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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you never read another graphic novel..., 12 Feb 2004
This review is from: The Adventures of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Paperback)
The term “graphic novel” is one that is thrown around much too frequently. I would argue that most are just lengthy comics. Only a few really fit into the graphic novel category for me: Art Spiegelman's “Maus”, Daniel Clowes’ “David Boring”, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s “From Hell” are good examples. Now I have to add one to the top of that list: Chris Ware’s “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth.”
Ware’s story revolves around the unremarkable lives of four generations of Corrigan men. Using flashbacks and dream sequences, Ware creates a fairly seamless and addictive read. The titular character, the perpetually single/momma’s boy/office dullard/generally unhappy Corrigan, receives a letter from his long since departed father, who wishes to see his boy again. The two meet in what is an anticlimactic and unremarkable (but very funny) reunion. This is intertwined with another tale of Corrigan’s grandfather a century earlier as a young boy who finds it hard to make friends living in Chicago with his womanizing and scheming father. This isn’t saying anything new, but it’s definitely a male oriented book. It about father/son relationships and about the roles men find themselves in relation to the women in their lives. All the female characters (minus one) are faceless, from Jimmy’s domineering mother to his grandfather’s first crush. That’s just one of the many nuances of the story.
Ware’s art, much like the storyline, is deceptively simplistic. The characters are very iconic, some looking as if they jumped from the pages of a Sunday comic strip. Yet they are placed in these wholly tragic and depressing situations or lifestyles. Describing the art as simple may be an oversight however. Ware has the ability to grip you with impressively detailed landscapes (there’s a double page spread of the Chicago Worlds Fair that I stared at for a good half hour). Another aspect worth mentioning is the design. Ware uses an entirely unique system of paneling; unlike any I’ve ever seen. He has created his own style of sequential art that is a bit difficult to get through at first, but works very well.
Everyone I’ve ever talked to about “Jimmy Corrigan” has felt the same way as I do. It’s a remarkable read that really evokes so many emotions that there aren’t words to describe some of them. Buy this book, and if it interests you, get a hold of Ware’s “Acme Novelty Library” from Fantagraphics. It includes more tales of Jimmy Corrigan, as well as lots of other characters and stories worth checking out.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Nov 2010 20:17:21 GMT
A graphic novel is just a comic which is first published in its completed form. This comic was published in installments and subsequently collected into a single volume, making it by definition a trade paperback, not a graphic novel.
I agree, however, that it is literature.
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