Monday, March 17, 2014

Comments and Questions on Jimmy Corrigan & Marcuse, Week 2

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.

12 comments:

Jessica Merrill said...

Last class, we discussed the bird as a symbol. From this discussion, I understood that the bird noted the passage of time. The last scene of the bird in the book is very different from the others. Usually, the bird is shown by itself, right before a jump in the story line. This jump may be from Jimmy to his grandfather, or simply the passage of time in one of their lives. In the last scene, though, the bird interacts with Jimmy. He hears it before he sees it, and looks up to find the bird on the light post. The bird is singing, another thing we have never seen it do.

Right before the scene, Jimmy's grandfather stops him and tells him that "he's a good kid". This is one of the first times Jimmy and his grandfather have interacted, and the very first time that Jimmy's grandfather has said something positive in his old age. I think the singing bird symbolizes the coming together of the past and the present, as well as changing for the future. The conversation between the two men is odd behavior for both of them, in that Jimmy's grandfather is being positive and Jimmy is interacting with his family in a positive way. It is likely that both characters will dote on this strange occurrence, and come up with a conclusion that will change their futures. This scene with the bird is the epitome of changing times, and therefore it has to sing.

Jessica Craig said...

Of the many reoccurring images and themes throughout the graphic novel, the depiction of Superman confused me. In the first half of the book, the “American”-ideal of Superman is broken down when Superman has a one-night stand with Jimmy’s mother and then again when he commits suicide. Later in the novel, Superman appears in Jimmy’s dreams and hallucinations. There is a Superman figure in the bedroom window that destroys the house. In a scene when Jimmy calls his mother, the little kid in the background is holding a Superman toy. (In this case, the toy seems innocent and normal, but it foreshadows Jimmy’s father finding out about the phone call.) When Jimmy is in the car accident, he sees the other driver as Superman. In all these depictions, Superman is anything but a hero. However, on the second to last page of the novel, the role or depiction might seem to reverse. Why does Ware do this? How does this seeming reversal contribute to the conclusion of the novel? What does it mean that a “bad character” can become good? Does this mean that Jimmy will not become like the other men of his family ancestry? If Ware did intend something like this, why use the Superman symbol?

Brendan Demich said...

The last few pages of the book had a few minor events that I found very strange and difficult to comprehend. The first is a minor sequence of frames directly after Jimmy and Amy find out that their father has died. Amy wipes her eye, then removes her earring. She then looks at the earring, then looks at Jimmy. It is a strip that could be easily overlooked, but its meaning has bothered me since I noticed it.

I was bothered again by the final page before the epilogue. Jimmy has arrived back in Chicago and is standing directly where superman killed himself. Maybe this is implying Jimmy considering suicide himself. But the more confusing frame is the repeated building on the next page. We could assume that the building might be Jimmy's office building, but why is it the final image of the story before the epilogue? Why is the uninteresting building repeated twice if nothing changes about it?

Becca Garges said...

When the young boy (whose grandmother just passed away) focuses on the single strand of red hair of the young girl while they are looking out over the town, I immediately thought of the snipped length of light from the boy's bedside lamp earlier in the story - which we discussed in class. They look almost identical, and I'm curious about their connection.

We also discussed how the story is very well-planned. This made me think that there must be a connection between the strand of hair and the strand of light. It also made me wonder about some of sequences that seem unimportant or meaningless. For example, there is a set of illustrations three weeks after the boy's grandmother's funeral in which he is called to the front of the classroom to be applauded for being an outstanding student. This scene seems somewhat pointless to the overall story, and I'm interested in why Ware included it.

Kristen Welsh said...

