September 9, 2015

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SPX Spotlight 2015: Box Brown/Retrofit Offers Ignatz Nominated Work for Free Digitally

It's another entry in Panel Patter's SPX SPOTLIGHT series! We've been highlighting creators, publishers, and comics related to SPX since the site opened in 2008, but 2015 marks our fifth year of extensive coverage that is unlike what you'll find elsewhere! It's a great way to create your own personal guide for the show onSeptember 19th and 20th, 2015, in Bethesda, Maryland. Don't miss it! You can find all our SPX SPOTLIGHT posts here.


Box Brown made quite the impression with his biography of Andre the Giant last year, and with good reason--it was excellent. But some of us have been fans of Brown for years now (you can find all our reviews of his work here), as well as his publishing imprint that he's a part of, Retrofit (all reviews of Retrofit here). 

The thing that's cool about Brown's work is that it's both distinctive and extremely solid, without getting overly complicated. He'll fit shapes together into a geometry of images, breaking down people and places into their parts, then reconstructing them on the page in a way that makes them feel real, while still leaving hints of the circles and squares that created them. It's a cool style that helps you stop his work a mile away, especially when he's hanging out in a wrestling anthology or doing a random page or two for a friend's project.

At the same time, Brown also creates characters, either real or fictional, who act like people you might meet on the street, sometimes taken to an exaggerated level, and in other cases played completely straight. You know the places they live in, and even if they're a fantastic place, you still feel like it could be down the block--it was suddenly populated with robots or something. That's why I think his bio comic worked to great effect--while Andre was larger than life, we see him in a lot of smaller moments, trying to live out the life of a man on borrowed time due to his physical conditions and acting accordingly.

Switching gears to Retrofit for a moment--while I admit I've fallen a bit away from keeping up with Retrofit, the first few years of the publisher were simply amazing, and it's not anything against the titles that's kept me away--it's just that I only have so many minutes to read, and being honest, I can barely keep up with the things given to me by folks for review. However, a short sampling of the names involved with Retrofit should give you an idea of their quality: Box Brown, James Kochalka, Noah Van Sciver, Tom Hart, L. Nicols, Josh Bayer, Colleen Frakes, Corrine Mucha, and Andrew White, just to name a few of the murder's row of Panel Pals who have appeared under the imprint.

I'm not sure what will be in print at the show, but one thing I know you will be able to find is An Entity Observes All Things, the Ignatz-nominated comic from Brown. And for a limited time, they're making it available for free digitally via Gumroad. If you have any interest in Box's work or in what Retrofit does, this is a great chance to find out for absolutely free. I can't say anything about this one yet--I'm hoping to read it before I do my end of year posts--but it's Box Brown, Retrofit, and free--how could you go wrong with that?

My guess is after sampling, you'll be back for more. Box Brown and Retrofit both have some long tails of comics, almost all of which are completely awesome. Make sure you stop by to see them at SPX this year.