Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth - Wikipedia
Chris Ware's graphic novel of an estranged father and son has a the barren butt-end of a dysfunctional dynasty of cowed, confused men, lost. If he didn't work in comicbooks, Chris Ware would be famous by now. By the end we have read a small-scale history of America's last one hundred . Q: Can you speak to the relationship between music and your comics?. Jimmy Corrigan is a tale of cyclical family dysfunction that follows four which is largely left understated at the end of the book; if there is a weakness in this . to establish what appears to be a relationship with a member of the opposite sex.
Before we are introduced to the older James character, Jimmy has a dream or something else? This seems to foreshadow the James character, as if Jimmy dreams of or has some kind of connection with his past. Could it be compensation for their lack of or excessive amount of parental affection? How do their familial ties influence their identity and affect their relationship with others? How is it similar or different? What are their understandings of social male and female roles?
Jordan It's fairly obvious that Jimmy's life is related to that of his grandfathers. Although the direct capacity of their intertwining stories isn't quite clear yet, we're given a glimpse at the end of the second chunk of reading. All three of the male Corrigans share distinct character traits, although the graphic novel is most concerned with the eldest James and Jimmy, using the younger James as a vehicle to connect the two. Interestingly, he is literally the connecting factor between the two men.
My discussion questions is for you to focus on what links Jimmy to the eldest James. Obviously things like their mannerisms would answer the question, but I'd like you to go deeper. What themes are prevalent in both of their stories?
Why do their stories end and begin when they do? Think about the other instance s of juxtaposition that we've seen in this course and how they may be similar in literary purpose or not. How does a story within a story change the way you interpret the text? What, if anything, would McCloud say about this idea?
Do you think the tools Ware employs to craft this visceral experience in the reader somehow compromise another aspect of realistic portrayal?
Who does it better?
Q and A With Comicbook Master Chris Ware
When considering these questions, thoughts of fragmentation and post-modernism certainly come into play. In what way is this post-modernism attempt successful or unsuccessful? Another aspect of the experience we get from J. Cite specific image examples and comparisons through images if possible.
In class on Tuesday, Dr. Have you, as a reader, experienced any similar experience reading this novel? If you had an extremely relatable reaction to a certain scene or set of panels that you feel properly conveyed a feeling, what techniques do you think played into it?
This feeling of imminent doom is expressed by Ware with the use of the red background surrounding James in the top right panel. For me, this was extremely relatable to the feeling of horror that washes over you when you realize something awful. For example, by tracing Jimmy's family history to Ireland, Ware removes the veil of the whiteness in lieu of a nationally specific identity. Ware does not, however, just offer these histories. Instead, he maps them geographically, thus making them into visual diagrams that the reader must interpret.
Ware presents history, and more precisely race, as an interpretative process, not unlike that of the graphic novel. The reader chooses how to the read the parts of the diagram, whether to read from left to right, up and down, or around.
How one sees or fails to see whiteness is dependent on how one sees or fails to see that history. Though Ware exposes whiteness as a carefully constructed illusion by historicizing race, significantly, the novel's central characters remain unaware of this history, demonstrating the relentless power of that illusion. While the first edition opens with a two-page guide on how to read graphic novels — with instructions on how to move freely up and down or allow the eye to take in an entire page of images — the paperback edition provides two new pages that instruct readers in how to read history spatially.
The pages illustrate an extensive diagram of the Corrigan family history. The broad, horizontal pages consist of a large globe at the center and an intricate series of more than one hundred small pictures of ships, historic buildings, European immigrants, and African slaves radiating in different directions from the globe. A series of arrows and lines, not unlike those found in a genealogical chart, connect these images, linking geography to genealogy.
Thus the image traces the Middle Passage and European immigration to the U. If this page may be said to provide a pictorial summary of, foreshadowing for, or guide to reading the novel, it also reminds us that there is no one center: Similarly, the diagram too is a process of interpretation.
Not only is it a maze that allows the eyes to roam its circuitous patterns, but it is visible in the hardback only if the reader unfolds the dust jacket. It is up to the reader to discover it. This reading practice in which the reader may or may not discover the whole history parallels Ware's treatment of race.
Without the specificity of history, whiteness remains invisible. Indeed, "The White City" serves as an apt metaphor for the geospatial race relations in the novel. The cities in the novel are shaped by the racial ideologies of their time, demonstrating the relationship between race and place.
