By Ken Tucker
September 22, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth


Popular Culture — Something Chris Ware, a cartoonist still in his 30s, has little use for — would dismiss Jimmy Corrigan (lumpy, lazy, lonely, easily confused) as a ”loser.” Ostensibly the story of Jimmy trying to make contact with the father who abandoned him years before, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth shifts back and forth in time, showing how generations of Corrigans’ selfish, stunted behavior has affected Jimmy, whose only happiness occurs in his dreams, where he’s ”the smartest kid on earth.” In Ware’s 380-page graphic novella, studded with small, precise panels that regularly expand to reveal stunning draftsmanship, Jimmy’s inability to interact with the world makes for a humorous tragedy more worthy of comparison to Ivan Goncharov’s novel Oblomov (about a man who cannot find a reason to get out of bed: the 19th-century Jimmy) than to anything in the comics genre. Some will find Jimmy Corrigan slow and depressing; they will be wrong. It is thrilling, moving, profoundly sympathetic — and it is the most beautiful-looking book of the year. A+

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

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