My Brain is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley

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My Brain is Hanging Upside Down
By David Heatley
Pantheon

In a book defined by brutal honestly, My Brain is Hanging Upside Down has one moment that stands out as perhaps even more telling than the rest. On the final page of the first section, David Heatley picks up a copy of The Comics Journal that features an excerpt from the strip that preceded it.

Reading a review of the piece to himself, the artist is genuinely shocked at the suggestion that the strip finds him, “experimenting with his bi-sexuality.” After revisiting the strip, Heatley comes to grip with the assessment, with a thought bubble that reads, “huh…I guess it does read like I’m bisexual. I always think of myself as ‘straight.’”

In the world of autobiographical comics, we often assume that the most affective works are also the most honest, that surely there’s a power that derives from the ability to approach life in the most transparent means possible. However, we also take for granted the fact that, even in the most candid of works, there remains a certain distance.

There are, after all, just some aspects of our lives that we’d prefer not to share with the rest of the world. It’s a filter that Heatley seemingly doesn’t possess, and where other artists largely prefer save those particularly loaded moments of their lives that they care to divulge to mine as much emotional currency as possible—be it comedy or tragedy—Heatley is content to horde them, stacking emotionally charged memories into neat little piles.

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