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04/23/2004 Archived Entry: "Comics review: Be A Man"

Be A Man
by Jeffrey Brown
Published by Top Shelf Productions

Reviewed by Tom Good

In an introduction to Be A Man the author explains that this comic is a sequel to (and parody of) an earlier work: "A few months ago I realized I was much too sensitive and pathetic in 'Clumsy,' so I wrote 'Be A Man' and fixed myself, creating the 'Clumsy' you all wanted to see." I have not read Clumsy, so this review is based on Be A Man as a stand-alone piece.

Be A Man consists of a series of 29 short black-and-white episodes, almost all of which are six-panel stories that fit on a single page. The art is intentionally crude, simple line drawings. The story features two unnamed characters, a man and his girlfriend, and it dramatizes stereotypically insensitive, macho male behavior. Example scene:

WOMAN: I'm fat.

MAN: Well, then why don't you get off your ass and lose some weight? Or just be comfortable with your body, like I am. [He flexes his nonexistent bicep muscles and pats his flabby abdomen.]

MAN (pointing to a TV show): That chick is HOT.

Though the concept has potential for humor, Be A Man is rarely laugh-out-loud funny. More often, the situations come across as uncomfortable and sad, though still entertaining in a way. In many ways it reminds me of Matt Groening's Life In Hell strip, with the added element of male chauvinism.

Overall, though I found Be A Man only mildly amusing, it did make me curious to read more of Brown's work.

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Updated: May 31, 2004