Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  14,074 ratings  ·  820 reviews
This first book from Chicago author Chris Ware is a pleasantly-decorated view at a lonely and emotionally-impaired "everyman" (Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth), who is provided, at age 36, the opportunity to meet his father for the first time. An improvisatory romance which gingerly deports itself between 1890's Chicago and 1980's small town Michigan, the reader...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2000)
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Jay
Mar 23, 2007 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with eyes, brains, gasping capabilities
I'm surprised that GoodReads doesn't allow a sixth star for this book alone. I can not say enough great things about Jimmy Corrigan. Honestly, it changed my life, and I can't imagine anyone not being in awe of its mathematics, literally and figuratively. This book is like the Catcher in the Rye for graphic novels. It raised the bar and it will not be matched for a very long time. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Breathtaking and deep. Brilliant.
Kyle
I love me some graphic novels but I don't pretend that the vast majority of them rise to the level of serious literature. Most of the time I look for the large number of books out there that are "clever" (as in, better than 90% of TV) as a mindless respite between novels. And in the case of ones such as Louis Riel, Berlin, or Maus, I get a little bit of education without trudging through a 600 page history book.

Jimmy Corrigan, though, is one of the five or six graphic novels I've read that have...more
Dave Russell
This is my third foray into the world of graphic novels. This book compels me to continue into this genre. Chris Ware tells a heart-rending story of loneliness, but what truly captured my admiration was the artwork. He does a sort of stylistic 180 from the narrative. While the story is intimate and emotional his images sort of stand back. He employs repeated frames of seemingly insignificant details, such as a bird moving along a tree branch. He emphasizes the alienation of the characters by foc...more
Nick
Well, the technical quality of the art is certainly good, and it's formally inventive and all that, and it most definitely does an effective job at maintaining and conveying a consistent mood- if you were feeling charitable, you could even say that there's something kind of magnificent about it's overwhelming, unrelieved bleakness- but when I was finished I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the point of the whole thing had been. On quality I'd say it deserved three stars, if it wasn't...more
Melki
I won't lie to you.

I spent days not liking this book.

Jimmy Corrigan is described by the author as "a lonely, emotionally-impaired human castaway."
You got that right!
He's also possibly the dullest man on Earth and Chris Ware does not skimp on the tedium. Panel after cartoon panel of people sitting in diners, doctors' offices, and hospital waiting rooms.
This is WAY too much like MY life.

Then we meet Jimmy's grandfather, a sad and lonely child, and his great-grandfather, who helped build the Whit...more
Kayfor4me
Imagine life eclipsed by imagination. The bloodiest, the most beautiful, the most vulnerable imaginings, and the disintegration of wishes as we make them. This is how life unfolds in the mind of Jimmy Corrigan, the desolate main character in Chris Ware’s graphic novel. Jimmy speaks full sentences—only when he imagines. In his mind he has courage, kills people, commits suicide, has sex, and is “the smartest kid on earth.” In his actual life, Jimmy is a spineless, aging man, with no friends and no...more
Gina
HOLY FUCK. SERIOUSLY. THIS NEEDS TO COME WITH A WARNING.

Are you a well-balanced individual? Are you in need of a spell of serious depression? Do you like to torture your ability to sympathize with characters to the point you may experience physical spasms of anxiety for them?

WELL THANK GOD SOMEONE WROTE THIS BOOK TO FILL THAT SUNNY NICHE.

I'll admit the way the author laid out the book and illustrated it was phenomenal. I loved its unconventional layouts and unique visual narration; worth all th...more
Geoff Sebesta
I read Jimmy Corrigan sitting in a Denny's in Florida in 2000, watching the Bush/Gore election returns. I just finished rereading it again today. It's nowhere near as depressing as it was the first time, but then, how could it be?

I remember putting the book down in 1999 when I got to the last page and realized the complexity of the joke that has been pulled on him, the author, and us. He will never be happy. It will never end, and never change. Superman is not going to save him.

This time it was...more
Mark
Incredibly sad. The impressive thing is most of the melancholy doesn't stem from overwrought, dramatic events but rather the eerily believable facets of Jimmy's life. The drab apartment buildings with neglected trees and empty parking lots, complete with a McDonald's arch in the distance. Jimmy eating a can of Campbell's soup by himself after stammering his way through a conversation with his overbearing mother. The shitty Thanksgiving decorations at the retirement home he visits.

Although the b...more
Laura
Some of my favorite books are graphic novels, and this one is second maybe only to Blankets. It's a sad, shockingly complex graphic novel that toys with your expectations of the comic medium. Jimmy's a lonely middle-aged man who's in an unhealthily co-dependent relationship with his also-lonely mother. He doesn't know who his father is--until the day he sees a man dressed as Superman commit suicide outside his office window. On that same day, he receives a letter and a plane ticket from a strang...more
Patrick
I know this is the graphic novel to end all graphic novels but I have to say I wasn't terribly blown away. It was well laid out and pretty to look at but was almost cliched in its portrayal of a loner. Meh.
Anne
A friend, a physicist actually, recommended this to me after I rolled my eyes at superhero comic books. It's really great, heavy stuff. In just episode 1, Jimmy gets to meet his hero at a convention, who macks on his mom, stays the night, ignores Jimmy, and then leaves Jimmy to pass on his regrets/greetings to the mom.
The big plot, though, is twofold. One, how Jimmy gets re-discovered by his father, who had earlier walked. It turns out the father had re-married, and the story of that family is...more
Vale
E' una graphic novel costruita per gli appassionati del genere perché decostruisce il genere stesso. In realtà è molto difficile leggerla in quanto lunga e ricca di immagini che smesso creano confusione, ma l'autore non smette di prendere in giro il suo lettore e di ironizzare sul genere neanche un momento, sin dalla copertina! E la storia del povero Jimmy, ne vogliamo parlare? Fa male, ma caspita quanto è vera! Non potrò più pensare in futuro al concetto di solitudine senza pensare a Jimmy Corr...more
Gregsamsa
THIS BOOK IS MAGIC.
Kayla
I was recommended this book for the artwork. I loved the artwork, the author, Ware, was able to say so much, with just the layout alone and of course the images themselves. No space inside or outside was wasted (or the dust cover) was wasted. On every panel, every surface there was something interesting to look at. As for the story, when I just picked this up my first thoughts were, "What the hell am I reading?" and "What is this about?" The story is a little confusing as to where it is going, i...more
Elizabeth La Lettrice
I wanted to give this one 3 stars but I bumped it up with the following explanation:

There is definitely genius here in this book, though I was too absorbed in other things to fully see it. I had to do an inter-library loan for this book and it finally came when I had already gotten deep enough into Les Misérables's more duller parts. I was afraid that if I stopped reading Les Mis, I might stop forever (oh, the horror!). Then Hurricane Sandy bitched her way into NY and that was yet another distra...more
Andrew
I couldn't put it down. It was so revealing, sad and human at it's core. Uncomfortable at times when I was perhaps too able to relate to the characters but ultimately I was a satisfying read. A gentle reminder that life could be worse and that either way it'll end. While death is a part of the story it's not necessarily a main theme. The subtextual theme I pulled from it is the unfulfilled life, which I see as a form of death. The only kind of death that can be rattled away with a hard shake of...more
Erin
So in my life to date I think I’ve read in the neighbourhood of a eight hundred books. A figure arrived at with the base calculation of 50 books a year for the last ten years + 30 books a year for the ten years between 6-16. A number of no consequence whatsoever except when contrasted with the six (total) graphic novels I’ve read: Spiegleman’s Maus I and II, Persepolis, Riel, and the Unwritten, and now, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan.

I mention all this because I have a lot of practice deciding what...more
Sechavar
Ware's graphic novel was difficult to read. Not always because of his flow, the order in which he intends the reader to read the separate boxes, but mostly because it was incredibly incredibly sad. I almost feel as though this was a long meditation on sadness and on loneliness. And in this long meditation, Ware has made a beautiful rendition of sadness.
The main character, although I am hesitant to call him that because there are other characters we come to know intimately, is Jimmy Corrigan, and...more
Williwaw
This is possibly the saddest book that I have ever read. Sure, it is a "comic book," but don't let the format fool you into thinking that this is light reading. This is serious, disturbing stuff. It's not totally lacking in humor, but the prevailing themes are loss, rejection, death, crippling emotional and physical wounds, alienation, and dysfunctional family dynamics.

Chris Ware is a genius of panelology (albet, extremely rectilinear panelology) and color. He's also good at employing leitmotif...more
Nicki
Jimmy Corrigan is a self-conscious, mother-pleasing, middle-aged man who is still encased in the unshed angst of a teenager. After getting an invitation to visit his father, whom he’s never met, he sets off on what becomes quite a little adventure compared to his uneventful life. That’s Jimmy Corrigan, the character, in a nutshell. But Jimmy Corrigan, the book, is so much more.

