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Comics artist Jeffrey Brown talks about Funny Misshapen Body.

Jeffrey Brown’s latest book, Funny Misshapen Body (Simon and Schuster) is a comic based on his art college years. His comics include Clumsy (2002), the story of a year-long long distance relationship, and Unlikely (or how I lost my virginity), (2003), about Jeff Brown’s first sexual relationship. A sample from Little Things: A Memoir in Slices, called These Things, These Things, was included in the anthology Best American Comics 2007, edited by Chris Ware. He said Jeff Brown worked in an unaffected, diary-like style. Jeff Brown’s work is largely autobiographical, and is packed with visual detail.

READERSVOICE.COM: Your autobiographical comic These Things, These Things, from Little Things, which appeared in Best American Comics 2007, have a lot of detail for such small panels. I was wondering what size the original pictures were.

JEFFREY BROWN: The originals were a bit bigger, although still small – because of the format and space constraints, the story was printed with four pages on each of the Best American Comics pages.

Each original six panel page was drawn about 4″x5″. I usually draw about the size the artwork is printed; I’ve always preferred working small to working big.

RV: Do you just use the one size pen and nothing else when drawing, no pencils even, when you’re doing autobiographical comics, or the Hulk picture you drew for the March of Dimes fundraiser for the Washington Comic Shop, Comic Evolution? If so what size or sizes do you like? And do you use brushes?

JB: I usually draw with a Uniball Deluxe Micro pen, and occasionally use Faber Castell brush pens to fill in blacks, and for coloring.

Although the Hulk drawing was done with a little bit of pe ncilling, the autobiographical work is usually drawn straight in ink.

My pencils are usually pretty rough, and used as a rough guide for composition and spacing. I draw the autobiographical comics without pencils so they’ll have a more sketchy quality, not so planned out and worked over.

RV: What are the things you like about minicomics, and what are some of your favorite mini-comics if you have a collection of them?

JB: The great thing about minicomics is that they’re usually made without the usual aspirations to something grand… they’re made with fewer rules and preconceptions, and so they end up being more loose and free.

I have a huge collection of minicomics, it’d be hard to narrow it down… off the top of my head Eleanor Davis’s minicomics are beautiful, and Laura Park’s are wonderfully drawn. Dan Zettwoch’s Ironclad is one of the best minicomics ever.

RV: How did you sell them in the past? What do you say to store owners or whoever might sell them and what sort of deal did you offer them?

JB: I would bring them into stores here in Chicago, and write to other stores I’d heard of.

And once in a while I store would hear about them (usually from another store, or another cartoonist shopping at the store), and write to me to ask about carrying them.

Usually stores would either pay up front 50% of the cover price for five to ten copies, or take a few on consignment, paying between 50% to 70% of cover price once they’d sold.

I didn’t have any special spiel, I would just show or send a copy of the minicomic and ask if they were interested, and they would say how many they wanted to start with.

RV: Your Myspace page said you liked Tolkien and Murakami. What are novels or books have left a mark on you over the years?

JB: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was very powerful for me, especially reading it just six months after my son was born. The poetry of Russell Edson and Charles Simic has also been influential.

Of course, there’s also too many comics and graphic novels to list that have had a big impact on me – Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan and Julie Doucet’s My New York Diary are two that I return to again and again.

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