This is an interesting graphic novel. As the back of the book says it’s “an autobiographical meditation on Fatherhood and faith” and that’s 100% accurate. There’s not really a narrative as is the case with most autobiographical works of literature. But what I find interesting was the pacing and structure of the story. Some autobiographical tales have a way of presenting a story or showcasing a journey throughout their pages. It’s difficult to look at your own life and be completely honest about it, but then to find a lesson in the years that you have lived. I was kind of glad that wasn’t the case here as Brown just gives you snapshots of his life. It very much is a meditation of themes as events in Brown’s life have an overall connection, but his journey isn’t done. A lot of the book is about his upbringing and growing up in the church and how eventually he moved away from being a Christian. To some that’s not a big deal, but his father was a Minister so the impact on his family and life was very different.
Eventually he includes his first born son into the tale and it’s interesting to see the differences in upbringings; the effects of his father on his son and the differences in the relationships, but also the similarities.
Brown sticks to a pretty consistent 3x4 grid paneling for the story. Occasionally he’ll expand a grid to create an establishing shot or to expand the dialogue, but it’s mostly a 3x4 grid which is very impressive. The fact that he’s able to put so much detail into a small box shows his talent as an artist and storyteller. My first exposure to Brown’s artwork came in the form of A-E-I-O-U and he’s grown since then. I personally think that he’s autobiographical artwork is better than his Star Wars books, but obviously the subject matter is closer to him.
This book didn’t blow me away, but it definitely left me thinking and analyzing my own life, my own faith and I think that’s more of the point than anything else. So many graphic novels fade in and out of our life, but A Matter of Life resonated with me like few others have. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll pick up off the shelf each year and touch base with, but it’s definitely something I will visit again. It was a great read, but it was a better experience.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Jeffrey Brown Publisher: Top Shelf Comics Price: $14.95 Release Date: 7/2/13 Website