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Mini-Sulk
By Jeffrey Brown
Published by Top Shelf Productions; $8.00

This small volume contains plenty of Brown's engaging, observational strips. An embarrassing tickling incident here, a room-destroying teenage tantrum there, Brown focuses in Mini-Sulk on tales of his youth, and many of the strips are about his childhood, with a range of emotions from the shame of the tickling vignette to the minor, intoxicating empowerment of an older relative chasing off the neighbourhood bully.

Brown also includes some one-page gags that run the gamut from apt social commentary (an ironic cigarette ad) to perhaps intentional self-parody ("Cute Girls Are Cute! Sigh...").

There's actually more variety in this slim volume than in any other Brown book I've seen to date; the harrowing car-wreck in "I'm useless," felt real to me, less than two weeks after my own such encounter. "Fucking Artists" has the patina of a genuine, observed moment, and the expressive body language in panel two of that strip puts the lie to the idea that Brown's cartooning is primitive or unsophisticated. It may look simple, but Brown is in full control.

"Not everything in here is true," it says in the indicia, but enough of it feels true that Brown's well-earned reputation as one of today's better autobiographical cartoonists is secure. Grade: 4.5/5

-- Alan David Doane



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