Saturday, September 27, 2008

Something I Hadn't Noticed in Jimmy Corrigan (Until This Week)

This has to be another light post. I still haven't read everything from my last Swansea find (which was back in July!), so I can only present another trivium that has surfaced from my comics-reading this week.

I have been retooling that paper on Chris Ware's diagrams from last year's MLA, for a collection of essays that should be forthcoming from University Press of Mississippi. As I was writing about the last diagram in Jimmy Corrigan—the one that reveals Amy's ancestry, and shows that she's actually a close blood relation to all of the Corrigan men in the book—I noticed something about the diagram that I hadn't seen before. (This surprises me, because I've taught the book several times, and I'd already written about this diagram once.)

You'll remember, probably, the diagram I'm talking about. Toward the end of it it, it looks like this:

That little girl is the half-sister of James Corrigan, the little boy in the nineteenth-century parts of the book and the shriveled old "Granpa" in the twentieth-century parts of the book.

Those panels are all set against a background that shows the William Corrigan house in the foreground.

What I had never noticed is the tiny figure in the background of that background, under this last diagram panel with the little girl. Here's the last image in the diagram's "chain" again.

... and if you look really closely...

Not only is Amy related by blood to her adopted father and grandfather, but her great-grandmother grew up just a few hundred yards away from young James, or so it seems. I've always argued that this diagram is in the book to heighten our sense of the sadness of the failed connection between Jimmy and Amy; I hadn't really taken into account the way that it also adds sadness to the story of little James. (As if that story needed more sadness.)

That's it for now. Stay tuned for an announcement about this year's SPX.

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