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Sunday, February 8, 2009

This Week in the Book Section

Posted by on Sun, Feb 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM

This week in the book section, I explore autobiographical comics and find that it's still all about who can be more embarrassingly honest:

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Autobiographical comics haven't really progressed as an art form since the early-'90s heyday of Joe Matt, Chester Brown, and Seth. Everything produced since looks just like work produced by one of the three: overly confessional (we don't really need to know about your masturbation habits unless it's truly essential to the story), undramatic, and painstakingly thorough.

David Heatley's My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down is more of the same, but Heatley counts on "more" being the important word. The book is bigger in size than his autobiographical predecessors, and his noodly sketchbook artwork enables Heatley to cram in more panels per page than even Matt's claustrophobic layouts. And he's even more confessional: On one page, Heatley receives three blowjobs, three handjobs, and has sex twice, once ejaculating on his partner's ass. In another story, he literally lists every black person he's ever known, with embarrassing high-school yearbook—style personal notes reserved for special black people in his life:

Shout out to Winton! You were the most original, spontaneous, and inspiring person in the school, if not the whole town. I loved your drawings, clothes, glassy eyes, and stoned smile. You knew you were an artist before any of the rest of us knew we were. MUCH RESPECT!

There's another autobiographical cartoonist who's even worse, but I do find one or two good ones. You should read the whole thing.

 

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