15 December 2004
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, 'Fortunately...'
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, "Fortunately...". James Reed Corrigan, the grandfather of the title character, plays hide-and-seek with neighborhood children during the viewing of his recently deceased grandmother. An older red-headed girl catches his attention.
I had read this a few months ago (after years of reading its praises) and was captivated. The author, Chris Ware, has for-lack-of-a-more-insightful-description a completely unique graphic storytelling style. It is part stylized illustration and part illustrative diagramming. The details of some of the more inventive pages are too precise and intricate to reproduce here, so I've chosen a more poetic piece. The inside covers include glossed reviews that both praise and deride the work--allowing Ware to poke fun at himself in the same self-depracating tone that the narrative takes in its assessment of his family's history. Some reviews are so over-the-top, I suspect they're planted:
The colours are dreadful, it's like looking at a bottle of Domestos or Harpic or Ajax. Awful bleak colours, revolting to look at; it's on its way to the Oxfam shop. Disgusting look to it. really horrible. - poet Tom Paulin, BBC Newsnight, December 8th 2001.
Here's the text of the page (with panels denoted by ellipses):
Fortunately, for these children ... A recent planting of trees, telephone poles, & houses on their bleak neighborhood landscape ... helps to make their game much more exciting. ... After all, who'd want to play hide & go seek in a swamp? ... A half centruy earlier, the only place to secret yourself around here might've been in a depression in the ground ... or behind an indian on horseback. ... But, with the inevitable forward march of progress ... come new ways of hiding things, ... and new things to hide.
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