Jimmy Corrigan: the smartest kind on earth

There are moments – indeed days, weeks, or even years on end – in some people’s lives where there is a palpable sense that all activity is valueless. Perhaps waking up one hopeful, sunny morning, we feel that innocent child within us reanimate, a feeling only to be shortly dispelled by the masked lie of adulthood staring back at us in the bathroom mirror. Or perhaps someone has just let us know that we were not, after all, the life companion that they thought we were, and asked that we please not visit, or telephone, or share their sheets anymore, and that we also please, at the earliest possible opportunity, stop by to claim our remaining personal belongings. Or perhaps the grandparent for whom we always felt the purest degree of love, who showed us that life could be made tolerable and sort of joyous simply by saying the right words, or by telling the right story, or by complimenting just the right thing, has fallen into that state of being wherein the least amount of life is left in the body for its maintenance, perhaps even transforming or cruelly inverting that once luminous, generous personality in to a mean, spiteful doppelganger who may not even recognise us. Or perhaps one has simply sat, unclothed, in an easy chair in one’s living room in the middle of the night, and, quite unsuspectingly, been seized by the horrible, growing sense of all that has led up to this one point their life, the hopefulness of their childhood, the friends lost, the trysts unrealized, the hearts broken, and has cried out to whoever might listen for an end to it all, a solution, a termination of the program before it goes even one minute further.

In such times, and many others left undescribed, many of us may seek out some form of pageantry to provide distraction, or solace. We might visit the corner cinema, or turn on the moving picture box, or eat a cake, in hopes of finding that will either tickle us, or, more preferably, and much more rarely, provide some sympathetic resonance with our personal situation, either via particular, or by general philosophic principle. In all cases, the success of such a venture is predicate primarily upon the quality of the skit, sitcom, or dainty consumed, and whether or not its author are empathetic to this business of life, or mere profiteers form it. In the latter case, it is likely that the main fabric of experience may be indefinitely a fundamental intention of the author to distract, or amuse; the former, a desire by the author to make everybody else feel as bad he does. As such, the thinking person should have to conclude that, in general, the seeking of emotional empathy in art is essentially a fool-hardy pursuit, better left to the intellectually weak, or the ugly, for they have nothing else with which  to occupy themselves. Besides, it is unsightly to feel sorry for oneself, and such “unfortunate times”  eventually pass, anyway, and if they don’t, then mercifully, for the rest of us at least, suicide is, of course, an option.

Most of the purchaser of this book, however, are likely sexually confident, attractive go-getters for whom grief is merely an abstraction, or, at worst, an annoyance treatable by expensive medication. Hence, they are hoping to find something which will briefly titillate or amuse them, fashionably enhance their “look”, or add to their “newness”, and they have certainly made the right choice, for the comic strip medium which it employ holds no hope of ever expressing anything but the meanest and most shallow of sentiments. Indeed, the book need not to be read at all, but simply placed on display as a symbol of one’s youthful exuberance, like a flashy motorcar, or the music of the American South, performed by an aristocrat.

Chris Ware


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