Review: Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing by Box Brown
Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing
By Box Brown
Self-published, no company name; February 2009, $10.00
It’s not often you find a book about someone named Ben created by someone named Box – the standard in comics is the other way around – but this is that book. In case you’re confused by the name, Box Brown is a new cartoonist – he has a series of strips, Bellen!, available online, though he denies that they’re a webcomic – and not the 19th century slave who escaped from Virginia via parcel post.
[[[Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing]]] collects about ninety pages of comics in a semi-autobiographical vein about a character named Ben. Ben is usually separate from his creator, but the two aren’t always distinct – and Brown draws himself very similarly to Ben in the first place. (But, to be fair, he knows this and points it out in one of the earlier strips in the book.) Ben and Box are both young and somewhat directionless, having gone through a few years in an unspecified corporate rat race before dropping out – Brown to create this book, and Ben to do something that’s unspecified or not clearly separated enough from Brown.
Some of these strips are contemporary, with Ben as a twentysomething – either grumbling about his life and thinking the usual post-college “big thoughts” or engaging in happy domesticity with Ellen, his girlfriend. And some of the strips are little pieces of fictionalized memoir, with Brown telling stories from Ben’s childhood, which is equally pleasant and typical, without anything particularly notable.
All of those pieces are solid and serviceable, but few of them are more than that – these are competent, readable memoir comics, without either grating whininess or any particularly outstanding insights. Ben/Box had a childhood like anybody’s, and Brown tells stories from that childhood that many other people could have told. His thoughts about life, similarly, are still basically sophomoric – not uninteresting, but not really distinctive or unique yet. Box Brown makes engaging comics pages, but he could use stronger subject matter than his own life – or he could make better use of that life.
Note: Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing does not appear to be available via the usual online channels, but it was solicited in Diamond’s April catalog and is supposed to hit direct market stores this month. My one piece of advice to Brown would be to get it onto Amazon if at all possible — his audience is much more likely to be there than in most comics shops.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He¹s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
Publishers who would like to submit books for review should contact ComicMix through the usual channels or email Andrew Wheeler directly at acwheele (at) optonline (dot) net.