Feeble Attempts by Jeffrey Brown

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Feeble Attempts
By Jeffrey Brown
Top Shelf

Jeffrey BrownEvery time I turn around, it seems, there’s another Jeffrey Brown book on the market. Of course there are certainly worse fates in this cold, cruel world than having to read a new Brown book every week or so, and these short collections—the ones most likely to sneak up on even the most devout amongst the artist’s fanbase—tend to also be the most lighthearted and breeziest in the Brown oeuvre.

That holds true for the bulk of Feeble Attempts. However, as a anthology—or perhaps more appropriately, a sample platter—of Brown’s mini-comics, consistency of theme is not the book’s strong suit, instead preferring to whip through the artist’s backcatalog, pulling pieces from mini-comics and anthology appearances, alternating between his more insightful diary strips, and lighthearted gag-based fair.

The strongest strip in the book straddles the line between the two, and also just so happens to be the one that gives the book it’s title. A quick, nine-panel strip, located on the inside cover, “Feeble Attempts 1987,” offers a wonderful bit of insight into the mind of a 12-year-old Brown, delusions of comic book grandeur and all.

More selections from Brown’s younger days are sprinkled throughout, though the bulk of the autobiographical pieces focus on a more contemporary Brown, scruffy hair, stubble, and all. A few re-introduce us to the lovesick Brown we’ve come to know and love, including, most notably, the five-page spread, “I’m Not Your Girlfriend, Jeffrey,” a snapshot of three months in the life of the artist that’s every bit as in and out of love as the forlorn title suggests. The other autobiographical pieces are goofy little vignettes from Brown’s life, helping old ladies cross the street and dealing with irate customers at Border’s.

The strips in which Brown doesn’t make an appearance, generally fall squarely within the gag category, similar in tone to Brown’s superhero spoof, Bighead. In fact, “Cycloptus” is a tragic hero story that would have fit perfectly in a collection of those strips.

Feeble Attempts is uneven, but it packs a lot of Brown into a collection for under $5. Not every strip contained herein is a classic, but in all, the selection should keep fans happy until the next Brown book comes the following week.

–Brian Heater

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