From Publishers Weekly
Brown's second autobiographical graphic novel mines similar territory to his debut, Clumsy. It tells of Brown losing his virginity at age 24 and the relationship that precedes and follows the event. Brown meets Allisyn at a party and they begin a slow courtship, culminating in a confused and uncomfortable sexual relationship, which then begins to eat away at their relationship in general. As with Clumsy, Brown makes an otherwise straightforward tale compelling. Unlikely is composed of vignettes, each isolating a moment in their relationship-a conversation, a party, hanging out-that deliver essential bits of thematic and emotional information. This allows readers to see the relationship as Brown experienced it, without the false strictures of quotidian continuity. We see the pair only in the context of their togetherness; there are no subplots or narrative detours. Brown's dialogue is perfect, lending the proceedings an unerring sense of authenticity. His drawing, ragged at first glance, is minimal, nuanced cartooning, using a minimum of lines for maximum effect. And remarkably, the work avoids the usual pitfalls of autobiographical comics: Brown never asks readers for pity, nor does he offer up a confession. There are no lyrical interludes, and the unsparing documentation ensures that voyeurism never enters into the mix. Through careful editing and scene selection, he lets the story unfold as though, in a sense, it didn't happen to him. Readers are left with only the exterior facts, and must make up their own minds about the characters based solely on what Brown shows.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Brown's deceptively simple, autobiographical comic depicts the brief romance of two young, slackeresque types: Jeff, a needy, clingy virgin, and Allisyn, a troubled free spirit. One is too naive, the other too oblivious, to see that the relationship is doomed from the beginning. Brown portrays the couple's developing closeness with heartbreaking tenderness and their inevitable breakup with unflinching frankness. There is a naked (frequently literally) honesty to it all, and the drawings' awkward appearance reflects the couple's callowness. Brown's disarmingly casual, scratchy style makes Jeff and Allisyn seem innocent and childlike, even when they are having sex or taking drugs, while his narrative skill makes them sympathetic and endearing, even when their behavior is at its worst. If alternative-comics fans who have followed Brown's brief career will find the denouement more inevitable than unlikely--they know the relationship portrayed in Brown's Clumsy
(2003) follows much the same trajectory--they as much as Brown's new readers may wind up hoping that his future relationships fare better for his personal happiness and his artistic development. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved