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Brown, Jeffrey – Funny Misshapen Body



Funny Misshapen Body

It’s odd to be saying this after the guy has already put out a half dozen or so graphic novels (and there wasn’t a terrible one in the bunch), but I think he’s finally made his masterpiece.  This shouldn’t be taken in any way as a slam on any of his other projects, as they all have various things to recommend them, but this thing just stands out.  This is, essentially, Jeffrey’s origin story.  It details his growing up, how drawing has been with him every step of the way, and just about everything else you ever wanted to know about the man.  He even has a brief FAQ at the end, answering the only real question I had (why does everything happen out of order?).  The book is divided into chunks, and by the end of it I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t in exact chronological order because I knew that if there was something major left unsaid from a story, he was going to get to it further down the line.  Chunks include (hey, I’d call them chapters if he did) a brief introduction into why he draws, his time as a fat kid (and what got him to start exercising), his introduction to comics (what appeared to be an issue of the X-men, around #190, and how a helpful comic store clerk steered him in the right direction), a devastatingly honest depiction of a major art critique of work (luckily he seemed to have taken away the important thing from this – critics aren’t always right), his stomach pain and learning that it was Crohn’s disease (and his painfully embarrassing depiction of everything involved with surgery and a protracted hospital stay), slowly learning to see the value in art history, his early adventures in serious intoxication, his first stab at self publishing, all his years spent working on wooden shoes, his brief journey with pot, poetry readings and hosting drunken parties, getting some direct (and necessary) advice from Chris Ware, stories about an old and crappy apartment, and how he eventually managed to self publish Clumsy.  Whew!  And that’s only scratching the surface of this book, as he paints an absolutely captivating picture of learning through mistakes as he’s growing up and being nudged in the right directions at (more or less) the right times.  It’s a hefty book at 300 pagesish, and if you only pick one of his books to read, I’d start here.  Sure, some are funnier, and some of the books about heartbreak are maybe more universally relatable (unless you’re the one person who’s still with your high school sweetheart), but this is really his masterpiece.  So far, anyway, if we’re lucky he’ll be making these things for years to come.  $16