Friday, November 8, 2013

Revision 2: Use of Images in Jimmy Corrigan

 From the beginning of the book, Chris Ware’s intentions for Superman’s character is completely visible, at least to any reader that isn't as obsessed with Superman as Jimmy is. He does this by presenting a superman character being played by an impostor actor, this sets the tone for the reader that Superman, is first of all not real, and he is unlike the expected truthful, and well-thought of man, that we instinctively think he is. We see Superman cozy up to a Young Jimmy just to get close to his mother, these opening panels are set up entirely for the reader to understand the reality of what type of Superman we will be dealing with in this comic book. Although Jimmy misses Superman’s evil intentions, this is of no surprise because he looks up to him like a God. Here we are given a preview of the disappointment that Jimmy is eventually to face as he continues to hold Superman to high esteem. 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 for Superman. However the truth about this superman is very transparent to the reader while Jimmy’s views on him are blurred. The morning after Superman spends the night with his mother he gives Jimmy his Mask before leaving, this mask stands as a metaphor for blinds on Jimmy’s perception on superman, although he can see, his view is being tainted by his bias towards Superman. It is no surprise that Chris Ware makes sure to break down this perception that Jimmy has, he once again shows the readers and this time Jimmy the true colors of his hero. Chris Ware strips superman of his heroic form in the eyes of Jimmy by bringing him down in the lowest form through suicide.  In most literary works, the downfall of a character is usually seen when they act in ways that those looking up to them don’t find favorable. Suicide is one of those actions, it is the end of a life, not only yours, but a loss for those who care for you or in Jimmy’s case those who look up to you. As is done numerous times over unusual and in-ordinary 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 bad 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 among

 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
Jimmy’s anxiety to meet his father is seen through his imaginations in which he sees Superman in human form whenever several bad situations occur.  However it is not only Jimmy who has struggled with identifying a quality male model in his life. His father and grandfather all struggle in their life’s trying to define the love of a true role model or father figure. Following Jimmy’s fathers own journey on his search for a father figure we are introduced to Jimmy (I) who is an old, angry and unhappy man with a terrible attitude towards his son. In this scene we have father and son sleeping in bed, but the father is dressed as Superman. This is another way in which Chris Ware taints the image of Superman. By portraying him as everything that a male role model is not. He shows the generational disappointment of the Jimmy’s in their actual fathers, or ideas of a father figure.  This can also be seen as a history lesson in Superman’s character as a false hero even as far back in the days of Jimmy (I). This means that even for Jimmy (II) Superman was a character that he admired, but seeing his father dressed as him, shattered this admiration, his perception of Superman is changed from this experience, because now he sees Superman as similar to his father, someone who is not a god role model.   This situation foreshadows for Jimmy (I) that his expectation in Superman will also be shattered because even back in his fathers times, Superman has not been the Super-hero that was expected.
            The lack of a father figure leaves Jimmy constantly searching for someone to fill that void.  But the absence of a father figure has been an issue in his family for generations back. This makes the issue at hand even more complicated because he is not only caring his burden but the burdens translated to him from his ancestors. It is because of this burden that Jimmy seeks out Superman to serve as his father figure. But Superman’s character in this comic book is questionable and lacking of the qualities of a father figure. He is unlike any super hero we are used to because he is constantly disappointing Jimmy, just as his absent father disappointed him. 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

1 comment:

Adam said...

I like the "anti-superhero" idea in the introduction. I'm not sure that you've really pinned down what the idea means yet, but it's an effective and engaging introduction, despite a couple minor grammatic errors (colon usage, for instance).

I like your revised discussion of Jimmy's childhood encounter with Superman. I especially like how you clarified what you mean by the mask signifying a kind of blindness. The transition into his adulthood was awkward, though - it's hard to follow exactly what you're saying. Splitting this long paragraph into two and then working on exactly what you're trying to say in the second would have been the right move here, I think.

I'm torn about your discussion of the generations. It's an important idea, and I think you're onto something - the problems with male role models persist through the generations, and that's a good topic to think about at length. Your actual writing is sometimes hard to follow, though, and in particular you needed to do something with the fact that seeing Jimmy's great-grandfather as superman is an anachronism. That part of the story takes place in 1892-3, long before the character of superman was invented. That doesn't mean that you're wrong - in fact, your argument implies that the idea of superior male role model is the important thing, not the particular details of superman himself - but it's a little unclear to me what *you* are arguing.

That lack of clarity gets worse in your conclusion. You have explored some interesting topics in this essay - the depiction of the great-grandfather as superman, the concept of the anti-superhero, etc. - but at the end you don't say much beyond the obvious fact that Jimmy's father (whether absent or present) is a great disappointment to him. That is obvious, and would have been just as obvious if the metaphor of superman was never used. In the second paragraph, you do much better with what the use of Superman *means* - I would have liked to see your ideas (about the mask, for instance, and how it effects Jimmy's perception) cross over into a detailed analysis of his father (or perhaps of his great-grandfather back in the 1890s). While this versions improves over the previous drafts, at the heart the argument is still unclear and underdeveloped, although the most interesting parts of it (especially in the 2nd paragraph) *have* moved in a positive direction.

Also, where's the research?