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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a cartoon...
I waited 2 months to get this book after reading that it had won the Guardian first book award. I don't regularly read 'graphic novels' (well not since I was 13/14 and then it was 2001AD etc!) so this was a bit of a departure.
I wasn't disappointed. Jimmy Corrigan is incredibly well observed. It is funny, tragic, absurd, moving, frustrating...don't read this novel...
Published on 10 May 2002

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deeply bizarre
To be honest I got very bored reading this .... the illustations are very dense and complex - and the actual visual presentation is, initially, good but after a bit it just becomes a real chore to wade through it all.... and not a great deal happens. I'm sure its cult reading and will become a "classic" but it wasnt for me. Sorry.
Published 18 months ago by Mr. John Fullick


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a cartoon..., 10 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
I waited 2 months to get this book after reading that it had won the Guardian first book award. I don't regularly read 'graphic novels' (well not since I was 13/14 and then it was 2001AD etc!) so this was a bit of a departure.
I wasn't disappointed. Jimmy Corrigan is incredibly well observed. It is funny, tragic, absurd, moving, frustrating...don't read this novel if you are expecting a 10 minute, light hearted cartoon. The characterisation is superb, interaction is captured in a way which brings the characters to life, the way in which, e.g., it conveys conversational pauses and awkwardness is so accurate you feel like you are there with the protagonists, cringing, fearing, hoping, anticipating. Jimmy (and his father & grandfathers') experiences/thoughts/hopes/dreams/ambitions are dissected mercilessly, even cruelly, and yet there is affection and an affinity which goes beyond simple relationships (as does the book).
The story and the great artwork drew me in and made me really think about Jimmy, his life, his dreams, it is a fantastic book.
Do you want a book which makes you reflect, laugh out loud, moves you, is funny, tragic and above all brilliantly realised?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone should read at least twice., 26 Jun 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This book is almost undescribable, the artwork is beautiful and intricate - I read it about 5 times just to look at the detail.
Ware creates a sad and totally helpless character who we grow to know and love, but he also frustrates as he is TOTALLY helpless. The character's innate muteness matches the clean illustrations - this lack of text, however, is not detremental to the quality of the book, we still see the depth of plot and complexity of character we would expect from a 1000 pages of writers block.
The plot follows Jimmy Corrigan meeting his long lost father and inturn meeting his half-sister. The story interchanges with the plot of Jimmy's grandfather as a child, growing up with his unloving father during the time of the World Expo in Chicago.
The narration is very disjointed and the boxes sometimes hard to 'read' in the right order, furthermore the story lapses into dreams or 'what if's without warning making the book a challenge to read but this only makes you want to read more.
Ware captures his characters life in the short space of time and accurately and truthfully portrays it in the plot, the plot whizzes along with no evident climaxes or low periods simply events. Jimmy seems to just drift through these events in his quiet bumbling way, avoiding fuss of any kind although he secretly longs to be a superhero.
Overall I believe this book to be one of the most incitive and wonderful books I've read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If not the best graphic novel I've ever read, then the second, 23 May 2009
By 
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
An Astounding Examination of the Failures Between Fathers and Son

Rare is the work of literature that leaves you in stunned silence when the last page has been turned, the last word tasted on the tip of your tongue. Jimmy Corrigen is such a story, and the most surprising thing is that it's a graphic novel. It is the first ever comic to receive the esteemed Guardian First Book Award, and it's certainly no fluke.

Jimmy is a third generation Corrigen son, a very lonely man in a dead-end job, with an overbearing mother. He is everything but the smartest kid on earth, and frequently thinks of committing suicide. What keeps him from killing himself is the hope of getting to know his father, and discovering who has left him a mysterious love letter. His powerful imagination, in which he is a superhero, protects the fragile Jimmy from a cruel world that undermines his every effort to assert himself.

