Written by: Alejandro Rodriguez, Special to CC2K
CC2K newcomer Alex Rodriguez makes his debut with a review of Jeffrey Brown’s graphic novel, Unlikely.
What makes a great graphic novel? Does it have to transform you to another land where men can fly? Does it have to prove to you that evil, no matter how tame, is still evil? Does it have to prove to you that the death of many can lead to peace in the end? What if it didn’t do any of it? What if it only showed you true events? Events that you can easily relate to? No capes, no tights, no masks. Only a truthful look at a man’s relationship that went sour after his loved one succumbed to drugs. Seems boring in contrast to the Joker torturing the citizens of Gotham City, there are a million books on the market that have the same story. What’s makes Unlikely or: How I Lost My Virginity any different from some book in the Young Adult section of Borders?
Unlikely is a graphic biography of the events that happened to Jeffrey Brown while in his first sexual relationship with his girlfriend Allisyn. The book goes over the rocky relationship from beginning to end in every heart wrenching moment. Brown doesn’t hold back throughout the entire book. Most men wouldn’t openly say that they had been hurt by a woman so much that they had to cry, yet Brown rejects the notion of the macho man and in more than one scene openly cries for his love Allisyn. This could be a turn off to some viewers, fearing that Brown was too much of a wimp to do anything about Allisyn’s drug habit, but it just shows how committed to the relationship he was. Anyone who has ever been in a rough relationship will immediately understand what Brown was going through.
From the humble beginning of the relationship to the heartbreaking end the reader will constantly feel sorry for both Brown and Allisyn. Allisyn is a much more wild and free person when compared to Brown. Her life has not always been the status quo and because of that it often causes a rift in the relationship. Her history with drugs and sexual partners begins to build a wall between the both of them and eventually they come to understand that they have become two opposite people in the same relationship. Things don’t often go as planned in the bedroom either, a detail rarely shown in any type of literature. Brown is far braver than most men when discussing his sexual conquests. Brown gives us an honest story about when two opposites attract and the negative outcomes that come of it.
The book may not be for everyone. Brown is a timid person who rarely speaks out against Allisyn’s doing. This could push people away from him as a character in a book. His pacifistic nature is the exact opposite of those you usually find in a romantic situation like this. Many times he plays the victim, a role often left for women, but this book breaks down concepts like this and has you realize that no matter how much you try you cannot change a person to your liking. Love often does not end up the way we want it to be and this book shows us in every detail that true love is harder to find than we may think. The book is a short read and isn’t very complex when compared to other novels where love is a main theme that is explored. (I’m not talking about romance novels by the way.) The macho men of this world may not like or even understand what this book is about, but those who take solace in Jeffrey Brown’s work will happily read the novel again and again. The story rarely stays peachy, but everyone will relate to the actions in this book. It’s as if Jeffrey Brown used this book as stress release to get rid of all the bad feelings in the relationship. Through that he has created something many people will relate to.
The art in the book isn’t the most polished. They could be related to sketches on paper. You won’t find anything of Alex Ross caliber, but Brown’s drawings help break the tension in some of the more serious scenes. The people don’t always look real to life, but you can’t help but smile at some of the things that Brown does throughout the book. Images, although scratchy, fit the pages and Brown’s persona much more than if he got some ultimate artist to do the pictures for him. His art style better suits the novel; you get a better understanding of who Jeffrey Brown is through his artwork and style. You may eventually understand why he acted the way he did during the comic book. Still young and naïve, the art in this book is a compliment to Brown’s amazing story telling.
Brown doesn’t completely change the concept of what a graphic novel is, but he doesn’t exactly fall into other more well known artists and writers. Unlikely or How I Lost My Virginity plays out more like going to a friend, a therapist, or just some ordinary person at a party and talking to them about how bad your last relationship was, but that you can’t help but still love the person. Jeffrey Brown gives you all the details of what happened to him in this rocky relationship and pulls no punches on what really happened. Anyone who has ever been in love in their life will walk away with something from this book. It’s a short read, but you will enjoy every second of it.