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AEIOUReview - AEIOU
Any Easy Intimacy
by Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Aug 7th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 31)

Any Easy Intimacy is a memoir of a relationship in graphic novel/comic form.  Jeff is an artist in his twenties who works in a video store who meets Sophia, who is about the same age and likes the same sorts of music and films, and romance blossoms.  He has stubble and she has short hair and wears black spectacles.  They are both insecure, although she seems to be lots of emotional troubles.  Brown tells his story by showing short episodes from their relationship, that demonstrate how they open up to each other and then find it difficult to stay together.  For example, in the chapter "The Long Pause Before a First Kiss," Jeff and Sophia lie down on a bed together and just gaze at each other for several frames before they kiss.  They are exuberant and tentative and it's very sweet.  But before too long, one night Sophia tells him, "I just don't believe in my heart of hearts that sex with you isn't another form of self laceration."   Understandably, Jeff lies in bed looking at the ceiling, unable to know how to respond.  They still have some fun together but eventually their relationship falters.

The drawing is in black and white, with two frames per page, one above the other.  Brown's style is crude and even childlike, although after a few pages you get used to it.  The vignettes convey the progress of the relationship powerfully, and you get a strong sense of the emotional bond between Jeff and Sophia.  Her unhappiness and uncertainty are more mysterious, especially since we know very little about her past, although there's a possible allusion to a rape.  It is interesting to compare Brown's work to Adrian Tomine's (Sleepwalk and Summer Blonde); while Tomine's characters are attractive and crisply drawn, Brown's are plain and imperfect, and roughly drawn.  So although Brown's storyline gives a very similar sense of young existential uncertainty and disconnection to Tomine's, his style conveys this in very different ways. 

At first, Brown's work does not give a good first impression: it seems amateurish and self-indulgent; but on reflection, it is distinctive and impressive in its ability to convey the feeling of a mismatched partnering that might have worked if circumstances had been different.  As a memoir, it is amazingly concise in its ability to portray the movement of feeling between two people. 

 

Links:

·        Publisher website: http://www.topshelfcomix.com

·        Author website: http://theholyconsumption.com

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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