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April 16, 2009

Book Notes - Jeffrey Brown ("Funny Misshapen Body")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.

Jeffrey Brown is one of my favorite cartoonists, and his autobiographical works are some of the most memorable comics I have ever read. Funny Misshapen Body follows Brown from high school through art school, and enchants with its honesty, simplicity, and humor. From his early love of drawing and reading comics to his bout with Crohn's disease to his struggle to find himself, this book is filled with surprises and reminders of how talented Brown is as both an artist as well as a storyteller.

Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson wrote of the book:

"Misshapen Body is Brown's most comprehensive memoir to date and details how and why he decided to become an artist. Fans will recognize a few anecdotes, but he also includes plenty of new material, including passages about his struggle with Crohn's Disease and lighter fare about "soft drugs" and college hijinks."

In his own words, here is Jeffrey Brown's Book Notes essay for his graphic novel, Funny Misshapen Body:

Music probably gets less mention than usual in Funny Misshapen Body, at least as far as my books usually go. This book is about high school, college and art school, and the process of becoming an artist, finding that place where everything clicks. I guess my interest in music over the times being written about in the book paralleled that narrative - I didn't end up where I expected to, but I'm happy where I am now. Here's a few bands and songs that would be my soundtrack for those times.

CRASS "Big A, Little A"

This is a song that still runs through my head to this day. It was on a mixtape given to me by the girl I had a huge crush on in high school, which was full of a lot of punk songs. Pre-Green Day punk. Anyway, I asked her later if she had the track list and she said she'd get it from her friend who had made the tape for her. So she didn't actually even make the mixtape for me. But this song alone is worth it all.

LED ZEPPELIN "Dazed & Confused"

One of the big moments in loving music for me was, yes, discovering Led Zeppelin in high school. I borrowed all of my friend Nate's cassettes and copied them until I bought my own copies later. Now and then I still listen to their first album, which is my favorite and I think their best, although the version of 'Dazed & Confused' on The Song Remains The Same was my most listened to song of theirs back in the day.

MISFITS "Where Eagles Dare"

From Led Zeppelin moved on to heavy metal, and Misfits was one of my favorite bands. They're really great for singing along to in the car or shower. One of my first concerts was seeing Danzig, and he tripped over an amp and fell on his butt but kept singing, letting out a 'whooah.'


In my senior year of college, I had been listening to bands like Everclear and Rage Against The Machine when my friend Pete put in Pavement's Brighten the Corners and this song came on. My jaw dropped, and it was like a whole new idea of what music could be entered my mind, and hearing new music never stunned me more than that moment.

WEEN "Marble Tulip Juicy Tree"

Pete also introduced me to Ween, who would become a favorite of mine over the next few years after college, and remains the best live band I've ever seen. Or at least my favorite. Their album Paintin' the Town Brown came out while I was still smoking weed, and so I listened to it while smoking, and that's probably my only real drug/listening to music moment in my life. I love you, Ween.


Soul Coughing remains great driving music, and sustained me many a drive from my hometown Grand Rapids to visiting my friend Dan in East Lansing, and between Chicago and Michigan. Driving at night is the best, in the summer when you can roll the windows down, and there's no one else on the road and you can turn the music way up and sing along and bob your head to it.

SONGS:OHIA "Captain Badass"

I didn't make a lot of friends in the graduate program at art school, which probably had as much to do with me as them, I just didn't connect with anyone too much in those two years. Maybe I'm a little slow to warm up. I also never worked in my studio, so that didn't help. But one time I was in my studio and I heard someone playing Songs:Ohia, and it was this girl whose studio was down the hall from mine, and so I met her and became sort of casual at school say hello friends with her. This song is my favorite Songs:Ohia song, and also has vocal contributions from Edith Frost, whose music I also love.

Jeffrey Brown and Funny Misshapen Body: A Memoir links:

the author's blog
the author's page at Holy Consumption
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Pop Candy review
Rob Jackson's Comics Blog review
Robot 6 review

Around Comics interview with the author
Daily Cross Hatch guest comic by the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes music playlist for Little Things
Why Is Science Important guest comic by the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks
Online "Best Books of 2008" Lists


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