Jimmy's narrative is inextricably woven with that of his father and his grandfather, as the novel explores their childhoods and the things that shaped the Corrigens, culminating in Jimmy's sorry state. It is a touching tale that is not a little disturbing, packed with awesome attention to detail. In fact, Chris Ware's abilities as a storyteller and illustrator, in portraying the complex and often uncomfortable relationships between fathers and sons, makes it seem that this is one of the most intimate autobiographies ever told. This graphic novel should be read by anyone who takes reading seriously, and everyone that doesn't take comics seriously.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple yet epic masterpiece, 19 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This book is one of the finest comics I have ever read. It looks simple, and yet is so crammed with inner meaning and symbolism that it would take several readings to swallow it all. The layout of the pages is astonishingly complex, sometimes giving a whole page to just somebody breathing. Ordinary actions, like getting out of bed, are covered with so much detail that they soon look like moves in a cosmic chess game. It mixes everyday reality with daydreams with remarkable fluidity. A marvel of the comics medium.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picture Perfect, 8 Dec 2001
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Readers of The Guardian will be sick of hearing about this book by now, but for the uninitiated, this book by Chris Ware has just become the first graphic novel ever to win a literary prize in the UK. For those of you to whom the dread words "graphic novel" summon forth images of new "limited" edition Superman specials or - even worse - Neil Gaiman's tiresome po-faced mythologising, fear not. I fancy, in fact, that the very self-effacing Chris Ware would demur at the use of the term, and prefer "strip cartoon," because that's how Jimmy Corrigan started out - as a weekly page in a local paper which was intended to run for three months and, in the way of these things, went on for six years. I guess, to quote J.R.R. Tolkein - for the first and only time in my life, promise - on his own pictureless graphic novel The Lord of the Rings, the tale grew in the telling.
The tale itself is fairly minimal in plot. Jimmy, a middle-aged lonely man whose only phone calls come from his mother - and whom, in turn, he ferociously resents - fantasises mildly about a superhero life as The Smartest Kid on Earth. His father, whom he has never met, writes to him out of the blue one day and suggests they meet up. And, er, that's it. They meet, while in parallel run the tales of Jimmy's father and grandfather, and their relationships with their fathers. The violent and unpredictable great-Corrigan is a horror to behold. Jimmy's own father is, much to Jimmy's surprise, a nice man, like himself.
The beauty of Jimmy Corrigan then is not in the plot but in the absolutely perfect and seamless conjunction of media - the words and drawings work so well together that the whole thing really looks as though it sprang from the womb fully-formed; and if there is evidence for Ware's apparent shame at the supposedly amateurish half-baked nature of the early strips, it doesn't show up on the page. One sequence among many hundreds sticks in the mind: an horrific dream scene where Jimmy (or is it his grandfather?) imagines his baby son being blown to pieces and runs around trying to save him as the child cries piteously to him, reminiscent somehow of the pivotal scene in Catch-22 where Snowden's "I'm cold. I'm cold" unfolds its full horror. The layout of frames and the precisely judged pauses between the frames actually make this scene, and the entire book, impossible to read badly. And the artwork throughout is as meticulous and dry as Jimmy Corrigan himself, and the attention to detail utterly breathtaking.
For the prurient, the book even provides sustenance for art-and-life theorists. Chris Ware himself never met his father until one day - while, so the story goes, he was working on Jimmy Corrigan - he wrote to him and suggested they meet up... How much further art imitates life would be churlish to guess, but I will say this: physically, Chris Ware? Jimmy Corrigan? Tefal-heads to a man.
As well as all that, Jimmy Corrigan is a beautiful artefact, brilliantly put together with a detailed fold-out cover and lots of pointless but tempting cut-out zeotropes and farmyard scenes. The hardback is £18 but worth every penny. Get it on your wish list now and have a happy Christmas thanking god you're not Jimmy Corrigan.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, a benchmark for the graphic genre, 21 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This is one of the most sublimely beautiful, elancholy books I've ever read. The detail taken to create this is truly breathtaking. Ware has an eye for the smaller things in life, from the little robin on the tree, down to the subtleties of the main character's family tree. This book reminds us that little details make our life stunning.
It also has a brilliant way of looking at the present as an evolution of the past, and that the world has changed imeasurabely in the last century. A must for anyone interested in books
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deeply bizarre, 13 Jun 2013
By 
Mr. John Fullick (Shrewsbury UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
To be honest I got very bored reading this .... the illustations are very dense and complex - and the actual visual presentation is, initially, good but after a bit it just becomes a real chore to wade through it all.... and not a great deal happens. I'm sure its cult reading and will become a "classic" but it wasnt for me. Sorry.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest graphic novel ever?, 9 July 2001
By 
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
This is an outstanding achievement, beautifully designed and possessing an emotional power and subtlety unmatched in the comic/graphic novel genre. Ware's exquisitely realized, yet flat and distanced graphic style intensifies the sorrow and loneliness of the story to a pitch of devastation. This extraordinary, unique book places its author in the company of the greatest masters of graphic story-telling and sets new standards for the form. Six stars!
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a real labour of love that deserves a Thumbs Up!, 23 Aug 2014
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Autobiography, and more unusually Literary Fiction, are rarely seen in graphic novels. This bold endeavour combines both. Originally a newspaper strip running for over five years this mammoth examination of father/ son connections explores several generations of the same family largely using two different time periods.

The episodic nature of its origins presents a series of scenes or tableaus without commentary or judgement but with brutal honesty allowing us to see just how painfully uncomfortable relationships and familial interaction can be. There is a bit of monologue or narration but usually we are left, just as with real human beings, to puzzle out what is going on for ourselves.

You can sense Ware growing as a writer as it is not until the last third of the book that he really discovers just how poignant and moving this medium can actually become. There are some of the Ware trademarks such as cut outs and fake instructional manuals but these are rare.

The art is more illustrative than cartoonish. With a limited palette and limited dimensions (but good perspective) he creates his own distinctive style. Everything is very tidy and deliberate with no sketching or rough textures visible. He also loves tiny panels and tiny lettering which can slow you down as you are forced to stop and squint. Ware also develops his own visual vocabulary using different styles and colours to indicate memories, thoughts and even exposition.

This work relies on the reader working hard and investing in something that is more art than literature. But it is just as easy to enter this story if you have never read a comic as if you were fluent in what has gone before.

This is a real labour of love that deserves a Thumbs Up!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Low price for a work of art, 15 Jan 2010
By 
M. Smith - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
Though the maudlin story is itself not exactly a page turner (at times it's quite hard going - something the author himself admits to), the way it's told is extraordinary. I loved comics as a kid and at times find myself returning to Batman or Tintin, but for nostalgia as much as anything else. Now I'm an adult I just don't get as absorbed in the pictures the way I used to. Thanks to Chris Ware, reading this sophisticated and meticulously rendered book I've regained something I thought had faded forever. A frequently beguiling and shockingly affective work - there were several points I found my eyes misting up, though perhaps more because of the beauty and sensitivity of the illustration than the sad and pathetic life of the protagonist (which at times actually got on my nerves). There are numerous segments taken up with frankly boring and even visually uninteresting domestic scenarios involving Jimmy and his Dad, but in its better moments - and there are many - this is true art. Totally original, astoundingly accomplished and an attention to detail bordering on the worrying.
3 stars for the story, 10 for everything else.
It's really worth paying the extra for the hardback edition - the dust jacket is a work in itself, and as a whole the book is a beautiful object. It even smells good ...
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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Hardcover - 14 Jun 2001)
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