Jeffrey Brown has been recognized as a masterful chronicler of everyday life in his books, specifically critically-acclaimed graphic memoirs like Clumsy and I Am Going To Be Small. His newest book, Funny Misshapen Body, will only add to his reputation as a great memoirist and cartoonist.
Rather than focus on relationships or humorous fiction like in his previous works, Brown turns the camera solely on himself in his newest work. Funny Misshapen Body mainly details the author’s development as an artist, although his adolescent drugging and drinking, his college experiences, and his ongoing battle with Crohn’s disease are also points of focus. Written as short chapters of only a half-dozen to a dozen pages each, the stories of Brown’s adolescence range from sad to funny to incredibly touching. The one common factor among all of them is the unflinching and unglamorous honesty with which Jeffrey looks at his life. All of the stories just seem real, and this is where Brown’s charm comes through. Reading the stories, I never got the impression that they were changed for dramatic effect or to make the characters seem “cool,” and ugly moments are included with the happy ones.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of Brown’s sketchy, sparse style to begin with, it quickly grew on me. In fact, by the end of the book I was blown away by how much of a story he was able to tell with so few lines. In his cartooning, Jeffrey plays with perspective, “camera” angle and proportion with great success. The majority of the book is drawn as 6-panel grids, which makes the few changes in panel shape or size much more striking. USA Today’s Pop Candy has a few preview pages, and you can see for yourself how much Brown does with such an raw drawing style.
If you’re a fan of “everyman” memoirs or autobiographical OGNs, you owe it to yourself to give Funny Misshapen Body a look. The book is a fascinating look at how one of the medium’s most original writer and artists developed into the creator he is today, both personally and professionally.
Funny Misshapen Body, by Jeffrey Brown – 16.00 – Paperback – ISBN 978-1-4165-4947-5 – Touchstone