by Chris Ware
The title character in this graphic novel is an emotional cripple, nearly alone and barely able to function in day-to-day life. Although the book skips around in time, the main plot involves Jimmy's reunion with his estranged father. The tone is ironic and bleak: the cards have been stacked against Jimmy from the beginning and he never really has any hope of connecting with another person. Still, he keeps trying and each time he fails even more pathetically than the last.
When I first picked up an issue of Acme Novelty Comics (of which this book collects a number of issues) several years ago, it was immediately apparent that Ware's aesthetic is very different from that of most comics artists: he uses a lot of blank space, architectural drawings, and innovative panel layouts in order to convey different concepts and moods. It's as if he decided to personally push the envelope of the techniques detailed in Understanding Comics. The wonderful colors and incredibly detailed drawings contrast strongly with the dark subject matter. This is another one of those "good graphic novels" that I keep writing about -- I recommend it.
copyright © 2000 John Regehr