well done. The most significant improvement I could think of is just doing more of what you're doing in your second and third paragraphs. A few more specific details would help, but I don't know if any more exist which could relate to your thesis without stretching them too far. I know I didn't provide much constructive criticism, but I seriously can't think of much else you can improve upon regarding your thesis. Maybe Adam will think of more.

Adam said...

he first paragraph could have been radically shorter. Most of it is obvious and uninteresting, until we get to your thesis.

The 2nd paragraph is a straightforward reading of important material. I'd like to see more detailed analysis of the relevant images, and less summarization of the whole sequence. If you're interested in how he is "blinded by his admiration for him once again", I wonder how that relates to the use of the mask through the book (is the mask a way of indicating blindness?)

The 3rd paragraph is good. It's kind of curious that Superman (the character) didn't exist in 1893 - the metaphor of Superman, however, applies through the Corrigan generations. The mask really sticks out to me here.

The 4th paragraphs illustrates, to me, your relative lack of focus. Superman's leap - or the movement from the superman comic to superman's leap - is easily a good subject for an essay by itself. You are touching on lots of relevant material here, but not developing it at length. For instance, what could you do with the use of color on these two pages to illustrate and expand your argument?

The last paragraph is a kind of abrupt ending. Of course that sometimes happens in drafts.

Overall: There is good material here, especially in the 3rd paragraph (which to me is far less obvious than some of the other superman material). There are ways in which it is perfectly obvious - too obvious - that the book is concerned with emphatically non-heroic fathers. That doesn't mean it's a bad topic - just that you need to find a focus within it. I think you are beginning to find a focus through the use of visual details, but it's not quite there yet. Your argument, in other words, would ideally become more focused, more personal, and less obvious. If it was me, I'd probably start with something about the mask - but that's definitely me.

One thing I'll emphasize after reading Matt's comments is that you *do* develop a clear idea. My issue is that it's not as focused as it could be - it's too close to being obvious.