Friday, February 26, 2010

talking heads

good question ... especially after tossing in sex, blasphemy, damnation, cannibalism, vampires, ghouls and zombies — all of which were enough to drive canadian artist chester brown's kafkaesque "ed the happy clown" afoul of international customs, making it risky for the book to be shipped across the border.

this complication did not prevent brown from earning a 1990 harvey award for best cartoonist.

bizarre, pathetic, hilarious, cruel and mesmerizing, the unpredictable and unrestrained adventures of brown's completely harmless and perpetually helpless hero were some of the best comics i'd discovered in '94, second only to scott mccloud's groundbreaking "understanding comics". i got my copy at that year's san diego comicon, where vortex, brown's publisher, had a few boxes personally driven to the show.

a pint-sized reagan, his sultry wife nancy and a hoary brian mulroney

while the book is not politcal, ronald and nancy reagan play commanding roles, even if they and former canadian prime minister brian mulroney look nothing like their familiar selves. nonetheless, their obvious dissimilarities go unremarked and these odd doppelgängers are taken as granted and treated as the real mccoys. as with many a dream i've had, such distortions only come to light with the dawn.

• • •

(story and art by chester brown)

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