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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  22,109 ratings  ·  1,332 reviews
Jimmy Corrigan has rightly been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever to be published. It won the Guardian First Book Award 2001, the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize.

It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story and the drawings
Paperback, 380 pages
Published May 22nd 2003 by Jonathan Cape (first published September 12th 2000)
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Claudia Stehle Most of all, take your time. It took me years, and now it's in my heart.…moreMost of all, take your time. It took me years, and now it's in my heart.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  22,109 ratings  ·  1,332 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing

This is a five star graphic novel , so I am giving it five stars. However, I hated it. Well, no, I didn’t hate it, I hated reading it. So I am abandoning it with relief.

The great thing about this book is the brilliant graphic concepts which dazzle and delight on every other page. They are really stunning.

The unreadable thing about this book is its subject matter, which is the life of a miserable loner with a bullying father examined in very great painful detail. Rarely has a book been so origin
Oct 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I guess I understand why people MIGHT consider this a masterpiece. I, myself not a wholehearted admirer of the graphic novel, am usually very surprised by the narrative techniques and posh styles used in famous graphic novels like "Watchmen", "Maus" &, most recently, "Ghost World". This one is said to "elevate the medium" to another level and it kinda sorta does: like witnessing Jim Carrey going from funnyman to dramatic actor! The story is so droll, boring, sad... did I really need this type of ...more
Mar 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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. ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Geoff Sebesta
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 2000 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
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dave Russell
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Dave Schaafsma
I have read this 3-4 times but never felt ready to review it in the manner it deserves.. and am still not quite ready. This is a great work, maybe the very work that catapulted Ware into the upper reaches of the comics hierarchy. Ware, one of the 4-5 most influential and greatest comics writers in the world, started this graphic novel with the intention to do a summer of strips in 1995 for an alternative mag here in Chicago, New City, where is was buried where comics are usually buried, in the w ...more
Robert Beveridge
Jan 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
John Pistelli
In lieu of an essay, some notes (with spoilers):

1. I both intellectually acknowledge the brilliance of this book and viscerally dislike it.

2. I bought it and began reading it in late 2000; I set it aside after about 100 pages and only took it up again—a library copy; I have no idea where mine is—two days ago. Back in 2000, when I was all of 18, I remember being immensely moved by some of those first 100 pages; Jimmy’s fantasy of being murdered by Superman, in particular, overwhelmed me. But the
Tom LA
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
The art gets six stars, but the content deserves less than zero stars. Hence, a generous 3.

Chris Ware is the Johann Sebastian Bach of drawing graphic novels pages, but when it comes to the stories he chooses to tell - the HORROR, the HORROR! Someone else should have written the script for him, and let the author do only the drawings.

This semi-autobiographical story about a character who is the caricature of insecurity is not endearing, not warm-hearted, not empathetic, not interesting, not ins
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Joey Shapiro
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If this were made into a 7 hour movie I would fully watch it. A lot of reviews have called it the greatest graphic novel ever and compared it to real life Great Literature™️ like Ulysses and Dostoevsky books and I really truly get it. It’s so dense and layered and so so innovative in the way it presents a four-generation-spanning story about fathers and sons and trying to break cycles of abuse. It’s maybe one of the most consistently bleak books I’ve ever read, and it broke my heart many many ti ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a point in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, about a third of the way through, when the author provides a summary of the story so far. Until then, I was disoriented, a bit unclear what was real and what was dream/fantasy. Sometimes, that kind of ambiguity can feel like a puzzle - I'm drawn in by the desire to figure it all out. But not so here, I was bored and frustrated. I didn't trust the author enough yet to feel confident there was a puzzle to solve. Maybe it would just mud ...more
Maksym Karpovets
Chris Ware is one of the most unusual writers in the comic industry so far, who experiments with forms and panels in order to convey his personal emotions and feelings (well, at least it seems on the first glance). His works do follow a comic standard, ignoring or deconstructing its patterns, thus some researchers called this genre of strategy as a “meta-comic”. However, it is significant that Ware is always open and honest with the reader, using the huge potential of subjective narration for ex ...more
This is probably the most peculiar graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a sad-sack workaholic who, at 36, has no friends apart from his mother, who constantly telephones him. One day he gets a letter from the father he’s never met, asking him to come meet him. And so Jimmy gets on a plane from Chicago out to suburban Michigan.

Corrigan is one of those unfortunate-looking fellows who has a potato for a head and a wispy comb-over, and could be anywhere between 30 and 60;
B Schrodinger
Nov 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is essentially a graphic novel version of Confederacy of Dunces. The main character is a bland two-dimensional simpleton who has a depressing life. There is nothing entertaining about this story, nor informative. It is pointless. I cannot empathise with the character at all.

So essentially, if you thought Dunces was a masterpiece, you'll love this. For everyone else, steer well clear.
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Madrileña Reader
Jun 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned-books
A pretentious graphic novel for hipsters to feel intellectual. Not impressed. Boring, depressing and nonsensical. Go read Ulysses.
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This graphic novel is truly poignant. Flipping through the book, you find little superficial evidence to corroborate my statement. Which is precisely why you ought to plunge in and get past your initial impression. If you are looking for artwork à la Sandman or Kabuki, you may wrongfully judge the more simple style of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Push forward and don't miss exploring his mind and emotions.

As other readers have mentioned, the pace can be a bit sluggish and due to t
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Erika Schoeps
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Goddamit. This book was an overwhelming masterpiece. I cried 4 times during this book, a new record for me. Despite the overly emotional reaction, this book isn't just a tear jerker, but a work of art. Dense and beautiful, this book makes you work for the heart breaking ending.

An examination of trauma through history, the background story hurts just as much as the main story arc, if not more. On top of juggling multiple story lines, Chris Ware also handles lots of complex symbols and motifs tha
Stephanie (aka WW)
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(5++ stars)
This book lives up to its billing as the best graphic novel ever to be published. I can’t believe I haven’t come across it until now (it was published in 2003), but the wait allowed time for the book to be published in paperback, which I much prefer to hardback. It’s a brick of a work (380 pages) with an incredible amount of drawings on each page. The style of drawing is relatively simplistic, but what Chris Ware manages to communicate through his simple art is incredible. I found mys
David Abrams
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read my fair share of graphic novels (though less than I should), and Chris Ware is still the one who touches me deepest. I haven't read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," which has piled up the accolades, but for my money nothing can beat Ware's "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth" for sheer beautiful misery. Published in 2000, one year before our national tragedy, it chronicled the awkward, lonely life of the titular loser who must deal with father issues in the bleak midwinter of his li ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Numbers 14:18
‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation."

This is a devastatingly heart-breaking read.
A book about generations of men in a family who have been abandoned, psychologically abused, neglected, overlooked, forgotten, all with parents who should never have bred. The result is Jimmy, emotionally s
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Wow, definitely 5 stars, no discount for being a ’mere’ graphic novel. I guess I always thought literary fiction is somehow superior to cartoons. Well, there are exceptions to the rule and I’ve just read one.

It’s a a beautifully told and drawn story of Jimmy Corrigan, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The story flows in two narratives - ca 1990 and ca 1890, sometimes also moving into Jimmy’s dreams and streams-of-thought. Excellent, mesmerising artwork and a bitter, weirdly relatabl
i understand why this book is called a masterpiece and it definitely is, especially graphically. but damn... it was incredibly depressing. i really didn't enjoy reading it and idk if i would recommend. maybe if u love art and aren't as susceptible to sheer pathetic loneliness ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics
horribly boring.
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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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