Friday, July 22, 2011

What kind of man walks out on his own child? Weak? Unhappy? Heartless? 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. Perhaps he thought everyone would be better off without him. Perhaps... Chris Ware knew the question, but only part of the answer. His father disappeared for 30 years, blipped back into his life with a few phone calls and one uneasy dinner, then stood him up at what would have been their second meeting. Before he could get in touch again - assuming that was even in his mind - he died of a heart attack. As Ware notes here in his postscript, the four or five hours the book takes to read "is almost exactly the total time I ever spent with my father, either in person or on the phone". The stories are simply drawn, without the gothic shadows and mad clutter of so many graphic novels, but the multiple timelines and digressions twist and slot together to form a structure as complex and improbable as any of Ware's paper toys "for the friendless, the weak of heart and the ignored". A rare and uplifting example of an artistic vision pushed to the limits.

Jimmy Corrigan, the smartest kid on earth (2000)
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