BFF: Brainfag Forever

Book Reviews | Aug 30th, 2008

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Author: Nate Beaty
Publisher: Microcosm Publishing
Genre: Mini-Comic
Pages: 224
Retail Price: 9.00
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BFF (Brainfag Forever) collects many of Nate Beaty’s Brainfag comics over the past eight years.

Nate Beaty’s style and writing is similar to Shawn Granton of Ten Foot Rule (not surprisingly, both were co-authors of the great Zinester’s Guide to Portland). The style reflects an angsty suburban-turned-urban grungy lifestyle and the usual mini-comic expressions of relationship sadsackery and existential floundering in a perpetual damp autumn of the soul, by way of ignoring adulthood and choosing a life of doodling on the poverty line. (Portland is great for that.)

I prefer Granton’s work, which contains some humor and has some cleaner, more effort-filled illustrations. Beaty is a couple of notches up from scribbler, but outside of a handful of inky, crosshatch-heavy landscapes of dilapidated trainyards and bridges, detail isn’t his strong suit.

The lengthy piece from Brainfag #5, however, is his most stylistic and affecting. The illustrations are cartoony, but the watercolor-like shading adds the right emotional depth to a story about the aftermath and unintentional mindgames of a sad breakup.

There’s a lot here most of us can relate to – loneliness, self-loathing, relationship awkwardness, unrequited crushes, mixtape difficulties, political frustration – but Brainfag for the most part doesn’t address them in any new or enlightening way. This isn’t a bad collection, but I feel I’ve read this stuff before.

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