Friday, October 18, 2013

Comments & Questions on Jimmy Corrigan and Marcuse

Post your questions/thoughts as comments to this post.  Again:  a paragraph is fine, or a couple if you feel so moved.  You are posting on a question, problem or topic of your choice.  Citing a particular passage is recommended but not required.

18 comments:

Adam Lewis said...

I will start by saying that Ware was not at all what I thought it was going to be. I dove right into the book without noticing the "instructions," I read those later. Had I read them first, I'm sure I would not have been quite so surprised by the novel.

At first I thought the guy was just absolutely schizo, but there was that nice summary page where I realized those were the lives of his ancestors, not some weird dream or delusion.

I flew through the first half of the novel without much trouble. After all, how could I resist when the opening scene is a old superhero actor using the kid to get the mom for a night? Intriguing to say the least.

I am not sure what to make of it yet though. It is interesting and so far slightly depressing. I guess we will have to see where it takes us.

Ronald Rollins said...

Jimmy Corrigan is fantastic. It tells a story of depression, desperation, and social isolation in few words and without being overly dramatic. It definitely brings up experiences most of us have had growing up, and I'm sure the pain the character goes through will only be more relatable as we age. Thinking of it that way, Jimmy Corrigan is actually somewhat terrifying, but triggering such genuine emotions is what makes it great.

Carmen Condeluci said...

I was pleasantly surprised with the rich content present throughout Jimmy Corrigan. Expecting nothing more than a comic book, the depressing and sometimes convoluted narrative threw me for quite a loop. As if the parallel storylines of chronologically different James Corrigans wasn't confusing enough, Jimmy's dreams permeate through what the reader seems to think is reality. Like Adam mentioned, I found the brief summary to extremely helpful in getting my bearings and seeing where all the different events fit within the narrative.

I found the heavily depressive nature of the novel to be extremely off-putting. Jimmy and his ancestor seem to experience tragedy after tragedy with little to no positive events throughout. However, I feel as if the constant despair is meant to show how terribly "everyday" and "common" tragedies impact the characters. By using these realistic tragedies as opposed to the normal, fantastical ones we would expect from a comic book, it makes Jimmy and his ancestors' depression all the more relatable.

Abby Peters said...

I was surprised at the amount and depth of emotion in Jimmy Corrigan. Right from the opening pages when you see the super hero man sneaking out in the morning. I found that more often emotion was expressed through the drawings without captions or words in them. The image of a little Jimmy sitting under a bridge in the rain or lying in bed eyes wide open with the superhero man in the background. Nothing is especially extraordinary about these images but they incite strong emotion. The fact that they are so ordinary makes them all the more tragic. We know that these events do happen in our world. They are relatable, real tragedies. The reader isn’t allowed the luxury of a far off land or a fantastical event, so the emotion is much more potent. I am very interested to see where the book goes from here.

Carl Santavicca said...

Being a fan of comics and graphic novels in general, what I expected from Jimmy Corrigan and what I actually got couldn't have been more different. Like many have previously stated, I found the story rather depressing; however that is more due to its realism and relation to personal experience. The more I think about it though, is it really that different from the comics and graphic novels I am such a fan of? Jimmy obviously has daddy issues, as well as Ware himself. How many comic super heroes have that same issue: Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent to name a few of the most notable superheroes that did not have their actual father when growing up. Also the propensity of Jimmy Corrigan to focus on real life issues is no different that those in the graphic novels Watchmen and V for Vendetta, which have political undertones associated with them.
There were some recurrent symbols through this point in the story that I was wondering if anyone else noticed First there are an awful lot of references to peaches; also it seems like either Corrigan, or Ware, himself has something against females(i.e. rejection issues, or an overbearing mother) Did anyone else notice these?

Sarah Ayre said...

Like most of the other commentors, Jimmy Corrigan surprised me too. I wouldn't say it took me a long time to get through because of the style, but the content is difficult. I'm still not entirely sure of what is happening in the story, and whether the flashbacks are things that actually happened or just daydreams. Some of the day dreams are clear, and others are very unclear to me. I agree with Carmen that the depressing bits are off putting, and i think that might have been one of the things that makes it difficult to read. I had to keep taking breaks from Ware because I needed a bit of happiness to off put the sadness that the characters experience.
Carl, you note the recurring theme of peaches that I did notice, though I am still unclear as to the significance. I also noticed that the female relationships seemed a bit lacking, but I didn't think of them as in a negative light, though looking back, I can see how you get that. Most of the scenes involving women are either degrading or negative, now that i think about it. I wonder what the significance of this could be.

