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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in the World

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Plot doesn’t play a big part in Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in the World. We follow Jimmy as he meets the father who deserted him when he was young (with some detours into the past when Jimmy’s grandfather was a kid). But it’s probably best to approach this book as a mood piece, the moods here being loneliness and regret.

There are many scenes of awkward conversations and even more awkward silences. Jimmy, though thirty-six, has trouble connecting with people verbally, often stuttering, laughing nervously, or barely responding at all. And the environments Jimmy moves through (apartments, diners, small town intersections) are drawn in a simple manner that make them feel listless.

Writer/illustrator Chris Ware uses his style to enhance the content. Most of the minor characters are shown with their faces turned away or covered up, which adds to Jimmy’s emotional isolation. There are a lot of smaller panels that slow the pace down. And many panels contain no dialogue or sound effects, making Jimmy’s world a quiet, empty one (though there’s a lot of coughing in this book). Ware uses solid lines and colors, and he often keeps his backgrounds minimal, though he’ll get quite detailed when the scene calls for it, as in his depictions of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

The book is a bit relentless in its melancholy tone, with few moments of joy or triumph for the characters. It wouldn’t have worked as a movie (unless you like boring, artsy films where characters stare at each other and you’re supposed to guess at what their thinking), but Ware chose the best medium with which to tell this particular story.

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About Paul De Angelis

  • jane

    HU U

  • nichole g.

    wow your so great because my greatest dream is to become a smartest in the world just like Albert Einstein your very lucky that god give it to you so thanks god.

  • roxy

    well u are my worst enemy i am the smarty pants of ******** primary so loser i hat u
    just joking

  • dammie

    hhhiii…so xcitedd

  • andrea

    how are you so smart your lucky because i want to be smart but i just cant study in school its hard and boring how did you get through it man your really lucky

  • angely

    dear jimmy corrigan, i hope you have time to be a kid somethimes because been the worlds smartest kid is not an easy job. well my name is angie and i wish i was just like you i am 14 years old and i admire you alot well TTYL. ANGIE

  • Diamond

    WOW!!!!!!! i can not believei am writing to the smartestkid in the world you know i read your book HOW TO SLEEP IN A KING SIZED-BED and it was the best book in history in my mind. well i guess i’d better be going my mom is calling me for dinner. BYE BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jack

    where are you from

  • kalay

    since they say your the smartest kid what kind of grades do you have so the real question is how smart are you

  • miranda

    Hey kid why be so smart its cool but have fun sometimes!!!!!!!!