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Monday, May 25, 2009

Miniature Sulk. Jeffrey Brown. Top Shelf Productions (2005)


This book is a collection of short, mostly, autobiographical comics that capture a single incident or express a single idea. The art is on the crude side, the home made look of it mixes well with the content. There are no extended stories, all of the pieces are slight, for the most part they are not even anecdotes, they are to insubstantial for that. While I have a strong preference for structured fiction, I do not find the minutiae of stranger's lives inherently interesting this book does have considerable charm.
There is sufficient variety and humour in the the incidents to make it clear that Jeffrey Brown has talent and a considerable degree of craft. The incidents are mostly well shaped and they do not outstay their welcome. There is a two panel strip "My Most Hated Enemy" which captures the idea with wonderful economy and forcefulness. The problem with a lot of the stories or fragments is that they simply do not have enough force in them even at the very short length they get. While a mood or an incident is caught there is a lack of impact due to the fragmentary nature of the incident. They are a bit like really well made jigsaw pieces, rather pointless by themselves and only hinting at the potential of the whole puzzle. The single panel gags are more successful, the compression forces a punchline which are frequently sourly funny. There is considerably more that is good than not in the book, the form itself is the greatest weakness.

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