11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
First of all: gorgeous artwork. If you're the type of graphic novel reader who appreciates a more sketchy style over precisely inked linework, you'll love the art and the watercolor washes used to color the story.
Glyn Dillon's story of a young woman's trials with OCD and discovering a life she is comfortable with is impressive. What makes it so impressive, and what I wished he'd done more throughout the book, is how certain points aren't spoon-fed to the reader. Anybody who purchases this book already knows the main character, Nao, has OCD. It's how she struggles to manage it in her life and what can trigger her irrational thoughts that draw us in.
And the silences between the conversations of the characters and how they're illustrated say more than any dialogue could possibly say, especially those between Nao and her friend/employer, Steve.
While I wish the ending hadn't been so sentimental and "all wrapped up," I've got to give credit to Dillon for making an adult graphic novel that reads like one. You'll remember this story after you're done reading it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon features beautiful artwork, and would be worth taking a look at for that reason alone. But it has an unusual, engaging story that had me going back through the book when I was done.
Nao Brown is half-Japanese, very cute, and an artist. She works in a shop selling Japanese toys and such. She's obsessed with Japanese Ichi comic book characters, and becomes interested in a bearded, heavyset washing-machine repairman who looks like one of them. Her problem: she is plagued by an obsessive compulsive disorder that unexpectedly will overwhelm her with thoughts of injuring and killing other people. The images and thoughts can be simply awful, like stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly. Her struggles to cope with this disorder and conceal it are riveting. Also fascinating is her use of Buddhist meditation and Buddhist artwork to help her learn to not be overwhelmed.
There is a good bit of humor and gentle wisdom in the book as well. The teachers and students at the Buddhist center, for example, can be overly sincere and unaware of their absurdity, for all their compassionate intentions.
Interspersed is the story of a half-man, half-tree Ichi character who joins the Japanese army. The graphic images are weird, ornate and contrasting in style to the realism of the rest of the book. But they also have a quiet serenity to them which understandably appeals to Nao, and the reader.
In Nao's story we learn about her toy store boss, her roommate, her family, and more about the repairman. He turns out to have a wisdom, and a secret, of his own. There is a short text piece toward the end from his diary that provides a different angle to the story. If you are looking for something different in your reading, this certainly provides it. It also provides a rare and thoughtful Buddhist perspective on its events.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2013
A brilliant use of the graphic novel medium. Beautifully illustrated and painted, the character of Nao and her relationships with others was easily understood. I enjoyed it depth and understanding of mental illness and the real day feelings invoked by Nao. My only problem which quickly resolved after reading it to completion was the intervening story between the chapters. I didnt quite understand its implicatons till the end and so was annoyed at having to stop and read it when all i wanted to do was read more about Nao and her life. Apart from that its a fascinating read and I would recommend it.
on November 29, 2014
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com
I purchased this book at a local library book sale.
At a recent library book sale I was volunteering at, I stumbled across The Nao of Brown. All it took was a glance at the cover art and a flip through its vibrantly illustrated pages, and I knew I had to give it a warm home. And so no one else could give it a warm home, I hid it behind some technical manuals until my shift was over. It wasn’t my proudest moment but I stand by my decision.
Nao has returned to London after losing a job and a relationship. She seeks a new start, but fears that everything will continue in the same downward trajectory she has come to expect. She is reunited with some old friends and makes some new ones as she tries to find purpose and meaning in her life and in life in general. The story is interrupted every now and then by a parallel story in the form of a Japanese parable that provides an interesting break in the art style and provides an extra layer of narrative for the main story to be plucked out of its pages.
The Nao of Brown is a graphic novel that is different from most I’ve seen. There’s no action or gratuitous sex, no monsters or cool gadgets, no superheroes or villains. Usually the only time these elements aren’t present in a graphic novel, the main themes are comedic or cutesy in nature. In fact, up until now, I haven’t paid this medium as much attention as I possibly should have because of it. Thank God every now and then something comes along to challenge my notions.