Every time Miguel would look to see what page I was on, he’d declare, “You’re reading it too fast!” Indeed, with so muc...more
bup
God help me, but I'm addicted to lists. So when I saw a goodreads friend had a shelf of 'Guardian 1000' top novels, I had to know what it was. So far I've been able to resist the temptation to make my own shelf at goodreads to keep track of it, but I did download the list from the Guardian website and import it into a spreadsheet. The list doesn't quite ping my O/C tracking instinct enough, though, because among the books I noticed a misspelled author's name, an entry for the 'book' "The Chronic...more
Alan
This a sad book about a boy, well man, withdrawn, mother dominated, expecting nothing, but allowing himself fantasies of what might be. He meets disappointing father (cf David Vann’s book), and loses (or never gets) girl, a pattern repeated through history by his grandfather and great grandfather. The rather beautiful frames show landscapes of loneliness where buildings dwarf figures working on them (the 19th Century Chicago Expo features heavily) or walking by, where not only is the food always...more
Emily
One of the books I lugged to St. Louis with me was a paperback version of Chris Ware's award-winning Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid in the World, a surprisingly introspective graphic novel that originally appeared as a serial "cartoon" in a Chicago magazine.

It is the story of a withdrawn middle-aged man, blown sideways through life, who one day gets a letter from his long-lost biological father, casually asking him to come for a visit. The story of Jimmy's visit to his father Billy alternates...more
M. Rephun
Jul 29, 2009 M. Rephun rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who isn't scared off by books that are challenging and depressing
Recommended to M. by: discovered it on my own
I don't have much to add about Chris Ware's brilliant graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The smartest kid on Earth, that hasn't already been said. Yes, it is incredibly sad. The characters move like ghosts through the alienated landscape they inhabit, and their loneliness is palpable. When the title character, a doughy, middle-aged loner, stammers that he just wants people to like him, it hits home in ways that are almost disturbing.
Some may be put off at first by the book's dense symbolism and int...more
David Glenn Dixon
Washington City Paper
Arts & Entertainment : Book Review

Cit of the Slumped Shoulders
By Glenn Dixon • November 10, 2000

If this is the first you're hearing of "Jimmy Corrigan," don't blame me for not having tried sooner. About four years ago, some of us arts guys at the Washington City Paper were bucking to get new comix. Out would be Matt Groening's "Toddler Parade," Steve Brodner's "Not-Quite-Outrageous Current Events Hyperbole," and "Julius Knipl's Lower East Side Egg Salad Sandwich and Funn...more
Robert Beveridge
Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon, 2003)

I don't think it would be overreaching to say that, even if it is not, Charis Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth has been touted as the single book that ignited the renaissance of popularity (and social acceptability) in graphic novels in America; it was almost certainly the first to be widely discussed in entertainment magazines and on National Public Radio. It took me a while to get round to it, and I'm thankfu...more
Eleanor
May 20, 2007 Eleanor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of graphic novels
Easily the best graphic novel I've read, if you are into Chris Ware's stuff (and I would even recommend this book as a starter) I highly highly recommend getting the hardcover version with the dust-cover. The cover folds out to form a gigantic two sided poster that is practically its own novel, Ware excells at minutia and the dust-cover is no exception, I think I spent at least an hour reading it.

The book itself absolutely demolishes convential form on many levels, from the way you hold the boo...more
Kathleen
such excellent draftsmanship, such a sad story~~ very inspiring in its layouts and design (pay attention to how he draws rain glittering as it passes through a streetlight, thats something new to me) and man is the story a sad one.. i feel bad for the main character to the point i want to hug him for the better part of the book. it almost became emotionally too much at one point, but by the end i was glad i made it through: this book is a work of art.
Mcgyver5
Masterful work and would have given it five stars except it was almost without hope or satisfaction. This took a long time for seemingly unrelated stories and dream sequences to coalesce into a story. The book helps distract you from your confusion with repeated gut punches of loneliness and awkwardness.

There were several instances of laugh-out-loud black humor. There were way more sequences that made me fold over in psychic pain.

Has scenes from the Chicago World's Fair that would make it a grea...more
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CHRIS WARE is widely acknowledged as the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and seven-year-old daughter. His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade by the London Times in 2009. An irregular contributor to This American Life and The New Yorker (where some of the pages...more
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