Monday, October 27, 2014

Instructions on the Everyman- Jimmy Corrigan

            Almost everything that was read to date, has just been done intuitively, unless it’s a complex language that needs deciphering. Jimmy Corrigan is the latter. At first glance, while flipping through the pages it appears that the comic would just be a straight forward read. However, often there are panels that go in different order, or frames that get flipped and all this adds to how one can piece together the main character’s, Jimmy Corrigan, life. To try and aid in this piecing together, or understanding of the book, the author added on the front flap a list of instructions. Yet, these instructions are without a doubt not a straight forward list. In fact even the instructions work in a strange order, although still conveniently numbered and boxed off when necessary.
            The instructions, are not so much instructions on how to read the novel. They are more a vehicle of helping you decipher the meaning behind the text and keep a mental note on the themes that Ware is trying to address. Most interestingly is the enforcement of how bleak and sad people can be. The loneliness in the world of an “everyday” average person. In the role section this idea is introduced that people are often sad and will either just move on or commit suicide, but very bluntly by the author. Ware also seems to show disdain for those who seem to be alpha, the people that are usually outgoing and sexually confident, he associates this with the type of people who find the lonely sadness that pervades the average person’s thoughts as an inconvenience.
            It is clear that Ware wants to say something about the average American man, in connection with America, in fact the point that sadness is the average American thought is even yet reinforced in the questionnaire section, where the overwhelming answers to questions seem to reflect that people usually are scared of women, always wanting women, introverts and sad to be grown up wishing they could go back to being children.
            The roles and themes are ever present throughout the comic. The protagonist Jimmy is constantly dreaming of sexual encounters with women that he either barely knows, or that find disgust in him. He seems to associate them with peaches and the peaches were repeated throughout. Moreover, he is portrayed as a pathetic ugly balding man with weight issues, which constantly gets hurt, has an overbearing mother and most of his life an absent father. Corrigan seems to be the every man, in the mind of Ware. On top of this, all of Jimmy’s wacky dreams seem to be his attempt to get away from reality and back to childhood, where he can somehow rewrite his life in some way to become a better person. In fact, in the scene where Jimmy is at the hospital with his father after being hit by the truck, the doctor seems to treat Jimmy much like a child. This was an interesting scene, because it is apparent that Jimmy is surely a man at this point. It may be Ware distinguishing the average from the important, as a doctor will look down upon ‘ugly’ average people such as Jimmy.
            Ware often confuses and muddles the stories together, however, in the end he expects you to understand it in his way, or else there will be a problem. The instruction have a section labeled, “Technical Explanation of the Language, Developing Skills”. This shows an image of a cat’s head with a mouse holding a hammer, then another with that cat stuck with the hammer. There are several questions following, that if not answered “correctly” requires one to stop and fill out the questionnaire that as explained above reinforces the theme of the book of the everyman. This indicates that while reading Jimmy Corrigan one needs to think and understand it in Ward’s way, otherwise it is being read incorrectly and should be done again.
            Jimmy is just a sad, unsuccessful and lonely middle aged man who lives with a mother that demands all his attention and compliance, and a father that was absent from his life. Jimmy works in a cubicle and wishes for any women’s peach that he can get, though it is impossible for him to socialize with them. All of this is apparent in the picture and text, which is deliberate by Ward. His instructions do their job to reinforce all of this as the main theme that is obvious to most readers. It is clear however, that there is a connection between images, not just as they appear at that time, yet that they happen as a fluid motion. The dreams and past life of his grandfather all show how Jimmy’s life is run by the absent father and wish to stay forever a child, while also living with a  sexual mind always in action.

1 comment:

  1. The first couple paragraphs aren’t as straightforward as they should be. However, your central point is good, and I basically agree: the general instructions (at least the written part) are more of a guide to the thematic material of the book, rather than helping us with the really hard parts - where maybe we wouldn’t mind some help!

    One messy aspect of the book is the simultaneous attacks on both alpha and beta males. I’d like to see a more coherent argument re: what you think Ware is up to here. Obviously you understand what he’s doing - but do you have thoughts on why he does it?

    I think you zero in on a good example of the themes which interest you: “This was an interesting scene, because it is apparent that Jimmy is surely a man at this point. It may be Ware distinguishing the average from the important, as a doctor will look down upon ‘ugly’ average people such as Jimmy.” Although I must also ask if you really dug that far into the portrayal of the doctor (see his own appearance, his absent daughter, etc.).

    The last couple paragraphs fall apart, because although you’ve been on the brink (I think) of developing a clearer argument, you stop making any progress at the end. What you needed was to pin down more clearly what Ware is up to by closer attention to the details, but instead you turn back to generalization.

    For instance, one thing that you don’t do is ask something like this: if loneliness, emptiness and impotence are such major parts of Ware’s concerns, how do we understand the stylized brutality of many of his most streamlined, symbolic moments (the cat being crushed by the hammer)? Is this a representation of a violence inside Jimmy, for instance? I think the stylized violence which has caught your attention might be a kind of key for helping you form a more articulate argument about Ware’s ideas about both alpha and beta men.