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The Comics of Chris Ware$
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David M. Ball and Martha B. Kuhlman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734423

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734423.001.0001

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Public and Private Histories in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan

Public and Private Histories in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan

(p.146) Public and Private Histories in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan
The Comics of Chris Ware

Shawn Gilmore

University Press of Mississippi

In his graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware employs narrative content that is shaped by a paratextual framework of prose and images, dubbed “General Instructions” and “Corrigenda,” respectively. This chapter examines how these non-narrative pages inform the novel’s narrative structure and argues that the novel draws a sharp distinction between the realms of public and private history. More specifically, it analyzes the complex juxtaposition of the public history of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the private history of the Corrigan family. The chapter demonstrates how Jimmy Corrigan weaves together a distanced, historical perspective that relies primarily on an iconic mode of representation with a more personal register that reflects Jimmy’s subjectivity. It also comments on the reading method prescribed by “General Instructions” and shows that in this version of comics theory, the reader can synthetically understand the entire meaning of the novel.

Keywords:   comics, Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware, prose, images, non-narrative pages, private history, public history, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago

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