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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 10 November 2016
A masterpiece by Chris Ware. One of the greatest ever graphic novels - a study of loneliness, isolation, emotional dislocation in a brilliant though simple-looking graphic style. This never rubs our face in it but allows much feeling for the central character, the flawed individual that he himself nevertheless is.

Jimmy Corrigan is a masterpiece that is found at the top of greatest ever graphic novels lists alternative in top place with Maus, Watchmen, Batman - The Dark Knight Returns, The Sandman series, Ghost World and the Bone series. The writing and presentation is that good.
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on 8 January 2015
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on 23 May 2009
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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on 10 May 2002
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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on 15 January 2010
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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on 21 January 2002
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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on 8 December 2001
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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on 21 November 2012
Jimmy Corrigan is an unlikeable character in a book that brings the graphic novel into the same field as all other great art forms; and, possibly, the artform with most to develop in the 21st Century.

The Corrigan family, damaged almost without respite through four generations, are depicted in various stages culminating with with a meeting between Jimmy and his father who deserted him as a child. It doesn't end happily. This book, despite its beautiful and artistic form, is an antithesis to the 'american dream': its colourful and childlike style is juxtaposed against the squalid existence of the characters.

Like many great works, it pays to read it again to pick up on the sub plots and details. Chris Ware has managed to allow you to empathise and sympathise with his characters, without liking them; that seems to me to be a great strength in a great artist.

Like all great art, this takes a bit of time to get your head around, but I finished it 3 days ago and I still lie awake at night pondering on it and its significance. This gets a five.
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on 27 December 2011
This is a beautifully illustrated book - a nice combo of comic, graphic novel, dark humour, schematics and all that jazz. I would recommend Chris Ware's other books too, he is a really talented guy. The layout of the book might seem confusing but I think that makes it even more engrossing. It makes me want to take my time over each page, and you really can appreciate all the work that went into every cell. The book reeks of effort and painstaking care and I love it.
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Jimmy Corrigan is a story of the modern day Jimmy and the parallel story of the adventures of his grandfather in the late 19th century. The story was originally published over 5 years in news print and has been collected complete in this volume.

I'd heard lots about it but resisted until a recent article in SFX magazine rated it in one of the best new GN's of the last 20 years.

Having read it I have to agree. The art is simplistic and yet manages to work perfectly, conveying the emotion, struggles and painful insecurity of the lead character perfectly.

The story itself is semi autobiographical tale from the author Chris Ware. I could strongly relate to it and found it a powerful and painful tale, much of it dealing with detachment and isolation stemming from parental rejection and mistreatment.

It's not an easy read for those with difficult upbringings but it's powerful stuff and quite brilliant. Definitely one of the modern comic greats.
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