And yet perspective — who sees and who fails to see — remains a constant theme. The novel's treatment of Chicago, for example, exemplifies the ways in which racial ideologies give shape and meaning to geographical space. As they travel in the city, Jimmy's great-grandfather William views a minstrel scene through a handheld viewer.
DWYCK: Jimmy Corrigan’s Spectacular Reality « The Hooded Utilitarian
A small black minstrel figure appears in the window and attempts to steal the pie. In the final slide the woman laughs as he drops the hot pie and the falling window strikes him on the head. In response to the slides, William laughs and explains to his son that he likes the pie slide best. Finally he says "Poor Old Jim Crow. The caption underneath reads "Hmm? Then where would we be? More specifically, the minstrel scene is not about the minstrel figure, but rather about the how this scene allows William to define his and his son's whiteness by witnessing the minstrel performance.
The minstrel becomes the occasion to say "Poor old Jim Crow," effectively securing his superiority through feigned pity. As the viewer, William maintains a position of privilege and power over the scene. Significantly, the scene also positions the city of Chicago as something stolen, a legacy that lives on in the Native American linguistic roots of the name Chicago. The question, "Where would we be? Chicago is not merely a backdrop for this scene; rather, it too is a character, implicated in the racial performance.
As the characters travel to and fro across the city, they not only witness Chicago's strident racial segregation but also reflect back the racial ideologies that shape the city's landscape.
In a series of panels, William and his son travel across the city again. After a long journey the scenery changes from stately architecture to shanty row houses, with black adults and children out front. This panel explains that they travel "past neighborhoods that most of the town goes out of its way to forget. Ware presents the Chicago World's Fair as a site where whiteness is actively being constructed through spatial elements. In a series of panels, Ware contrasts the World's Fair exhibits, "Dwellings of the Cannibals," and "Zoopraxographical Hall," a theater designed to show early moving animated images.
While a fence separates young Corrigan from the cannibal huts, an open door to the classical building of the Englishman invites him in. Obviously technological advancement, the beacon of modern culture, contrasts with primitivism, which functions as sideshow entertainment. But perhaps more importantly, the spaces signal difference and belonging to the child, shaping racial identity formation.
Still, the novel presents the illusion of whiteness as entrapment, rather than safety. The White City, for example, is the site where young Corrigan is abandoned by his father.
In a scene that ends the historical part of this narrative, the younger Corrigan follows his father "like a loyal animal" into the symbolic cage of an elevator. Progress, marked as white, is associated with attaining great heights, and the elevator ride leads father and son out to the very "edge of the largest building in the world" in a series of frames scaled to set personal drama as inconsequential against the grand architecture of the White City.
Ware gives us two images of father and son at the top of a grand building. One depicts the moment "where he put his hand on my shoulder and gently pressed," and the other shows the son being tossed off the building. But the small figures, no larger than a single letter of text, are eclipsed by the detail and magnificence of Ware's depiction of the building.
In smaller, subsequent frames, Ware supplies a close-up of the filicide. The father is shown lifting his son into the air in "a genuinely fatherly gesture," but then he tosses Jimmy off the building in what is glossed as "a truly dramatic manner by which to terminate one's paternity. Subsequent panels state that "No … he simply mumbled something dull to me, and stepped aside.
Jimmy Corrigan's tragedy, in other words, is the tragedy of lacking significance. This is the anxiety of whiteness: The image of loss at the top of a building provides a bookend to one of the novel's earliest scenes of loss: Superman's suicide from the top of a building.
Ware ties the two scenes together in order to suggest that white males are incapable of meeting the expectations of white symbols of progress and attainment. The protagonist is overshadowed by the white father, Superman, and history, represented through the White City. Whiteness and the Black Subject The illusions of whiteness in the novel are challenged by the appearance of Amy, Jimmy's African-American stepsister who is also his blood relation. Not only are none of the characters aware of this fact, but reader awareness depends upon careful attention to the details of the character's ancestry.
Thus the characters' ignorance offers just one model for how readers might interpret or rather misinterpret and actually miss key details in history.
Still, the larger schema from which readers make choices, and the possible sequences that link the Corrigan family history to the history of slavery, suggest the ways in which the illusion of race shapes how one sees and does not see history. More precisely, the history remains hidden because of the illusion of whiteness, an illusion that for Ware is always geographically located. Like "The White City," Jimmy's family is shaped by the illusion of its own newness and disconnection from a past marked by American slavery.
As they migrate to Waukosha, the small white suburb of Detroit, the invisibility of whiteness is solidified and Amy's connection to her patrilineal line disappears. Readers never fully know whether the liaison between Jimmy's great-grandfather and his maid was rape, seduction, or a consensual affair.
