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October 26, 2013

Weekend Reviews: Graphic novel a perfect glimpse of 'Little Things'

Most everyone who loves to write also loves to read, and I’m no exception. I can spend days doing nothing but devouring a novel. I’ll frequently become infatuated with a book and feel like I physically cannot put it down until I’ve read it cover to cover. I think that’s fairly common for writers: obsessing over books and the written word in general. 

However, over the past couple years I’ve developed a taste for a different type of novel that doesn’t seem to be quite as popular among writers. Nevertheless, I love ‘em.

I started getting into graphic novels around two years ago; coincidentally, about the same time I realized that there were comics out there besides “Spiderman” and “The Incredible Hulk.” I had just discovered a new blog, Hanging Rock Comics. The site was run by a 17-year-old girl from Indiana who expressed her angst and yearning desire for freedom through messy, poorly scanned doodles. I was entranced by her laid-back drawing style, and how honestly she expressed her opinions about her peers and high-school experience. Finding her blog opened the door to a whole new genre of books and websites whose existence I was previously oblivious to: autobiographical comics.

And this brings us to what I’m really here to talk about — one of my favorite graphic novels: “Little Things: A Memoir In Slices” by Jeffrey Brown. Although he seems to be known primarily for his triad of comics depicting the ups and downs of three failed relationships, I think there’s something to be said for the subtle approach and poignancy of “Little Things.”

The drawings are in Brown’s familiar six-panel style: two columns, three rows, and sketched in exclusively black pen and ink. I love his drawing style because it’s so easy-going and loose; none of the panels are entirely perfect, but it’s evident how much effort was put into the composition. The imperfections give the book a homemade vibe, which makes the comics feel more personal and emotional. Each character appears extremely expressive, and the detail put into the background and shading of each comic is extensive.

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