SPX Pulls: Box Brown Roundup / by Alex Jarvis

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I feel a little reluctant to group all of Box Brown here in this review, as I picked up three distinct pieces of his work while at SPX, but ultimately I decided I should. Hence the "Roundup."  I also made a fanboyish fool of myself, but you can read that in the interview we'll have live sometime next week.  Upon finding him in the back corner of SPX, I opened my wallet and began handing Box Brown dollars until I had everything on his table. Good thing, too--because that day he walked away with two Ignatz awards, one for best mini-comic (Ben Died of a Train) and best series (Everything Dies, which honestly deserves an entire article to itself, and may get it in the future.). So, without further ado, here's the Box Brown SPX Roundup. Check out more of Box Brown at Everything Dies. Ben Died of a Train, Ignatz Award Winner "Best Mini-Comic"

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There is a reason this won the award. BDOAT is emotional without delving into the sappy, and it introduces you to the life of a character with whom you almost immediately bond.  Ben was a real life friend to Box Brown, who really did die of a train (as the beginning describes, "The Story as I heard it."). It's a comic that runs on love, and I easily found myself thinking that I wish I had known Ben while he was alive. Of course, that's the trick; soon thereafter, you begin thinking of all the "Bens" in your life, and how you should make sure they know you care. The book runs on a very honest saccharine, perhaps best exemplified by ultimate line: "Ben impacted my life irreparably. And now he is gone." We should all be so lucky as to be remembered as well, and as lovingly, as Ben. You can read the comic in its entirety here.

LOVE is a peculiar type of THING: Comics by Box Brown

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Nestled between the honesty of Ben Died of a Train and the philosophy of Everything Dies, we find what might be my favorite of the Box Brown pulls. LOVE is a peculiar type of THING. Loosely focusing on the character of "Ben" (Distinct from the Ben of Ben Died, and very plainly described as a character Box can hide behind in one of the book's earlier stories.) LOVE is a series of short comics focusing on--you guessed it--love.  Not just being in love, mind you, but all emotions associated. The titular story is a giddy story about the emotions attached with being so deeply, supremely in love (and it's chemical similarities to cocaine), but it is immediately followed up by "When Heartbreak Happens," a series of non-sequiturs that cut directly to the moment that so many have felt so many times. The stories are without context, but nevertheless biting. Following that we see "Mundane Magic," as decent a story about loneliness as I can conceive. LOVE is a larger book than his others, with a square binding and a very nice presentation. Pick it up.
Everything Dies 2, 4-7, Ignatz Award Winner, "Best Series"image

I apologize for the odd numbering--Everything Dies 1 is out of print, and 3 was unavailable when I visited the table (sold out, I hope). Save for the "Heart of Stonework" stories, Everything Dies is a non-sequitur collection of Brown's own musings on religion, philosophy, atheism, and love.  The stories vary. One focuses on Box's thoughts on the different religions and their philosophies on life and death, old age, and, more curiously, the story of two monks going throughout the world. This is the aforementioned "Heart of Stonework" series, which involves a young monk seeking knowledge in a world that is ultimately different from what he expected. Interestingly, this monk looks a lot more like Box Brown than his "Ben" character, including the headband/bandana that I never caught him without. Everything Dies is a fantastic collection of stories, one that I recommend you pick up at your earliest convenience. Check out his website to read some of the stories from his out of print Everything Dies #1.