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Comics artist Jeffrey Brown on Funny, Misshapen Body

Jeffrey Brown talks about the San Diego Comicon, and his autobiographical comic Funny Misshapen Body, a book recently published by Simon and Schuster…

READERSVOICE.COM: What’s the routine for you when you go to the San Diego Comicon in late July [last July]?

JEFFREY BROWN: I usually sit at the Top Shelf booth signing books most of the time. Every so often I’ll need to get up and take a break, so I’ll wander off from the booth, but then the massive crowd and over stimulation of Comicon will overwhelm me and I’ll retreat back to the booth.

It’s always an exhausting convention, but I always have a good time and it’s always worthwhile.

RV: When did you hook up with Simon and Schuster and what are some of the projects you have lined up with them?

JB: I first met my editor, Amanda Patten, back in 2004, and pitched some books that Touchstone (the S&S imprint I’m with) passed on.

By 2007, I had more work to present and had built enough of a career to sign a two book deal with them.

The second book, Funny Misshapen Body, just came out this spring and right now I don’t have anything specific planned with them. It’s a good time for a break, actually, as the two books that Simon & Schuster put out are the two biggest books I’ve written.

RV: In Funny, Misshapen Body you talk about your fine arts studies and your disillusionment there. I was wondering if you’d heard whether art colleges these days actively promote comics as a medium?

JB: Comics have a much bigger presence in art schools now, definitely.

My friend Jeremy Tinder teaches comics at the SAIC (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) now, and Chicago cartoonist Ivan Brunetti is back teaching comics at Columbia College.

From what I hear, both schools are thinking about expanding their course selections for comics as well, so comics certainly seem to be a more accepted part of curriculum.

RV: Is sex important in art to give it life?

JB: It can be, but I don’t think it’s necessarily… necessary. It was maybe more important when I was younger, but has become less essential as a focus, even if it’s still present within my work.

RV: Where do you live in Chicago and how would you break up your day whether reading, or drawing in a cafe, or driving around?

JB: I live in Lincoln Square now, and most days lately spend the morning at the local coffee shop drawing or emailing, then usually head home to work in the afternoon.

I walk pretty much everywhere I can, so the only times I’m driving are to run errands or take my son somewhere.

I’ll also draw more at night after everyone else goes to bed, too. Having a two and a half year old means there’s lots of interruptions and changes to that routine, both day to day and over time as my son gets older.

RV: When you draw autobiographical stories, do you go back to places to get details of scenery, or do you draw from memory?

JB: I always draw from memory, both for people and places. That’s part of the intent of how my work expresses ideas and feelings, that how we remember can have an effect on what we feel and experience.

RV: What sorts of humorous books or comics or anything else, do you like?

JB: I’ve always enjoyed sketch comedy shows like Monty Python and Kids In The Hall, although it’s hard to keep up not having cable or even watching much TV. I’ve managed to see bits of ‘Human Giant’ and ‘Michael and Michael Have Issues’ which I enjoyed, and also ‘Important Things with Demetri Martin’…

– Funny, Misshapen Body is available from Simon and Schuster.

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