While reading the section with the young James Corrigan and Miss McGinty, I started thinking about the representation of Women like we discussed in class last week. I think this section definitely proves that the Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid on Earth is sexist. Jimmy, the boy, lis head over heels in love with Miss McGinty for no apparent reason. Soon, she gives him a reason to NOT love her by calling him a bastard, insulting him further, and beating him up. She has a hand in getting the other boys to hate Jimmy as well, and beats him up again. She is also very hateful in general, claiming she hates Phillip Stewart without much reason. She is rebellious, and is often lying to officials. She has many negative qualities and very few redeeming ones. Why do you think that Ware chose to portray Jimmy's love interest in such a negative light? Do you think that Miss McGinty has any reedeming qualities at all? If so, what are they? Do you think Jimmy was justified in hitting her? Do you think there was a better way he could have handled it?

Courtney Elvin said...

In the second half of Jimmy Corrigan there was one page that stood out to me in particular. At about page 207-208 there is another “craft page” where the reader is asked to create a model of Jimmy’s grandfather's childhood home. The instructions talk briefly about folding and gluing along the outlines, similar to the craft page in the first half. However, the model is impossible to fully complete because there are pieces on both sides of the same page of the physical book which need to be cut out. In reality, the reader is only able to cut out half of the pieces. Yes, your average reader will probably not take the time to even try and make the model, but why would Ware provide an activity page that can’t physically be completed? The snarky explanation and instructions on page 206 encourage the reader to abandon the project at the first sign of difficulty. He says in the very last sentence, “Those who suffer difficulty should abandon the enterprise immediately” (Ware 206). What is the goal of this impossible project? What is it supposed to bring up about the reader? My first inclination is that It could bring about this sense of failure regardless of how hard the reader tries, much like how Jimmy and his grandfather’s stories hold that theme to be true.

Dennis Madden said...

After the remainder of the book, I find myself more than ever inquiring about the nature of the graphic novel for the medium for the story. Aside from the general conclusions we made last class, I want to construct some more theories about exactly why Jimmy Corrigan is "The first serious piece of literature of the medium". It seems to me that Jimmy Corrigan is essentially its own category of literature; it is simply as similar to a graphic novel as an encyclopedia is to a dictionary... they are similar but show striking differences. The experiential elements of Jimmy Corrigan beg a deeper level of analysis than your average graphic novel, albeit with significantly less 'action'. I can't help but wonder if this piece of literature is something deserving of its own genre.

I think it is unfair to deem this particular book superior over other literarily sound graphic novels, just as I find it inappropriate to place it in the same genre at all. Jimmy Corrigan is all about what is between the pictures, while traditional graphic novels are more about what is actually in the pictures. I think further genre subdivision needs to be made to be fair to both standard graphic novels and Jimmy Corrigan alike.

Kyle McManigle said...

Since everyone so far has commented on Jimmy Corrigan, I thought I would divert the attention away a little bit to say something about Marcuse's conclusion. First, I really liked this chapter. Even though it was the conclusion of his argument, it still felt like it's own entity to me. I particularly was drawn to his discussion on imagination and how that relates to the industrial society, but more importantly, the nature of rationality. There are multiple passages between the pages of 247-251 that have good material so I won't leave something out by just picking one. However, I was rather intrigued by the relation of imagination to Reason, such that they are interdependent. I had never entertained this idea before, but it made sense in the way he put it talking about mathematics and experimentation. Every idea had to have come from somewhere at sometime. Whether it came from Reason or imagination is dependent on the time and the subjectivity. The Romans would have said that their ideas of Gods carrying the sun over them in a chariot was Reason, but we see that as imagination. The differentiation of time makes the union between imagination and reason closer but also more distant at the same time.

Another thing I thought was really interesting was that imagination could never be separated from this reason or else it would cause a release of, "unmitigated horror," which Marcuse says is purely because of humanity itself. This made me think of the movie, The Purge, a movie set in a futuristic time where everything shuts down and all crime is legal for one night. The idea is completely barbaric, but at the same time, the movie notes that there is no crime outside of this or unemployment. I would be curious to know what Marcuse would think of a societal institution such as this. Clearly it is a historical alternative, but whether it is the right one or not is different. It also came back into my mind when he said that the end of domination would validate the achievements of advanced industrial society. In some crazy way, this to me seems like a variation of it, but it doesn't bridge the gap of societal operation like he talks about. It eliminates it (by violent means), but it is the outcome regardless.

