Muybridge and The Smartest Kid on Earth

Now here’s something I missed a long time ago, and shouldn’t have. A graphic novel representation of Muybridge and his Zoopraxographical Hall at the 1893 World’s Fair, in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a graphic novel  written and illustrated by Chris Ware. (Pantheon Books 2000)

Wikipedia tell us: “The story was previously serialized in the pages of Ware’s comic book Acme Novelty Library, between 1995 and 2000 and previous to that, in the alternative Chicago weekly New City.

Plot summary
Jimmy Corrigan is a meek, lonely middle aged man who meets his father for the first time in a Michigan town over Thanksgiving weekend. Jimmy is an awkward and cheerless character with an overbearing mother and a very limited social life. Jimmy attempts to escape his unhappiness via an active imagination that gets him into awkward situations. A parallel story set in the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 shows Jimmy’s grandfather as a lonely little boy and his difficult relationship with an abusive father, Jimmy’s great grandfather. Another storyline shows Jimmy as a lonesome child of divorce, suggesting that this was Jimmy’s “real” childhood, while his “Smartest Kid on Earth” adventures are probably his fantasies.”

I have a sheaf of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library comics still lying in a plan chest here, collected in the late 90s when I still maintained some knowledge of what was going on in the worlds of comics. I was very keen on Jimmy Corrigan, but certainly didn’t see the Muybridge pages.

One of the Jimmy Corrigan ‘Acme Novelty’ books

Another web site tells us: “Chris Ware was born in 1967 and his hugely popular Jimmy Corrigan was awarded The Guardian First Book Award in 2001. Although it originally appeared as a syndicated newspaper strip in London from 1993 to 1999, US author and artist Ware conceived it, from the outset, as a lengthy narrative.

The work, published by Jonathan Cape, combines innovative comic book art, hand lettering and graphic design to tell the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a boy with the face of a disappointed old man, and his relationship with his absent father.

Ware has stated that he drew inspiration from ‘original advertising drawings done for a depression-era Chicago cosmetics firm where all the typography was hand-done with a brush and white ink.’”

Chris Ware’s comics have included a cutout peepshow, zoetrope, flip book, and mutoscope.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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