On “Binky Brown”

Reading about this groundbreaking undergrounder in Hillary Chute’s Why Comics? reminds me of the time I first came across it (I believe it was the second printing) in a Missoula “head shop.” The cover alone was “WHAAAAAAT?” This will fill you in on its history and significance.

I couldn’t believe this comic — every page was a revelation (as well as disturbing) that touched on society, the sexes, religion, growing up, and of course psychological disorder of the OCD type. It’s a bit like Elvis — it’s impossible to convey the jolt of surprise as one encountered “Binky Brown” when it was new.

I was on the inexperienced and naive side myself. I was certain Justin Green was going to become a prolific comix genius. For a long time I thought of him with a twinge of disappointment. Older and at least a couple (white) hairs wiser, I now see what an unrepeatable performance “Binky Brown” was. But hey — lots of artists have long and large careers without producing even one masterpiece. I bought the fancy 2009 reprint and thought Green’s work deserved every bit of the celebration.

2 thoughts on “On “Binky Brown”

  1. I didn’t read Binky Brown when it was new – couldn’t find a copy until that Last Gasp reprint came out in the 90s – but even after years of hearing about its importance, it still blew me away. I can’t think of a better portrayal of the tragicomedy that is OCD, and that’s just one of its many accomplishments.

    I think that JG did other fine work that tends to be overshadowed by Binky. The Sage Monkey story is more frightening than many of the UG era’s out and out horror comix, “The Kiss Off” both prefigures and transcends subsequent slice-of-life comics (was anyone in the world aside from Yoshiharu Tsuge doing this kind of comic in 1970?), and sometimes I love “We Fellow Traveleers”–his last major work–even more than Binky, as it manages to recontextualize many of Binky’s themes and symbols within a picaresque narrative. I’ve long hoped a publisher like Fantagraphics would release a compliation of his these and other short stories he did.

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