Hmm. It always irritates me when I find old blogs that just stop, so with that in mind, I probably should have mentioned at some point in the two years since the last post, but I have long since put this project on indefinite hiatus. Partly, it’s because I covered all the material I originally intended to (and Sulk, which I was waiting for, was horribly late) and partly, it’s because only about 12 people ever read it. 12 people with excellent taste and judgement, but 12 people nonetheless.

In case you’re wondering, in the intervening years, I have continued to review comics for CBR, and co-write a comics blog called Comics Daily. If you only care about Jeffrey Brown reviews, you can even go straight to the Jeffrey Brown tag and have a poke around.

My personal site, should you be interested for any reason, is at jrhunt.co.uk, where I mainly just post links to things I have done in a professional capacity.

And finally, if you do happen to have this blog on your RSS reader and are seeing the post, why not comment here and let me know? It’d be nice to hear from anyone who might still be out there! Either way, thanks for reading, and maybe I’ll see you back here one day when/if I decide to bring the project up to date. Cheers!

Could it be? Might we actually be getting an update here soon? Well, if the look of Diamond’s shipping list is anything to go by, we might be seeing a new Jeff Brown review here as soon as this week! Spotted on the list for this Wednesday (Thursday in the UK) was Brown’s new release:

AUG084323 SULK GN VOL 01 BIGHEAD & FRIENDS (MR) $7.00

It’s not a dead cert – Amazon still thinks the book won’t be out for another month yet – but if we’re luckly, you can check back here in 7 days and I’ll have a review of it up!

While you’re all waiting for me to do some more updates here (there’s still some stuff coming, I swear) why not check out this interview that a noted Transformers site, Seibertron.com, did with Jeffrey Brown in which they talk about future Incredible Change-Bots comics, the Change-Bots toys from Devil’s Due, and the rest of his upcoming work!

10 Questions With Jeffrey Brown

For those that don’t know (and I’m assuming it’s a lot of you) I’m now a staff-reviewer at CBR. I recently posted my review of Jeff Brown’s latest release, Little Things: A Memoir in Slices in the CBR reviews section. Still, a couple of weeks have passed, so I’m now reposting it here – excuse the fact that it might be slightly condescending at times – after all, the original was for a wider audience, not just the Jeff Brown fans!


Jeffrey Brown epitomizes all that is good and bad about a certain kind of indie comic. If you ever hear people criticizing the black-and-white navel-gazing autobiographical emo-indie comic about boys who can’t get girlfriends, then they’re talking about Jeffrey Brown. If you hear people praising the insightful, witty, emotionally-open alternative to spandex and testosterone-filled mainstream comics, then they’re also talking about Jeffrey Brown. You may even already known which side of the fence you fall on, so let me warn you — if it’s the former, move along now. You’re not going to find anything you like here.

If, on the other hand, you’re a Jeffrey Brown fan, well good news! You’re going to be pleased! “Little Things” is simply more of the same, though I mean that in a wholly positive way. While packaged in a format much closer to Brown’s autobiographical Girlfriend Trilogy books, “Little Things” also shares much in common with his minicomic collections, like 2005’s “Minisulk” — the contents are occasionally lifted from existing self-published works, though given the limited print run they will have received, it might as well be all-new.

The book sees Brown dispensing with the comedy/parody interludes that permeated his more recent publications — presumably, these things are being saved for the release of his new quarterly anthology, “Sulk”, later this year — and concentrating again on autobiographical short stories. Given that this is the first time Brown has taken his autobiography to a mass-market publisher, it makes sense to present a more straight-up work. After all, a mass-market publisher will hopefully translate to mass-market readers, who will have different expectations to his regular comics audience.

As such, the story ploughs through various events in Brown’s life as experienced over the course of the last few years. They are presented in Brown’s now-traditional non-chronological order in a way that invites the reader to draw parallels between the stories themselves. Recurrent motifs include car crashes and medical problems, and very specific references to the music accompanying certain events or frames of mind. That said, one of the longer chapters, “Missing the Mountains” is atypical of Brown’s work, if only because it occasionally pauses to capture the visual moments in the relative vista of a single-panel splash page — it represents a welcome departure from the norm, to see Brown’s artistic side being unveiled.

As ever, Brown’s main talent is in insightfully capturing the emotional essence of a moment, be it funny or sad, or angry, or calm, and then using his superficially crude drawings to evoke it on the page. The expressive art style Brown uses makes his world both relatable and accessible to all readers. That’s always been the case, of course, but it never hurts to explain his charm.

It’s not for everyone, admittedly. Some people simply won’t get the appeal, which is a fair enough matter of taste. Fans will, not unexpectedly, get exactly what they wanted. If you’ve never read Brown’s work and are anxious to go for something a little less graphic and emotionally brutal than his Girlfriend Trilogy, then you’re in luck — this is as good a place to start as any.


Buy Little Things from Amazon (US)
Buy Little Things from Amazon (UK)

Feeble Attempts is a 48-page collection of Jeffrey Brown’s short comics – something of a “pilot” for his forthcoming series, which is expected to be launched under the title of “Sulk” some time this year.

When it originally came out in May ’07, I was incredibly pleased that it was bringing together a lot of material from many disparate sources. I’d read a couple of the strips online, and one or two I’d found in other comics, but as I’ve said before, being a die-hard, completist Jeffrey Brown fan can be incredibly hard work, trying to track down all the curios, so comprehensive collections like this are exactly what I’m into. They showcase all of his styles, bringing together comedy, autiobiography, and even superheroics all under one title. The topic of religion even gets a look in which is something he rarely tackles so openly.

