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I am Going to Be Small
by Jeffrey Brown
Published by Top Shelf Productions
Sometimes you just don't have enough time to sit down and read a full comic book or graphic novel. That should be rare, since most single issues are only 22 pages and can be read in about 10 minutes. But, sometimes you might be in the middle of a major project and then start regretting that you had the carne asada chimichanga for lunch and it's not sitting well for you so you have to run to the water closet to han'l dat bizness but you gotta make that quick to get back to your project but even for that short amount of time you need some reading material.
That's where "I am Going to Be Small" is perfect. Amazon lists this volume as being 384 pages, so at first encounter, that may seem like a long book. Then you pick it up and realize it's only 4.5"x6", just slightly larger than a standard postcard. Instead of being one long tedious story, it's a collection of cartoons by Jeffrey Brown. Most are no more than 3 or 4 panels, so sometimes more than one cartoon is on a single page. They don't tie into each other, so you're not in for a huge commitment if you start reading this thing. In fact, you can pretty much turn to any random page on any given sitting.
I'm not going to sell you the world here and tell you this book will change your life, so don't expect that. There are a ton of independent books out there that will do that (many of which are also published by Top Shelf - go read Blankets), but this isn't one of them. The art here is not groundbreaking, and some would consider "juvenile" as overrated praise. No, what you will get here are some enjoyable, humorous tidbits. Some might interpret these as little parodies, or satire criticizing different aspects of our mundane lives. I like to think that even Jeffrey Brown would say you're reading too much into it if you think that. I suggest taking this book at face value, which means you would get a chuckle every few pages. A lot of it is what I'm guessing is self-deprecating autobiography, which can always be fun. You gotta appreciate a guy who doesn't take himself seriously and actually tries to publish material he made that makes him look like a loser. There's a certain charm in that.
Even the "praise" included at the beginning of the book is funny in a sense:
"emotionally about six years old." - Warren Ellis
"Mildly confusing." - Metro Toronto
"Utter piece of shit." - Proper Gander
I'm not saying that every guy who puts a book out demeaning himself is funny. There's plenty of trash out there that's not enjoyable at all, but this book is. Cover price is $14, but I got mine direct from the Top Shelf for $3 when they were having a huge sale. I do want to point out that some of the funnier stuff is adult-oriented, so don't think from the childish art that this book is intended for children. Also, if you're easily offended by humor based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, poverty, pooping, natural disasters, obesity, violence, sex, disabilities, the wild west, ninjas, sports, birth, PMS, employment, animals, war, space, CPR, hunger or dinosaurs, maybe you should consider not getting this book... or any other book... or turning on your TV or computer... ever.
Who should read this book:
People who enjoy The Far Side.
People who don't have a lot of time to invest in reading books.
People who subscribe to magazines specifically to look at the ads.
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