Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware

This is a cartoon book, and quite a long one too. Jimmy Corrigan is a middle-aged(?) office worker who lives alone and supports his mother, who's in some kind of institution. One day he receives a letter from his father, who he's not seen since he was small, and the book tells the story of their reunion.

The artwork is quite stylised, but of consistently high quality. It's especially impressive, given that it was apparently drawn over a period of a couple of years, that there's no discernable change in the way the characters are drawn all through the book.

The story is told in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way, with frequent flashbacks and "what-ifs", which are usually not labelled as such. This makes it quite hard to work out what's going on, and in fact I was half thinking of giving it up when I reached a section that gave a resume of the plot so far and confirmed that I had been right in my attempts to guess what had gone on before.

It's quite a sad story, and by the end you feel you know and like/dislike the characters. I think that it might be worth re-reading the first bit at least, but I will definitely come back to the book for another go.

Some of the pictures, which range in size from very small panels to whole page drawings, are very impressive, and they succeed in conveying a mood very effectively.

Completed : 10-Oct-2003

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