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Justin Green's Binky Brown Sampler

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Paperback Publisher: Last Gasp,U.S. (31 Aug 1995) Language English ISBN-10: 0867193328 ISBN-13: 978-0867193329

ESSENTIAL READING

key themes: OCD anxiety religion sex alcohol

In his introduction, Art Spiegelman credits Justin Green with inventing the genre of autobiographical comix and states explicitly that without Binky Brown there would have been no Maus. In its day there was (apparently) nothing else like this; Green paved the way for his better known peers, like Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. So without this book, all the others listed on this site might not have existed.
I have to admit that this is probably my favorite book of all the one's I have listed on this website. It was reprinted in 1995 after being unavailiable for 20 years. The main story is "Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary", and added to it are other published stories featuring the same character. Binky Brown (Green's alter ego) develops Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a child. Having been brought up in a strict roman catholic family, Browns obsessions soon take on a religious bent. Thoughts of causing harm to his family though non compiliance to compulsions turn to thoughts of inadvertently committing blasphemy against God. As he has just hit puberty, sexual obsessions get mixed in and he is plagued by intrusive carnal thoughts of the Holy Virgin. All his waking thoughts and actions are soon weighed down by an ever expanding web of associations, obsessions and compulsive ritual. It is hellish for him, but the way that Green ironicaly portrays himself is as hillarious as it is grotesque. If you are a practicing roman catholic (or a churchgoer of another denomination, for that matter) you might well find this book obscenely offensive. Personally, I love it.
You have to bear in mind that Green was only diagnosed with OCD after these strips were originally published. OCD is only mentioned in his 1995 preface/disclaimer. At the time the condition was ill understood and there was no ready treatment; now in an age when the causes of OCD are better understood, this comic book still works brilliantly as an example of what it is to suffer the mental torments of the condition.

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