On to Marcuse: I found this chapter to be one of the more digestible sections. That is not to say that it was easy to read, indeed it took me around 3 hours with lots of breaks to make the first pass through it. I think because this chapter expands upon the ideas of a free/unfree life that we talked about last class I was able to (potentially) comprehend most of what Marcuse was trying to say. I did think this chapter did a nice job of explaining how art can be a tool for freedom in the technological world we live in. Artists being able to see a better world allows them to remain relatively free in their thinking, if not in their actual lives. I think Marcuse using Reason as an oppressive idea is interesting to note too. His theory that acting (as we might see it) realistically makes people complacent in their own oppression. By this I mean that by accepting the world as it is and merely trying to get by without actively trying to better the world around us would be something that Marcuse does not condone, even if he thinks that people's station in life might make this the only way they can live. Did anyone else think his use of Nature as interesting? I thought that he came across as quite an environmentalist in this section, and much more idealist and even potentially optimistic than in the previous sections.

Tolu Dayo said...

Reading Jimmy Corrigan has been very confusing to me. I find it very hard differentiating between his story as a young boy and then his grandfathers story. However the parts of this comic that I do understand have been comical. The one thing that stood out to me was his connection to superman? What is the significance behind that?

Matthew Schroeder said...

Like others have mentioned, I didn't really understand the novel until the first summary. The alternate story-lines were confusing, but once I realized what was going on the relative coherence of the novel became apparent. The most striking part of this story is definitely the pictures. Without them, the same story would have been horribly boring. Ware is able to convey incredibly subtle thoughts and emotions without any words whatsoever. This, combined with how relatable Jimmy is as a person, makes the story hit really close to home.

Brianna R. Pinckney said...

It took me a couple of tries to actually sit down and commit to reading to Jimmy Corrigan. I would read a page or two and get so frustrated that I'd give up and move on to something else. I'm someone who prefers structure, and quickly looking at Jimmy Corrigan one can say that its a structureless novel with a bunch of colorful pictures. But once I actually gave it a chance, I can appreciate the way Ware wrote it. The absence of chapters and page numbers allows the reader to look at the novel as one giant picture, which I believe was Ware's main goal.

However, the content is really depressing. I have to force myself to push through it because the emotion from the book seems to jump off the page and effect my mood. I guess it takes a talented writer to transmit words and pictures into actual human feelings, good job Chris Ware.

Jared DiSanti said...

Jimmy Corrigan was unlike any comic book I've ever read. Ware makes us very aware of this right off the bat by showing us a fallen anti-hero with the Superman actor. As Brianna's comment explained I like the way the book is organized, or unorganized depending on which way you look at it. To tie in to what we have discussed in class this format makes it almost more like a painting or a work of art. To bring back a blog question from last week my question is can a comic book be art? Video games have been argued for but not many people have considered comic books art.

Joseph Hastings said...

So far only half way through Jimmy Corrigan, I have to say that this is a very unique book. I have never read a comic like this, and I don't even know if this is a comic or a graphic novel. It is a little confusing in parts and very weird in others. The parts I cannot get over are when some of the characters are killed. This was disturbing to me and I guess this is someones imagination?
I also don't understand how the book keeps jumping around between the years. Is there any meaning in this? This book is not what I expected at all, but it is enjoyable at some points.

ajq5623 said...

When reading Jimmy Corrigan I found myself confused, bored, and intrigued all at the same time. Particularly I was intrigued by the fact that I was confused and bored. I kept thinking to myself "shouldn't a 'comic book' be more fun than this?" I constantly had to fight off the urge to skip over sections just to make the time in the narrative go a little quicker. However I quickly realized that these lulls are calculated. Ware even pokes fun at the mundane life of Jimmy Corrigan at several points through the first half of the novel. My main question after reading the first half of the novel however is the obvious one. Why? I haven't figured out why making something slow and boring is interesting to Ware. Possibly there is a commentary about how graphic novels pigeon hole the world into a glorified state when in reality life is generally mundane. Instead though I am just constantly aware of duplicate images spanning entire pages and hard to read script that contains context that seems to not add much to the novel. I just can't help but get the sense that the novel is moving (very) slowly towards and end goal that I'm not particularly interested in. However, I would love to be proved wrong.

Caleb Radomile said...

