Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

This ground-breaking graphic novel (380 pages) was published in September of 2000 by Pantheon. The book takes you to Chicago. David read Jimmy Corrigan and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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Jimmy Corrigan

The Smartest Kid on Earth

Chris Ware

Jimmy Corrigan has been called the ‘greatest graphic novel ever published.’ Who are we go disagree?

The story takes flight when 36-year-old Chicago everyman Jimmy Corrigan is contacted by his estranged father who wants to meet him for the first time. The story is, as you might expect, poignant, difficult, and brutally authentic.

Author Chris Ware lives in Chicago, and his graphic design will transport you directly to the city. The storyline alternaties between the modern city and the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Ware’s version of the White City is crisp and beautiful. But the Chicago of his primary storyline is not the sexy version of fishnet stockings and gin joints. Rather, the scenes take place in the neighborhood drug store, an old person’s home, the hospital — and you will see the textures and smell the singular smells.

What makes this book and this story compelling — and, ultimately, beautiful is Ware’s ability to present flawed characters and to express tragic emotions. With his drawing and design, he creates a world that’s lovely to look at and fun to explore, even as the story that plays out within that world is breaking your heart. It’s challenging and true, and that’s the best of what we can ask of art.

Jimmy Corrigan page
A page from 'Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth'
Jimmy Corrigan page
An awkward diner scene
Jimmy Corrigan page
If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes: A page from the sequence at the Columbian Exposition
Jimmy Corrigan page
A quiet moment at the Columbian Exposition

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If you're looking for a zine about awesome pizza, indie magazines, or a Q&A with your favorite graphic novelist, Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago is your kind of place. Fulfilling all your weird book needs since 1991.
We visit the Windy City for a deep-dive into what makes Chicago different from every other city in America. We discuss books we love that explore Chicago's culture, food, and history of rabble-rousers and heroes.
Ed Needham is the writer and editor behind the amazing book-review magazine Strong Words. Each issue of the magazine blows up our TBR lists, so when Ed took on our challenge, we knew we were going to get the good stuff.

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