Posted in comics

Jeffrey Brown: indie comic making

I recently re-watched a short documentary called ‘Drawing Between the Lines’ by Bruce Parsons.  It’s about Jeffrey Brown – a comic book writer that I have been following for many, many years.

I haven’t watched the documentary for a few years.  I remember buying it in my great, Jeffrey-Brown-furore.  I couldn’t get enough of his work.  And I still think his comic books are wonderful.

I bought Unlikely first.

Image result for unlikely be jeffrey brown

I was about to get a coach to… somewhere… I really can’t remember where.  Anyway, I called into Travelling Man in Leeds and I found Unlikely in the indie section.  I am a fan of indie work.  I bought it and read it on the coach.  Then I read it again.  And again.

It is just… honest.  Honest in the sense of stories.  You know, trying to get to something of the truth of human experience.  That’s a bit different from being completely truthful, which is to recount everything exactly.  Stories are about getting to the heart of truth.  And that’s what Jeffrey Brown manages to do.

I tend to think that with biographical books like his, it’s the vulnerability that really pulls me in.  Structure and well paced work is key – of course it is.  But the heart of it is vulnerability.  And, if we’re honest, it’s really hard to be genuinely vulnerable.  It’s hard to do that with those closest to us.  But if we are vulnerable as artists, I think the reader/viewer/player rewards us by drawing closer to what we have to say.  Vulnerability resonates.  Perhaps because many of us feel quite vulnerable much of the time.  And when you realise that other people feel that way too, you are flooded with relief.  You are not alone.  You don’t have to pretend the way you did at school.  Or the way you feel you have to at work.  You are not alone.

That’s what I really love about independent comics.  They give their creators space to connect more deeply.  Mainstream stuff has lots to offer – no doubt – but, for me, the indie stuff is where it’s at.

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I lecture in creative writing, games and education. I write. I make the odd game. I work with the odd school to make learning more like playing a game...

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