I've never read a comic book all the way through let alone a comic "novel", so analyzing Jimmy Corrigan was definitely a challenge. I was very confused at first why it kept jumping around so much. From Jimmy's childhood, to his adulthood, to his fantasies, to his father's life, to his grandfather's life, I was overwhelmed. Now that I'm done reading it though, I'm pretty sure I put together a coherent story of his life. I feel bad for Jimmy. It's not his fault his life is messed up. I hope he has some kind of redemption in the second half. Maybe he'll finally stand up to his mom, finally make up with his father for real (not this awkward facade that's been going on), or maybe get a girlfriend? I guess we'll see.

As for Marcuse, he makes some interesting comments on society. I read Jimmy Corrigan before Marcuse and I was ready to call Jimmy crazy for having so many fantasies. Marcuse made me realize though that when left to freely think, we often think about "what if." Although not as extreme as killing our father, everyone has their desires in life that they visualize happening to them. I attribute Jimmy's messed up fantasies to his poor childhood.

Nicholas Flynn said...

Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth begins with a continued questioning of what exactly it is. Throughout the first pages of the novel, disappearing often but still recurring later, different images of the book's title help us to see the author working out that process for himself. Others on the blog have noted how this story is, at least in part, autobiographical. I believe these repeated titles help us to understand that this book has been a struggle for Chris Ware, and that this might not have been the book that he always imagined that he would write. These images of a young Jimmy Corrigan take on more typical, fantastical comic book subjects - Jimmy flying through the air, riding a horse, even stabbing a man (his father?) with scissors. These might be the subjects that Chris Ware dreamed about tackling in comic book form, but was unable to because of their divergence from his own reality. I would ask that if this book is partly autobiographical, why does Jimmy Corrigan seem so unlike the picture I get of Chris Ware through reading/looking at his book? The book is vibrant, colorful and playful while Jimmy Corrigan is so dull.

Nikki Moriello said...

When reading Jimmy Corrigan, it's really hard to not sympathize with Jimmy. The very first images we're shown in the book introduce Jimmy as a small child with an overbearing mother and an active imagination. The content of the story as well as the images we're shown, and even how Jimmy's face is drawn, all contribute to his characterization as a middle-aged man with a pretty miserable, boring life.
I really feel bad for Jimmy because he just seems helpless. He reminds me of the stapler character in Office Space that gets continuously walked all over by everyone. Hopefully at the end of the novel, there will be some sort of justice or benefit for Jimmy.

Luv Purohit said...

I think this book although a comic book is surprisingly emotional. The scene where Jimmy's grandma dies is got me really emotionally invested in the character. The transformation of his father when he lost his mother was an all too real scenario and the vividness and explicitness of the running away scene was in stark contrast with the previous bits of the novel. Those among other scenes such as the mom sleeping with the old superhero and the coworker jumping off the building with the subsequent shredding of the note he left by the laundry were very well illustrated and written in my opinion.

Jason Wald said...

I’ve never felt such a connection with a fictional character as I did with Jimmy. This book is so spot-on with its descriptions of depression and loneliness – I mean a realistically bigger loser than Jimmy is hard to come by in fictional worlds. Ware must have had quite the childhood, because the pages are just dripping in familiarity. I surprised myself with how quickly I connected with Jimmy (and that might give away a lot about me, but I have never felt so familiar with a fictional character – I honestly hope to not grow up and turn into Jimmy). Ware is also quite the artist. There were some pages that quite simply blew me away. Though it may not be in the first half (I read the book almost in one sitting) the zoomed-out image of the World Fair is jaw-dropping in both scope and detail. The level of detail and the vibrancy of the colors are incredible. The only complaint I had was the cursive writing for the past generations main narrative sections.

Jason Wald said...

I’ve never felt such a connection with a fictional character as I did with Jimmy. This book is so spot-on with its descriptions of depression and loneliness – I mean a realistically bigger loser than Jimmy is hard to come by in fictional worlds. Ware must have had quite the childhood, because the pages are just dripping in familiarity. I surprised myself with how quickly I connected with Jimmy (and that might give away a lot about me, but I have never felt so familiar with a fictional character – I honestly hope to not grow up and turn into Jimmy). Ware is also quite the artist. There were some pages that quite simply blew me away. Though it may not be in the first half (I read the book almost in one sitting) the zoomed-out image of the World Fair is jaw-dropping in both scope and detail. The level of detail and the vibrancy of the colors are incredible. The only complaint I had was the cursive writing for the past generations main narrative sections.