Although it seems strange to say this in an article about a comic that contains a super-villain named "Beefy Hipster", it is clear that Brown understands subtlety. Bear with me, here; what I mean to say is that he never goes “too far”. His parodies are especially thought-out, and never rely on cheap non-sequitur gags or tired juxtaposition. He treats the subjects of his spoofing with a care and understanding that celebrates just as much as it denigrates. The detail inherent in Bighead especially makes it obvious that this is a guy, who at one point (at least), seriously loved the superhero genre. In fact, Brown recently produced a Fantastic Four takeoff for Marvel Knights' excellent Strange Tales series/ "indie" talent showcase.
Although I wouldn’t like to claim to know an author’s sources for pastiche, Deadly Awesome combines the overblown clichés of American MMA broadcasts with what certainly appears to be a recreation of Japanese combat-sport manga (such as influential boxing drama Hajime no Ippo). Again, here subtleties of Brown’s humour are seen again: The physical action between fighters is played straight (actually showing a fairly accurate portrayal of a UFC-style bout) whilst most of the laughs come from the hyperbolic narration and internal monologues of the characters.
Until next time, keep avoiding the future.
PS: If you’re still not sold on it, how can you refuse a book that contains the greatest single-page in comics history?
Post-script (February 3rd, 2009):
Jeffrey Brown was kind enough to reply to an email from us, and stated that, although he did have in mind the idea of how manga stretches out time during fight sequences, fight-genre manga like Hajime no Ippo was not a direct influence on Deadly Awesome. He offered the following insight on the way comics convey the passage of time:
“... My initial idea was just wanting to do an 80 page fight scene, and I did have in mind the idea of how manga stretches out time like that, I guess in contrast to how I usually compress everything. Actually, I think Love & Rockets is the anti-manga in that sense, how they'll have pages that cover years of time passing from one panel to the next...”
Much gratitude to Mr Brown for his correspondence! –Team ATF
- Buy Sulk #1: Bighead & Friends via Top Shelf
- Buy Sulk #2: Deadly Awesome via Top Shelf
- Buy Sulk #3: The Kind of Strength That Comes From Madness via Top Shelf
- Jeffrey Brown's Website