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NYCC: Exclusive Review of SPX Debut: Who is Andrew Brendan?

Written by Amanda Comi on Monday, October 12 2015 and posted in Reviews

NYCC: Exclusive Review of SPX Debut: Who is Andrew Brendan?

Hey! This is important! If we don't defend nerd culture from all the noobs and the posers they'll wreck everything. -- Andrew Brendan, King of the Internet

Source: Andrew Brendan: King of the Internet #1

Too lazy to read the entire review? Check out Mr. Tim's website to order a copy of Andrew Brendan, his first on-going project!

Meeting "Mr. Tim" Chamberlain was a highlight of my Small Press Expo experience this year. I was caught off guard when I recognized him and I just barely managed to keep my cool. While awkward, I (think) I was sufficiently inconspicuous and there will not be an illustrated memorial of the conversation. Of course, I'm being rude here. I'm talking about this 'comic guy' as though he's famous and everyone is familiar with his work. By including this #humblebrag anecdote I have violated several of my personal rules for reviewing comics. Especially, rule #2 about assuming that any comic book might be the first comic book for someone.

I should be excused in this case because Tim Chamberlain is sort of a big deal. You're reading The Outhousers, therefore you should also be reading Chamberlain's webcomic Our Valued Customers because it's about YOU. At least once per week, Chamberlain produces a single panel illustration featuring a caricature of a comic book store customer making a ridiculous comment on... uhh, comic books, movies, life, girlfriends, boyfriends, comic books, politics, food, television, comics books. You know, all the important things in life.

By taking these statements out of context, the absurdity of our common complaints is laid bare, and we laugh at ourselves. Or cry, depending on how close the humor cuts. At the root, Chamberlain's observations are funny because they are true, and they are true because they are based on real life interactions in a brick and mortar comic book store.

That's changing though. Chamberlain has flipped the script from offering fictionalized reality, to realistic fiction... if that makes any sense.

For his new project, Andrew Brendan: King of the Internet, Chamberlain has distilled the essence of every horrible comic book nerd and every user who was ever banned from a website forum, into a single nasty human being. The titular Andrew Brendan, bullies little old ladies, demands that his parents pay his rent, wastes all day trolling internet forums, and he can't keep his mouth shut long enough to survive a double date.

If that sounds like a lot of character development for a single panel, that's because there's more than one panel, duh!

In addition to breaking through the fiction boundary, Chamberlain is also breaking his self imposed constraint of using only single panel one liners. He is stringing together multiple panels to create short scenes, ranging from 1-5 pages. Several of these scenes feature recurring characters, but there is no direct continuity yet. This style feels like something between newspaper comic strips and an anthology of short stories. The first available sample is the size of a single monthly issue and includes ten Andrew Brendan episodes.

For the Our Valued Customers webcomic Chamberlain's drawings are distinctive, black and white with heavy lines. This is a perfect style for print in alternative newspapers (yes, this still happens!). These drawings also remain legible on a tiny cell phone screen, and the regular layouts are a good match for digital format.

While practical, and perfect in small doses, I found that this visual style was a bit repetitive when applied to the entire Andrew Brendan single issue. For example, every time we see Andrew open his mouth, the shape of his mouth is almost identical. Sometimes he's facing right, and sometimes he's facing left, but he's only speaking loudly and he only looks like an idiot. Hmmm... actually, maybe that means the drawings are spot on.

Chamberlain also does the lettering for both of these comics and in Andrew Brendan his lettering work shines. He layers his dialogue three dimensionally in the panel, using the imaginary space behind the characters and in front of them. When multiple characters speak, their words get dealt out like playing cards, back and forth, naturally.

Do I recommend Andrew Brendan? Yes, this is a fun read for existing fans of Our Valued Customers, comic book fans in general, anyone who knows a comic book fan in real life, anyone who has seen an episode of The Simpsons, and probably anyone who has ever used the internet. Even children would love this as a coloring book (although Mom & Dad might not love the language). So what are you still doing reading this review? Hurry up and go find a copy!


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About the Author - Amanda Comi

Amanda is grumpy and crunchy on the outside with a warm squishy center comprised primarily of human organs. Much like a cat, she is easily distracted by pretty colors or flashy bits of foil. If Amanda notices that you’re busy enjoying yourself, she will start complaining and sit on your keyboard until you pay attention to her. By day she wrangles numbers from a cubicle, by night she sleeps, and by weekends… she also sleeps. She believes that comics can be enjoyed by everyone and looks forward to proving that hypothesis. She just barely does the twitter thing as @hermitiancat, but that's a good place to find her.

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