Love is a Peculiar Type of Thing
by Box Brown
96 pages, 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″, $10 US
Pre-order: Available in DIAMOND Previews starting April 1st
On Sale: June 3rd, 2009
I’ve read the Xeric Grant winning Love is a Peculiar Type of Thing and, just as the last page suggests, I went to the Box Brown website to read his webcomic, Bellen!, because I ended up wanting more. Yeah, I’m hooked.
Much like the panels melt away in the comic strips of Tom Hart and you see his main character, Hutch Owen, come to life, the same can be said for Box Brown’s Ben and Ellen. That is a high compliment indeed, if you know Tom Hart’s work. Even though Brown is still new to the comics game, I feel confident that he has a good handle on things. Like the work of Tom Hart or James Kochalka, to name just a couple of artists working in a similar vein, Brown manages to find new ways for the venerable comic strip to spring to life. His comics do not rely on formulas. You are more likely not to find anything resembling a punch line. Observations are top priority and characters get to have their say until they’re good and ready to wind themselves down.
Prose and art is elegantly spare. We’re down to the essentials like a best friend sitting down for a beer. Maybe an attempt will be made to grapple with the big questions for awhile before everything mellows out and we all just chill. Love is a peculiar type of thing. Yeah man, it is.
Box Brown’s alter ego, Ben, is a simply drawn young man trying to make sense of the world. Lucky for him, he has found his soul mate, Ellen. So, time together is precious and we see them revel in their romance. Cute stuff to be sure but not too cute since neither Ben nor Ellen are especially cute by themselves, at least not in an annoying way. The chemistry between them works and makes for engaging storytelling.
As an example, let’s look at one of the stories, “Your Sins Will Be As White As Snow.” This tale runs for nine pages and is ambitious in its scope. Ben is in the park when he meets up with an old man sitting at a park bench. Like an innocent child, Ben accepts from the man a little pamphlet which turns out to be one of those infamous comic book religious tracts by Jack Chick. As if empowered by an epiphany, Ben reports back to Ellen about his discovery. Ellen, who clearly knows about Jack Chick comics, tries to provide a voice of reason. Ultimately, obsession wins over reason as Ben must answer for his sins in hell to the one and only, Jack Chick.
Comic strips are a very unique art form and everything needs to be in place, the characters, the timing, the story, to maintain that delicate balance that allows the panels to melt away and carry you off. It looks like Box Brown is on his way.
And for more on Box Brown, read on my friend, to my interview with him here at Newsarama.