BFF (Brainfag Forever) by Nate Beaty.
224 page trade paperback. 5 1/2 x 7".
Published/distributed by Microcosm.
BFF collects a decade or so of Beaty's minicomics. I really like this kind of retrospective collection. It's always fun to see the cartoonist grow and progress as you turn the page but it's also really neat to recall the decades through someone else's eyes. Or someone else's pen. The weird thing about this book for me personally is that looking at the past through Beaty's eyes is a lot like looking at it through my own eyes. I think we are similar in age or at least we grew up on the same junk. We both went to Virginia Tech. We both make comics. We both make our livings with computers. And, from what I've seen in the book, we both spent the '90s wandering the Earth in a bit of a daze. So yeah, I can totally relate to this collection.
The book contains more variations in drawing and storytelling style than I care to go back and count. From scratchy sketchbook stuff to really beautifully drawn illustrations. From diary comics to some vigorous narratives. The book has an impressive range. I think I enjoy his stream of conscious sketch book stuff the best. It shows Beaty at his most daring and is very funny.
The unifying theme of the book is self study and self discovery. This touches on a lot of doubt and self loathing but Beaty's travels are far enough off the beaten path to keep it interesting and he can be pretty funny when he cuts loose. With the exception of one section of diary comics where he's really just listing events, most of the book is really engaging. It's an unpredictable book. Just when you think he's settled on a style he shakes things up again.
The book is a very nice thick collection of comics. Microcosm did a great job with the shape, size and feel of the thing. I enjoyed getting lost in it for a while.
Your best pal ever,
p.p.p.s. I wrote most of this review way back in April but life got hard. Apologies to Nate Beaty and Microcosm for taking so long.