I wonder what kind of society Marcuse would say that we are in compared to his predictive theory, and what he would think about movies with central ideals like that.

Tom Kappil said...

Finishing the Jimmy Corrigan comic, the change of pace at the end was startling. The book so far had shown itself to be a more plodding, contemplative novel, but in the last twenty or so pages, plot events come rushing together. Before we see Jimmy’s father in the hospital, the book takes time to show low lonely Jimmy really is, and then, after the crash, the pace speeds up, and Jimmy goes through some significant events. He bonds (to a degree) with his adopted sister, must deal with his father’s death and mother’s impending marriage, and even summons the courage to talk to a woman at his job. It seems like Ware is trying to show the reader that even in a dreary life, one is not immune to change, and a person is still able to change from what he or she is. Ware’s message of personal change contrasts with the pattern he had set up with Jimmy’s ancestors. His great grandfather left his grandfather, his grandfather was distant to his father, and Jimmy’s father left Jimmy. The pattern in the narrative runs counter to Jimmy’s eventual change, and in a way, strengthens the change Jimmy is able to create, because of the historical adversity he overcame.
By the end of the book, one of the biggest questions I had still concerned the title of the comic. The motif of “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid Alive” appeared multiple times at the end, and I am still confused as to the purpose or even relation of the title to the character. It seems too persistent to just be a sarcastic comment on Jimmy’s life, and considering how the book ends, still seems out of place.

Jake Stambaugh said...

As I was reading the second half of Jimmy Corrigan I started noticing some of the interesting typography choices that Ware was making. Especially in the parts in the 1890s every font and style seems to have it's own voice.

The thin script (which can sometimes be difficult to read) has a very poetic voice and is used as Young Jimmy's inner monologue. The bold, sans-serif print often occupies its own red or blue panel and is only a few words, often conjuctions. These usually serve as transitions between actions, but start to be used more as the beginnings of Young Jimmy's thoughts, while also serving as transitions. The plain comic-sans is used throughout the book as dialogue, with italics and bold font used for different types of emphasis.

There are also interesting moments where Ware breaks these conventions, like on pg. 248, there are two solid red panels with single words in them, but the font is an intricate script.

Alec Brace said...

After completing the story I found myself in a state of confusion. Mostly, I'm wondering why it is also called The Smartest Kid on Earth. The story itself is pretty strange, Jimmy sees his dad for the first time, finds out he has a half-sister, Amy, then their father dies. Throughout the story there is constant shifts between the past and Jimmy's conscious too. From our discussion in class last week I started to pay more attention to reoccurring symbols in the pictures. This time around I decided to focus on the Superman figure. My thoughts are whether or not Ware is trying to show that the idea of super heroes is insignificant to this story or to the real world or maybe even both. The superman that plunges to his death in the beginning of the book shows that aspiring to be a super hero doesn't always turn out well. Later Jimmy sees the other driver in the car accident as superman. I wonder if Ware could be portraying superman in Jimmy's head in bad ways because he doesn't believe people should look up to super heroes as idols.

Kevin Weatherspoon said...

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is an interesting novel to me. The book is played out to be about a guy named Jimmy who is a lonely and shy character that has no type of social life and a mom that can be very frustrating at times. At the same time, he gets to meet his father for the first time while trying to escape his unhappiness in life by having imaginations that usually animate his situations he goes through.
Of the imaginations that he perceives, one of the most common ones that I’m still confused about is when he visualizes Superman. When people think of Superman the main thing that comes to mind is a super-hero. Since reading this book I still try to figure out what exactly is this Superman played out to symbolize. The comic hero has times where situations go well as a super-hero while sometimes Superman is imagined as being pretty bad. I seem to favor more towards him imagining that he wish Super-man was there to help out his situations the whole time but at the same time I’m not sure.