The January 2008 issue of The Comics Journal features a long interview with Jeffrey Brown, Chicago-based cartoonist and painter. Brown is best known for his book Clumsy, an extra-ordinary “slice of life” book about the rise and fall of a romantic relationship from Brown’s real life.
I actually wrote about Brown’s work on another blog, Theatreforte. Here’s an excerpt:
A really great example of “ugly” comics is the work of Jeffrey Brown. Brown’s drawings are shaky, scratchy, ill-proportioned … a less-cautious judge might say they’re “bad” drawings. Indeed, they have a bit of a quality of being like something you might find scribbled in a 14-year-old’s school notebook when he’s thinking about the girl who broke his heart. (Click here for a pop-up example.)
In fact, Brown’s writing has exactly that kind of innocent and unpretentious honesty. And the point here is that those “ugly” drawings, in which Brown is obviously not hiding behind a talent for slick art, force you to get much, much closer to Brown’s characters (who, it seems are very, very real). In short, the drawings are as raw as the emotions, so their “ugliness” and roughness in fact adds to the the effectives of Brown’s work.
So, in the midst of this giant Journal interview, Brown drops this quotation:
Another thing that I’m a big fan of is having evidence of the human hand. In Clumsy, I’ve taken it to an extreme degree, but it feeds into the intimacy of it. It’s like looking at something someone may have written, not intending for anyone else to see it.
it does add to that sense that this is something personal. I think it’s something that fits better with the relationship books. Clumsy specifically: The book is titled Clumsy. There’s drawing mistakes, sometimes words are crossed out, and I left that.
Those are a couple of the reasons I love Brown’s work and why I’m really looking forward to Little Things: A Memoir in Slices, which is supposed to come out in April.
Read a rather large excerpt of The Comics Journal interview right here.
Read more of that Theatreforte post about ugly comics right here.