Similarities between Jimmy Corrigan and House of Leaves
At first sight Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves are two books that would be thought to be completely different. Chris Ware incorporates his comic book talent of bringing images to life, and moving a story along just with pictures and comics, while Danielewski’s House of Leaves is a book, with no illustrations, no pictures except for the front cover, yet the two books have a striking similarity about them. The striking similarities between Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves, lies not in the stylistic characteristics of their authors. Rather it lies in the similar way in which the message of each literary work is carried to the reader. Reading Jimmy Corrigan definitely prepares you for a book like House of leaves. If there is one thing that was learned from reading Jimmy Corrigan is that it requires active reading. You have to actively be aware of events and what they mean, and the meanings of symbols. This same mentality is one that must be used to read house of leaves. One of the biggest similarities between the two works is the never-ending maze of information being relayed at all times in all forms to the reader. In both books we are presented with several versions of a story, being told from several perspectives, this gives the reader the ability to decide whether the story being told is true, or simply the opinion of the narrator that is speaking at that particular moment.
Another way, in which active reading is enforced on the reader of both Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves, is the way in which both authors uses the narrators to determine the timeline of the book. In Jimmy Corrigan, we constantly see the role of narrator of the book go from Jimmy, to his father then onto his grandfather all portrayed from child to adulthood, while the same picture depicts all three characters. This is a way in which Chris Ware enforces active reading, because without being focused properly on the novel it is easy to get lost. Another form of instruction given by both Chris Ware and Danielewski is a technique to let the reader know what narrator is currently speaking. In House of leaves we get this through the different fonts, and spacing of sentences.
“ In an effort to limit confusion, Mr. Truant’s footnotes will appear in Courier font while Zampano’s will appear in Times”.
While in Jimmy Corrigan, we get this through Chris Wares use of color. For example the red bird that is constantly seen in the book is used to signify the transition of time. In the panel to the left we see a 4 pictures of the same house going through several seasons, and changes, and the bird is present in each one of them to show the change in time.
Both Authors begin the book by giving the reader a forewarning of the frustration that they may encounter while reading their work. This is due to the high level of activity that both books require. Chris Ware’s use of symbolism, color and graphics to convey a story without the use of words, is a style that is not very common, yet he does it fluidly in Jimmy Corrigan. This is something that Danielewski also does in House of leaves; he uses several narrative perspectives, colors, and sometimes text oriented completely upside down to keep the attention of the reader. While at initial sight both works seems to be completely differently however, after delving into them it becomes apparent the similarities between both of them. Both Authors ultimately take their readers mind to the highest point of activity by constantly working the minds of the readers with puzzling discoveries.