Prompt 1: Images in Jimmy Corrigan
To be honest, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is the first comic book I have ever read. However, knowing a decent bit about super-hero culture I understand how they work and the purpose they serve. If you are young boy growing up loving Batman and Spiderman, you would much rather see these heroes fight their respective villains than read about it. For kids especially, pictures can be worth so much more than words ever could. I think this is the reason Ware chose this medium to present the story of Jimmy Corrigan. Jimmy is essentially a boy stuck in a man’s body. Whether it is his mother who treats him like he is still eight years old, or Jimmy’s social inabilities with women, Jimmy does not function like a normal adult. With this being said, the picture I chose (Image 1) subtly displays a theme in only three small frames.
In my image, I believe the three pictures are trying to represent Jimmy’s struggle to achieve the American dream. Before we can analyze the picture or other hints of the theme in this book, we need to know what exactly the American dream is. To me the American dream is the idea that in America if you put in your time and work hard you will achieve happiness. Happiness is different for all individuals. While some seek power or wealth, most, like Jimmy, seek companionship. The story highlights many times how he desperately wants a friend or a lover and his social inabilities make this nearly impossible.
To fully understand the picture I have selected, we must understand the context it is presented. Jimmy is in the hospital being treated for a nosebleed. The way the nurse talks to him is like a child. However, this is not a bad thing to Jimmy. As a child at heart, he enjoys the way the nurse is taking care of him. For this reason he develops a crush for her. When the nurse comes back into the room Jimmy has a fantasy of him and the nurse running away together, getting married and growing old together as the picture shows. This desperate fantasy is outlandish, but tells us how much Jimmy is dying to find companionship. He spends only mere minutes with this woman yet he dreams of running away and becoming married to her. The reason this image is so appealing to me however is because of the final part of the image which is the house in the mountains.
Reading Jimmy Corrigan I couldn’t help compare him to a similar character from another famous piece of American literature. This character is Lenny Small from the John Steinbeck classic Of Mice and Men. A huge similarity between Lenny and Jimmy is that they are both children in men’s bodies. Steinbeck adds a level of irony to accent this difference. Steinbeck makes Lenny a brutally strong man but is extremely timid because of a mental handicap. In Steinbeck’s novel, the main theme in the story is the quest to gain the American dream. This is symbolized by the farm which they plan to own someday and be free. For Jimmy Corrigan being able to marry the nurse and grow old with her would be his American dream. This is summed up by the house on top of the mountain we see in the lower tight frame of the image.
I feel that the similarities between Jimmy Corrigan and Of Mice and Men are not a coincidence. The characters are too similar for Ware not to be making some sort of comparison. Jimmy and Lenny both have trouble with women. In Of Mice and Men Lenny has a very tough time talking to women and is at one time accused of raping a woman even though he didn’t and wasn’t intending to do the woman harm. Jimmy also has this trouble and is accused on the plane of staring at the woman’s breasts. The biggest connection to the book is made in the scene where Jimmy has a fantasy about killing a small horse. The way in which Jimmy tells Amos all the plans they have as Jimmy kills Amos is very similar to the way George Kills Lenny. I feel like Ware uses a farm animal as Amos to show that Jimmy’s hopes of that American dream are being killed.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. The fact that one man was able to put so much meaning into every picture and frame is truly remarkable to me. With only one divided frame, I was able to pick up a theme in the story. Ware does this many times throughout the book which is why Jimmy Corrigan is much more than your average comic.