In The Nao of Brown, Glyn Dillon has created a very character-centered work that focuses on a girl named Nao. Nao is a half Japanese, half English girl, who feels as if she doesn’t fully belong to either culture, or the human race in general, at times. Ever since she was a child, Nao has been plagued by a peculiar form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that causes her to obsessively fixate on violent scenarios in her mind. For example, in one scene she is on an airplane and she thinks about pulling the hatch and depressurizing the cabin. The thought disturbs her so much that she parks herself in the airplane lavatory for the remainder of the flight, trying to force the scenario out of her mind. Her innocence and her shy demeanor are juxtaposed with this horrifying condition, and it only serves to build level upon level of depth to both her character and the story in general.
I was drawn into this story from the beginning. The beautifully gentle themes and subtle but uproariously funny comedy roped me in. As funny as it is at times, this is no comedy. There are some incredibly real themes and situations that are sometimes very dark, always true to form. The story is the perfect snapshot of life for the twenty something year old. From the eternal struggle for identity and truth, to alcoholism and mental illness, romance, inadequacy and growth, Dillon has run the gamut of the human condition in this work.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Nao of Brown from the first frame to the last. I would recommend it for anyone interested in graphic art or anyone with an interest in the human condition. I think anyone in their twenties or thirties would enjoy it from a more personal perspective, but the struggles, truths, and the amazing themes in this story can be useful and enjoyable for anyone at any age (not children, due to some mature themes and swearing). At the very least, there are some truly funny bits and the art is incredibly detailed and emotive.
Absolutely charming from beginning to end.
on May 24, 2013
A superb, truly exceptional book for both the poignant story and the beautiful art. Artistically Dillon is on par with Frederic Boilet - they both use photorealistic style. But Dillon goes beyond realism by splicing fantastic dream sequences and an allegorical sci-fi fable within this modern romance. I concede the points of reviewers who felt that a) Nao was a bit artificially constructed to be a too lovable hentai, b) with only mild OCD, avoiding an uglier, more painful portrait, and c) a somewhat sudden, perhaps unsatisfying, ending. However, I found that any such plot weaknesses were more than made up for by the incredible drawing, overall depth, feeling and interwoven themes (mystical Buddhism, Japanese anime, and more) running throughout the story.
Evan Tick CITI
on December 28, 2012
From the complexity and utterly charming personality of the titular character to the beautiful illustrations and colorful writing making up the story-within-a-story, this is a work that is bold, skillfully crafter, and has broad appeal. It deftly showcases the great skill of its creator, and is without a doubt a piece of visual storytelling that fully deserves the attention of a wider reading audience interested in literary fiction of any kind. Between this and other releases in the last year, UK publisher SelfMadeHero has thoroughly established itself as an important voice on the international comics scene.
on April 25, 2013
Checked this out as a cold purchase, the art is interesting and the main character itself is deliberately made to be cute and kooky and in a self-referential aside, a checklist of everything that appeals to a nerdface.
The problem is the story didn't have all that much of a punch to me, the ending was random and how it wrapped itself up was annoying and disappointing. It would've been interesting if the sudden turn didn't come as it did and if the story somehow could find a resolution without a typical resolution.
on May 2, 2013
Nao Brown is a half-Japanese, half-British woman who works in an artsy toy store, gathers to meditate with local Buddhists, and loves a Japanese manga (comic series) called Ichi. Oh - and she has obsessive violent fantasies, which terrify her.
Simultaneously charming and troubled, Nao is a completely compelling character. And Dillon's book as a whole is equally compelling. His loose inks and expressive watercolors create an enveloping atmosphere. He also has a real knack for capturing facial expressions, gestures, and postures, which cumulatively build tremendous emotional detail and nuance. As if all that weren't enough, Dillon intersperses sections of the manga Ichi into the main story, and this story-within-a-story is rich in symbolism and portent (and showcases a radically different artistic style).
While the conclusion of the story feels a bit hasty (as many other reviewers have pointed out), the journey to that conclusion is so satisfying that I really can't complain. All in all, this is one of the finest graphic novels I've read.
on December 24, 2013
If you're into cerebral, artsy graphic novels about dealing with a stifling sense of self awareness, this is the book for you.
Well written, well drawn, well organized. Well done, Glyn Dillon.
I flippin' love this book.
on May 19, 2014
My favorite graphic novel now! Story was relatable and illustrations were beautifully executed. The hardcover version is worth the extra.