Even now, it remains one of my favourite releases of his, simply because there’s so much in there. 48 pages from Brown means a LOT of work, since most of the pages contain a number of panels that’s well into double figures, crammed with dialogue, if not necessarily action. It’s really packed in there too – the inside covers have glorious, full-colour comics printed on them. There’s nary an inch of free space in the entire volume, and for $5 it’s incredibly well-priced. You could pay 5 times that for an anthology of similar quality.

The longest story is a reprint of the Bighead piece which can be found in Project: Superior, though not the Bighead anthology, and that alone is worth what you’ll pay for it just to see more of Brown’s take on Superheroics, with his art being taken to a rarely-seen level.

It’s hard to know what sort of beast Feeble Attempts is. Certainly, I’d give it to someone who wanted to get into Brown’s work because it’s got it all in there, it’s like a Jeffrey Brown sampler – but I’m finding it hard to think of a situation where someone would want to get into his work without already knowing what they like about it, so I dunno. All I can say is that there’s no excuse for a Jeffrey Brown fan not to own a copy.

feebleattempts_cover.jpg
Buy Feeble Attempts from Top Shelf (Intl.)
Feeble Attempts Preview pages from Top Shelf

Given the popularity of Lolcats, it seems like Jeffrey knew he was into a fairly safe bet with the release of his observational cat-based humour book, Cat Getting Out of a Bag, which predates the lolcat explosion by several months.

The book mostly comprises 9-panel comics shorts – almost a hundred, in fact – depicting the observations Jeff has made about the various cats he has owned. These are broken up by detailed and realistic life-illustrations of cats, though it should be noted that the entire book is monochrome. The bulk of the artwork for the book appears to have been done with brushes, actually, though the comics are noticably in Jeff’s traditional style and it’s mainly the shading and depth that shows hints of a more painted style. It’s an interesting new take on his artwork.

I have to admit – ultimately, this is one for cat owners only. As a Jeff Brown completist, I bought it, but I found it frequently humourless and uninteresting, and the point being made in of many of the strips eluded me entirely. I gave it to my friend who once owned a cat, and he found every page hilarious. So that probably explains it. I’m not an animal lover, the behaviour of cats doesn’t amuse me, and therefore the book wasn’t really aimed at me – it’s no wonder I didn’t really enjoy it.

Still, I can’t fault the package – it’s a hardback with a nice fabric-covered spine (perfect for claw-sharpening antics, one suspects) and it’d make a really good gift for the kind of people who are REALLY into their cats. You know the kind. It seems well-aimed at the mass market rather than Brown’s usual comic-reading public. It’ll never be essential reading, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it sold better than some of his other work, and indeed it certainly world, if only it could get on the shelves alongside its real contemporaries – things like the Bunny Suicide books – though sadly, I’m not sure people would think to put it there because of Brown’s name being attached to it.

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Buy Cat Getting Out of a Bag from Amazon (US)
Buy Cat Getting Out of a Bag from Amazon (UK)

While Jeff’s earlier work focuses mainly on fragile emotions and how badly screwed up his life can get, it should not be overlooked that he is also one of the greatest comedic voices in the medium. I am going to be Small is really a sequel, of sorts, to Minisulk, as well as being a “special edition” re-release of his original minicomic. This book is utterly crammed with minutae that you would otherwise have one hell of a time finding, from complete reprints of minicomics, to single-frame jokes he drew for Too Much Coffee Man, to advertising posters he has drawn. At the time, I called Minisulk a completist’s dream, but I was wrong- this is.

This book shows that he’s got range, and he’s not afraid to use it. It’s sometimes offbeat, sometimes emotional, sometimes crude, sometimes twisted, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes just enough to make you smirk. The only consistent thing it’s got is that it’s all great. Except for those last 50 pages or so of some tragically crap animal cartoons – A minicomic called “Cuticle” featuring some talking animals and their relationship dramas, but god help me, I think it’s probably the least entertaining thing Brown has ever written.

It’s fair to say that Brown’s more emotionally involved work is his best. However, it’s also plenty accurate to say that it’s worth buying anything he does on the strength of his name alone. I’ve bought entire anthologies just to get a one-page strip by him, and this book allowed me to do a decade of catchup in one sitting. While the last few pages in Small weren’t my favourite, there are an additional 350 to pad out the rest of it. On those pages are well over 500 pieces culled from Brown’s previously unpublished or uncollected work, spanning a 9 year period – with single-panel jokes, text pieces, fake adverts, more conventional comic strips, and god knows what else, you could entertain yourself with this book for an incredibly long time. If you’re the type of person who enjoys reading on the toilet, it’s perfect for it, though you could end up permanently affixed to the crapper while caught up reading just one more joke.

All that said, I’m not sure I’d recommend it as the best way to get into Brown’s work. It’s fairly unrepresentative of his other stuff, most of which is actually much more satisfying in the long run. The previous compilation of his work, Minisulk, is far more about the laughs. If that’s his “Greatest Hits,” this seems more like a B-Sides collection for the hardcore fans. I love it, I encourage everyone to buy it, but it probably shouldn’t be your starting point.


Buy I am going to be Small from Amazon (UK)
Buy I am going to be Small from Amazon (US)

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