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Book Review < Back


Credits: Written and Illustrated by Jeffrey Brown
Publisher: Top Shelf


UNLIKELY is subtitled "How I Lost My Virginity," and that's pretty much all you need to know about the plot of this autobiographical story. Inside a little red book you'll find: Jeffrey Brown, his girlfriend Allisyn, mutual friends, sex, some alcohol, some drugs, and at the end, a break up. Virginity lost, worldly knowledge found. What sets this "How I Lost My Virginity" tale apart is the author's ability to tell a personal story with a balance of raw honesty and gentle charm.

Secure in his status as a Sensitive Guy, Brown believes in romance, art, and getting to know a girl before you sleep with her. At the same time, he refuses to ignore the gracelessness and humiliating moments inherent in personal interactions. These two impulses result in a work that doesn't dull the beauty and pain of relationships by gooping it in nostalgia and sentimentality. From sweet phone conversations that last for hours, to a hurtful statement made in the heat of the moment, everything is here. Including, yes, inelegant bedroom dancing.

The artwork might be described as chicken scratch by some, but it's the most affecting and complex chicken scratch you'll see from anyone this side of five years old. With coarse lines and a loose rendering style, Brown somehow manages to slay with every forlorn glance, giddy smile, lumpy couch, and crooked panel border.

By the end of the book, you'll want to buy Brown a beer, and try to comfort him with some dusty old platitude like, "It's ok man, relationships never end well." Yet you get the feeling that throughout this bittersweet romance, he never once gave up on love. It's as if UNLIKELY is his way of buying you a beer, and saying, "It's cool, they're worth it."

-- Sam Humphries


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