Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is a graphic novel, also known as a comic, by Chris Ware. I would first bring up the point that it took me a while to get used to reading this novel by the way its set up but between the images ranging in different sizes to the images being flipped to where you have to turn the book a few times to read it properly, it took me quite some time to get adjusted to it. Once I got accustomed to the novel, I began to see how the character Jimmy went on about his everyday life with everything he had to get accustomed to. Although, one thing I quickly grasped onto was how the title of the novel states that he is the smartest kid on earth.
By reading through the story I wouldn’t think that is true and many people probably wouldn’t either. The reasons being is how he really doesn’t have any friends, no interests, no type of love live, but only a mom who bothers him so much that he gets annoyed. Having a life like that while being a grown man seems depressing, especially when he even looks way older than the age he actually is and on top of that his dad abandoning him when he was a baby.
When referring to Jimmy’s dad, you still almost get the feeling to wonder why he was hardly in his son’s life to begin with. He had disappeared for almost 30 years with Jimmy only keeping in touch with him by a few phone calls and a dinner. The second dinner didn’t even happen because his dad had stood him up, thinking he would get his act together after being away from his son after all these years. Before Jimmy could get in touch with him again, his father had already died.
You seem to wonder what type of man just walks out on his own child. Jimmy Corrigan’s mind had to be filled with questions like was he unhappy? Was he too weak to take care of me? Did he get tired of mom and that is what drove him away? Of all these questions, he would never really get to know now. It has to be hard growing up without a father because kids tend to look at them as hero’s, role models, and even to some Superman. That’s how I looked at my dad when I was younger. At times he would look like the strongest man in the world and had all the super-powers. He would throw me up over his shoulders while I thought I was the tallest guy in the world and pick up things that seemed so impossible for anybody else to do. That’s just the way your mind thinks when you’re a kid.
There were also times when he would play catch with me outside and do simple things like help me with my homework when it had to be done. It didn’t take much for my father to become my superman. Just from him being there alone would be better than him actually having super-powers or being able to fly. That leads me to believe that maybe that’s all Jimmy really wanted, s superman figure in his life which could’ve been his father.
After going through all of that, I surely wouldn’t think he’s the smartest and that’s simply because of his decisions. But, that’s when his imagination comes in to play. In Jimmy’s mind, he thinks of himself as being superman, having a really hot girlfriend, being a robot at times, and basically anything people would think of in order to have an exciting life. By Jimmy visualizing his life this way even though it isn’t happening in reality, gives me the reason to believe now why he is the smartest kid on earth.
While referring back to him being superman and putting that mask on I think can relate to the rest of this novel and how it is portrayed. For instance, when you’re a kid you tend to think of fictional characters like superman and want to be like him some day. Who wouldn’t, when you can fly around and be the hero by saving the world and have everyone look up to you. Since Jimmy was a little kid, you can tell that being someone like superman would always be his goal and after putting on that mask, it gave him an even greater imagination of becoming him. That’s the key point to when his imaginations started to get broader throughout the years. As he got older, he never stopped having these imaginations because it’s like he always had that hope that these things can happen someday.
If you think about it, Jimmy had never stopped wearing Superman clothes from when he was younger till when he got older. He would still walk around with that blue Superman sweatshirt on wherever he went as if he was a young boy still. He could care less what people think because deep down in his mind he still had that hope of becoming that super hero one day. Other than him always wearing that sweatshirt, there were also many other issues that lead to his mind being the way it was.
By Jimmy not having friends, a girlfriend, or any interests plays a huge part in the whole superman imagination. He knew that if he could become superman then the friends, girlfriend, and having an interest in doing certain things would automatically take place and happen without any worries. The rest of this novel plays out as dealing with loneliness, failure, and fear, but being superman means that you won’t get lonely because you’ll be saving the world, you won’t be scared of failure because you have the physical and mental ability to achieve greatness, and you won’t have fear because you’ll be super-natural and nobody can stop you.
Lastly, as you read through this novel and examine closely, you will realize that Jimmy never really has a smile on his face. He always looks confused, sad, lonely, or just flat out absent-minded in life. These expressions go a long way from experiencing time spent throughout the years with no father, to never having the friends and encouraging people around to keep him uplifted. That goes back to being Superman and feeling like you’re on top of the world. If he would’ve had that chance then you would be seeing way more smiles throughout this book from Jimmy and not a lot of that isolated look from him.
In conclusion, Jimmy Corrigan grows up to be a man that still has the mind at times of a child. He doesn’t live the life that he always imagined because it’s unrealistic and never got a chance to experience anything that was similar to it. Although, I feel that if he had gotten a chance to do something superman-like rather than just an imagination, he would approach life more differently so he wouldn’t have to feel so lonely, afraid, and annoyed all at once.
Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print.
Daoust, Phil. "Daddy, I Hardly Knew You." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 20 July 2001. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.