Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Funny Misshapen Body: A Memoir by Jeffrey Brown Review

I've known about Jeffrey Brown's comics for a while now and while I've read his more recent stuff like the Cat books and the excellent Star Wars stuff, I stayed away from his autobio comics for some reason - I suppose reading about failed relationships isn't really my thing. But I decided to pick up Funny, Misshapen Body as it was about other things in Brown's life. It's a memoir about his childhood, Crohn's disease, about his job working in a crafts store, about university life and the associated drink and drugs, going to art school, and getting into comics.

Each of these aspects are done episodically with some being more interesting than others but all of them being very solid, entertaining stories. Reading about his difficult childhood after being diagnosed with Crohn's - an incurable, inflammatory bowel disease - was pretty funny at first as he was unable to control his farting at inappropriate times, but it got so bad he need hospitalisation and an operation. It's a quietly moving episode made all the more poignant in the way the very young Brown tries to be upbeat and jokey despite obviously being in a lot of pain.

I really enjoyed reading about his experiences at art school as his interests moved away from painting and poetry and slowly shifted to comics. Brown tells us his comics history, going to the comics shop as a kid with his brother and receiving indie titles from the store owner as presents once a year in lieu of the Marvel superheroes he constantly read. One of these authors - Yoshihiro Tatsumi - would influence Brown in this book as each story begins with a page-length illustrated title page in the style of Tatsumi.

(And as a side note, if you've never heard of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the man is an extraordinary artist every comics fan should read. I mean it, if you've never read anything by him, seek him out immediately - his books are AMAZING. I'll recommend his incredible autobiography A Drifting Life as the best but Tatsumi has never drawn/written a bad book so anything by him is worth reading)

Funny Misshapen Body is a consistently amusing, wry, and delightful selection of comics that's a highly enjoyable reading experience.

Funny Misshapen Body: A Memoir

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