Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reader's Diary #500- Chester Brown: The Little Man

Had I begun with Chester Brown's The Little Man: Short Strips 1980-1995 I'd probably not bothered looking further into his work. As it happens, my first Brown exposure was with Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography. That book was genius.

The Short Man is not genius but it certainly shows the history of one. On the back, X writes that The Little Man traces the growth of... but I still think the leap to Louis Riel is over a wide gap. The Little Man shows an artist experimenting with different styles and a writer who takes on just about any subject.

It is the writer piece that is sorely lacking. Experimentation is fine but there's a sense that he moved on without ever getting the kinks worked out of the earlier attempts. Whimsy is forced, plots too often go nowhere (if ever present to start), and if Seth is accused of navel gazing for It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken, Chester Brown practically wears a belly-button-lint coat.

And I don't mean to be a prude, but why do all these alternative comic artists insist on drawing themselves in the nude? Really, how is this any different than flashing your neighbours?

Still I appreciate that he was always looking for a different angle, a different technique, a different story. Without all this experimentation, I doubt he ever would have tried the biography.

I'd also recommend reading the notes about each piece at the end. If nothing else it provides a lot of insight into the world of alternative comic writers-- and I doubt too many of us have much knowledge of that scene.

Thanks to Remi for sending this book my way!


Carrie K said...

Somehow this doesnt' sound like something I'll be picking up soon.

32 is practically 20. Scary how fast it all goes, no?

Remi said...

You make it sound like flashing your neighbours is a bad thing. I figure, one or two well timed towel slips and your neighbours will never bug you again. Fortunately, I've never had neighbours that I've been that intent on repelling.