Part of me doesn’t want to spoil it for the uninitiated, but Jeffrey Brown’s most touching comics are those that speak to readers on a personal level. The 10th anniversary of his collaboration with James Kochalka, colloquially named Conversations #2, is just around the corner in October.
This is the last of its kind and it’s a pretty rare find to see it propped up next to the register at Big Brain Comics in the major metropolitan area of Northeast Minneapolis. I picked it up and my friend Anthony and I quickly read through the tiny tome before leaving the store with Saga and Couscous Express, but I went back a day later and nabbed the little guy, because I had to reread it.
Conversations exhibits a stream of consciousness unlike anything you’ll find in graphic novels these days, aside from maybe Unwritten, which I own and have not yet read. I would classify it as postmodern, if I were to critique Brown’s genre, but this is more of an ode to his work rather than a review–just so we’re clear.
His previous work Clumsy, chronicles the intimate moments in his relationship with Theresa in excruciating detail, documenting every awkward phone conversation and all the salacious goings on that come with becoming so comfortable with another person, that he almost forgot how to live without her.
In this book, readers are reminded of how writers can seem like other human beings with real thoughts and feelings. I don’t have anything against Marvel or DC, but Brown’s books have a tendency to drag out the misshapen thoughts once shoved down and hidden away; he sets them free on the page.
Right from the start of Conversations, you’re thinking, “What’s the story? Where are the heroes and costumes and all that jazz?” and with Kochalka’s help, Brown shows his inner subconscious thoughts embodied in a big-eared wisp of a creature who helps him overcome his fear of inadequacy as he deals with writer’s block.
I warn you, it’s a short comic, untainted by the commercialized attention another sets of his books received (for instance, his Darth Vader series) and it’s quite a gem. It’s an unabashed self-reflection and a little nugget of insight into the impetus that ultimately spirals out of control and leaves most artists crippled with self-doubt. Every artist goes through this, but they rarely share it with their audience.
With Conversations #2, Brown breaks barriers and invites readers into his creative process.
After reading Clumsy, then I’m Going to Be Small, I recognized something in him that really resonated with me and it’s that he’s not afraid to be gross, morose and disturbing. He just tells it like it is. If he sees an image of a dinosaur asking another dinosaur if she wants to shag, then he’ll share it with the world. His brand of wild intensity and passion for his craft is what makes him stand out among other indie comic book artists and I gravitate towards that.
So, go check out what’s he’s up to nowadays. I’ll add another warning for you here, his blog hasn’t seen an update since circa Dec. 2014, so why not try to ask your local retailer if there’s any news of Jeffrey Brown in the pipeline. Let me know if you hear anything, because I could definitely use another dose of reality via scrawling speech bubbles and squiggly cartoons, if it pleases you.