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Look Inside. The bulk of the work is supported by fold-out instructions, an index, paper cut-outs, and a brief apology, all of which concrete to form a rich portrait of a man stunted by a paralyzing fear of being disliked.
Ware captures landscapes made to flatten emotion—a clinic shrouded in snow, a sterile apartment complex—and yet shows the reader the meaning and even beauty in every glimpse from a highway, every snippet of small talk. But the real joy is his art. In terms of attention to detail, graceful use of color, and overall design—Ware has no peer. And while each panel is relentlessly polished—never an errant line or lazily rendered image—his drawings, somehow, remain delicate and achingly lyrical.
They were all in a line on a shelf in the basement, and I read every one of them, over and over again. Those characters felt real to me. Tucked away farther back in the basement was a stack of comic books leftover from my older cousins.
I guess those may have been the first ones I ever read. I suppose I was just too much into wish-fulfillment at the time, because I was a skinny geek. There seem to be two different kinds of male comics readers — the ones who read Harvey comics and those who read superhero comics.
Unfortunately, I came from the wrong background. Q: How did you develop your drawing skill? Taking these shapes and making our Secret City! I love it, and dutifully kept a notebook just like he told me to. And then, of course, I copied from comic books.
Q: So you cheated. Q: When you were at the University of Texas in Austin, your first strips were published.
You did both a daily and a weekly strip. Were you doing them simultaneously or did you move from one to the other? A: I was basically shifting back and forth. I started out doing a weekly, and then I went to doing a daily. And then I went back to doing a weekly. There may have been times when I did a weekly here and there while I was doing the daily, but I never could do them simultaneously.
Q: Committing yourself to doing a strip for publication is a lot different than doing your own little strips at home. What gave you the impetus to make that leap? A: It was essentially just dumb luck. I had taken some commercial art classes in Texas in high school my last three semesters.
I just sort of assumed it was advertising art, or illustration or that sort of thing, which was not unrelated in my mind to comics. Q: In your second year in college, Art Spiegelman called you. Had you, by the first or second year of college, seen RAW or other contemporary work? A: Yes, it was just a matter of getting tired of the adolescent science fiction stuff and moving to things that seemed a little more interesting or sympathetic or weird.
And RAW was definitely one of those things that I specifically remember being weird. Maus was about something even I could handle as being serious. I even remember starting on a series of pamphlets in Maus format when I was 17; it had fired me up so much. I had already had my heart stomped a couple of times and I realized that art could provide more than just cool drawings and spaceships.
RAW was the first comic book that I read that followed through on that idea completely, in both the images and the writing. I remember being really emotionally affected by RAW magazine, once I finally actually started looking at it.
Q: You did two strips for RAW. One of the strips was done specifically for RAW and one was adapted from a strip you did for the Texan. I did. Of course, I was blown away that he would have called me or that he would consider calling someone of my age and obvious lack of ability.
Then he asked me to contribute to RAW. Of course, I was terrified. I had months to do the strip but I kept putting it off, and putting it off.
I think I ruined the strip. I overthought it. The drawing looks like a bad editorial cartoon or something. Q: What distinction do you make between real drawing and cartooning? A: I think drawing is about — or at least good drawing is about — trying to see. Does that make sense at all?
That page anticipates the three pictures at the bottom of each strip. This is an incredibly detailed history of four generations of the Corrigan family. Why is this? A: It is a sort of cheap answer to a problem that I think is somewhat real for comics. Your spot in space is clear, but always outside of the frame, and your sense of empathy is dissolute, which, of course, can be a strength.
Adults lie with their faces. The comic strip language is not sophisticated enough yet to deal with that fact. There may be some connection in children, but not in adults. Depending on the social context, adults usually adopt expressions to suit their environment. Does that make any sense at all? Were there any writers that influenced you, comics writers or prose writers? Observation, I guess.
But keep plugging away. I could sit for hours and listen to her talk, something which I did as much as I could for the last few years of her life. A: Oh definitely. Now, when you conceive of a story, do you think of it in visual terms or in verbal terms? I tend to think of it in all sorts of different ways. I guess more visually. I guess images flash into my mind, they might get transferred into words.
This is all hideously embarrassing. I mean, any real writer that might happen to read this is just going to be disgusted! The following pages are excerpted from Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Daddy, I hardly knew you
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? 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 's Chicago and 's small town Michigan, the reader is helped along by thousands of colored illustrations and diagrams, which, when read rapidly in sequence, provide a convincing illusion of life and movement. The bulk of the work is supported by fold-out instructions, an index, paper cut-outs, and a brief apology, all of which concrete to form a rich portrait of a man stunted by a paralyzing fear of being disliked. Read more Read less.
Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid On Earth
What kind of man walks out on his own child? It's a question that nags away at the deserted kid. Was Dad really an out-and-out shit? Perhaps he just wasn't ready for responsibility. Perhaps Mum drove him away.