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Customer Review

131 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally distant and affecting..., May 19, 2003
This review is from: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Hardcover)
I've never done this before. Buy a book. Can't stand it. Return it a few days later. Buy it back a few hours later. Fall in love with it. Such is my journey with Chris Ware's graphic book, "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth". Let me tell you first why I returned it, and what redeemed it.
I came across this book after a brief EW mention of it, rating it very high. Intrigued, I purchased a copy, and attempted to delve into its layers. Instead of intrigue, I found frustration, mainly because I simply didn't know how to look at the book. I didn't know where my eyes were supposed to go, so many of the early pages were difficult to read. Plus, the characters constant and sudden lapses into their daydreams made for early confusion.
So, I returned it, happy of my decision. And then, I attended a live version of "This American Life" that prominently featured the work of Ware. His artwork captivated me, enough to rebuy the book and try again. What I found was an entralling, captivating tale, multi-layered, and worth all the work to learn the language of his drawings.
It's the story of Jimmy Corrigan, an everyman without much of a life at all, who is contacted by his long lost father for a Thanksgiving reunion. Jimmy agrees to attend, which leads him on a retrospective journey of his life and his family. The story is both moving and rich, full of layers upon layers. Once you learn Ware's language, and what he tries to communicate, the story begins to shine like a lighthouse beacon through the pages. I was surprised to find myself crying at certain parts of the book; my brain was telling me this is simply a comic story, but my heart was breaking along with the characters. That alone is impressive.
Ware's drawings are incredible. He communicates so much through each drawing, you need to "read" this slowly, and internalize the story. Whereas you tend to want to skip the less important drawings, quite often they will give you the most information. This book is not one to read quickly, but enjoy, like a fine, fine wine.
I look forward to more work from Chris Ware. His artist's eye is impressive, but his storytelling is even more so.
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