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ClumsyReview - Clumsy
by Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Aug 9th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 32)

While this graphic work is subtitled "A Novel," it is a memoir.  It tells in drawings the story of a relationship between the artist, Jeffrey Brown, and his girlfriend Theresa.  A map at the end of the book gives the timeline of their doomed romance.  They meet at 2 pm, on July 3, 2000, in Michigan, and date until she flies back to Florida, on July 19.  He visits her there in August, and then moves to Chicago.  She visits him in his new place in October, and he visits her for New Year's.  She visits him again in February, and he visits her in March.  They meet in New York for her brother's wedding, and then they break up in June 2001, by phone and email.  They are both in their early 20s, it seems, and they haven't had many serious relationships previously.  The two of them are almost childlike together, which is either charming or revolting, depending on your point of view.  They have a simple openness, where they just say how much they like each other and reassure each other.  For example, in one of their many long distance phone conversations, Jeffrey apologizes to her for bring so weird.  She replies that she likes weird, and he gets a big grin on his face. 

The book is unusual for how much sex it portrays.  It is hardly pornographic, since the drawing is so crude there is very little detail shown, although it does seem clear that he looks better with his clothes on, and looks rather wide around the middle without them.  Brown shows their enthusiasm for each other and the tenderness of their feelings for each other as they become physically close.  He does well in capturing the awkwardness occasionally between them, as well as the way that the fun and romance make the difficult moments bearable. 

The pages have 6 frames each, and so the story is told in more detail than AEIOU (reviewed in Metapsychology August 2005), which portrayed a subsequent relationship, using fewer frames and more telling moments of the relationship.  The drawing is just as crude and amateurish as it was in AEIOU, and while that will put off some readers, it is quite consistent and the hand-made feel goes along with the juvenile feel of the relationship.  It is a striking work, and it is also fun to read, although the small size of each frame makes the writing hard to decipher in some places.

 

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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