That Amy is related to Jimmy serves to further themes of invisibility and racial difference, but also deploys irony and paradox. Both characters are disconnected from their roots, but Jimmy searches for connection while Amy, the offspring who looks least like her parents, does not struggle to recover a mythic past.
When she tells Jimmy that she doesn't wish to meet her real mother, he is surprised. In positioning her as secure, despite her "broken" or unclear ancestry, Ware falls into myths of blackness as a present and secure signifier and whiteness, in contrast, as unstable.
The two characters come together over the hospital bed of their father, and Jimmy is depicted as weak and incapable of dealing with someone else's suffering while Amy is depicted as in control. Because she is introduced into the novel after William abandons his son, the narrative seems to suggest Amy's importance to healing, or at least to explaining, ancestral history. Blackness, in other words, serves to heal, explain, or justify whiteness.
DWYCK: Jimmy Corrigan’s Spectacular Reality
It is also in the Amy section, which is arguably the book's most continuous narrative, that whiteness most clearly gets made visible. Amy, after all, is a black child who has been abandoned, not unlike Jimmy's grandfather, setting up parallels between black and white identities.
Ware resurrects the specter of a broken Superman, dressing Jimmy exclusively in a Superman shirt, returning us to the beginning of the novel and its effort to make whiteness visible. Amy places protective coverings on Jimmy's bandaged foot, another image of Jimmy's brokenness introduced early in the novel. In having Amy attend to his wound, Ware further emphasizes their roles as racially defined and positions Amy problematically as caretaker to white brokenness.
As if recognizing some of the dangers of this representation of black and white identities, Ware highlights the ineffectual way that we talk about race.
The characters, for example, consciously give voice to the difficulty of talking about race, such as when Amy's adoptive father asks his father not to talk to Amy about the racist "colored's only day" of the Chicago World's Fair or when Amy expresses embarrassment over her Barry Manilow cassette.
Ware suggests in these interactions that we are not particularly skilled in talking about race. If Amy's role in the novel is to highlight the way conversations about race remain strained or even silenced, it is significant that the novel does not end with her.
Although she serves as both foil and echo to Jimmy Corrigan and essentially dominates the last fourth of the novel, the novel ends with Jimmy returning to Chicago and his humdrum life. As the last few pages return to the repetitive and colorless space of Jimmy's office cubicle, the snow is falling and it is Thanksgiving.
Sins of the Fathers: Oedipal Characteristics in Jimmy Corrigan | DJ Dycus - rhein-main-verzeichnis.info
Amy, of course, cannot return with him, and her function as part of Jimmy's new family ends. Jimmy's loneliness is amplified by some of the most repetitive images of the novel. The rectilinear space of the office cubicles and the saturated blue-green tones of this section are startlingly interrupted by the red hair of a new office worker, Tammy.
She may be seen as a displacement for the failed romance with Peggy, who inhabited the cubicle across from Jimmy at the opening of the novel, but she may also be seen as a female version of Jimmy, as she is also disconnected from her family on Thanksgiving. With her hand extended to Jimmy, she appears almost as a mirror image as he extends his hand.
But this new character, introduced in the very last pages of the novel, may also be seen as a substitution for Amy. Tammy engenders possibilities for Jimmy, essentially echoing Amy Jimmy's family and Peggy Jimmy's failed romantic interest. Tammy's name, ending with "y," is linked to the other women and to Jimmy as well.
In the final pages of the novel, Tammy seems to be inviting Jimmy to dinner for "Thanksgiving in a restaurant" as she gazes at the white snow: Almost appearing as a mere dot in the center of the left page, there is a small image of a masked Superman holding a baby while the opposite page simply states "The End.
In the paperback edition, Ware adds a last vision of Amy, who in two added pages is imagined as separate and independent from Jimmy.
She no longer serves as a foil for Jimmy's disconnection or his whiteness. Instead, she is seen going to work on a beautiful morning. As she replaces the early shift, the weather turns from sunny to rainy and the other nurse gets ready to leave.Woman as Sexual Object in Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Still envisioned as a caregiver, even in this last scene, Amy is, however, given her own agency. In this way, the added two pages serve as a correction to the hardback edition. In this mini-narrative, Amy takes an old, white man's pulse as if to echo how we last saw her caring for her white father. But she is also depicted as providing food, perhaps linking her to the caretaking of her great-grandmother who was maid to William Jimmy's great-grandfather.