underground comix at comixjointarchiveswebcomixfeaturesmarketplaceforumsearchmickeybacktosection go to sample pagesgo to next comicblank sidebarblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickgo to head comix samplesgo to hear the sound of my feet walking  blankbrickblankbrick review-ugheaderheaderblankrightheader spacerlink to aalpha bcd-efghi-jk-lmn-o-pq-rstu-v-wx-y-zalpha blank right
binky brown 1st
brilliant writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 5
total score 10
Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary
1st Printing / March, 1972 / 44 Pages / Last Gasp Eco Funnies

If you like this comic,
you might also enjoy
show n tell
Show + Tell Comics
Of all the underground comics, Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary may have had the most lasting impact on alternative and popular comics, though there are certainly millions of comic-book fans who have no clue about its importance. Justin Green's autobiographical tale about his Catholic upbringing was truly groundbreaking and inspired fellow and future comic creators to publicly divulge their private lives and personal histories, for better or worse.

Yes, Robert Crumb also crafted brutally honest autobiographical stories in the early '70s, in which he drew himself as a character, but despite his honesty Crumb's comics were essentially comical parodies on his personal obsessions. Crumb himself admits that Green was "the FIRST, absolutely the FIRST EVER cartoonist to draw highly personal autobiographical comics." Because Binky Brown was so obviously founded on the complex life of a real person, it opened the comic floodgates to realistic protagonists who were deeply flawed or morally conflicted, yet still likable to the reader. Binky Brown single-handedly launched an unprecedented comic-book movement that took root immediately, spread quickly, and evolved into a major category of modern comic art.

Binky Brown presents its audience with a single story that follows the tormented youth of Binky Brown (the alter ego Green used in all of his autobiographical work). Binky exhibits compulsive behavior even as a young Catholic school boy, but as he approaches puberty and his thoughts turn to his emerging sexuality, he develops an elaborate system of obsessions based on the fear that he will contaminate his religion and its icons with his sexual thoughts. He begins to believe that "sinful rays" emanating from his penis (and later from his hands and feet) must be diverted from striking churches or images of the Virgin Mary. He becomes continually terrified that his impure thoughts might debase and disgrace his family, himself and the very tenets of his religion.

Green portrays this disturbing, seemingly endless nightmare with frequent touches of humor, as Binky also faces the more typical challenges of puberty and acceptance from his peers. The story follows Binky through his early twenties, when he finally finds the means (in a very underground manner) to control some of his compulsive imagination. At times Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary can be quite funny, but more often it is unnerving as we witness the misery and consequences of what we now recognize as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It wasn't until years after the book was published that Green was diagnosed with OCD and began a therapy regimen to treat the disorder. But even if Green had known the nature of his disorder when he wrote the book, his struggle between sexual impurity and religious cleanliness as an adolescent would have been every bit as real for him when it happened.

Green's comic manifesto had an immediate impact on his fellow creators. As Chris Ware wrote in a review for the 2009 hardcover reprint of Binky Brown from publisher McSweeney's; "With Binky Brown, comics went practically overnight from being an artform that saw from the outside in to one that sees from the inside out." Art Spiegelman, who wrote the fawning foreword for the hardcover reprint, has often stated that Binky Brown made his novel Maus possible. Binky Brown was surely a key influence on Harvey Pekar and scores of comic book writers and artists who began to look inside their own lives for creative inspiration and paths to compelling stories.

There are three comic-book printings of Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary in the 1970s, all by Last Gasp and all with 50-cent cover prices. Kennedy's Price Guide reports that there were a total of approximately 55,000 copies printed during these printings, but individual printing quantities are not currently known. Other reports indicate the quantity may have been closer to 40,000 copies. I tend to believe the latter is more accurate, given that Kennedy also stated there may have been four printings, and currently we believe there are only three.
The 1st printing is distinguished from subsequent printings because it includes a drawing of Virgin Mary behind lines of text in the bottom left panel of page 23 (page numbers always begin with the front cover as page 1). Subsequent printings do not include this drawing. It is believed that the 2nd and 3rd printings are not distinguishable from one another.
Comixjoint Tell: The 1st printing can also be distinguished by its front cover art, which includes areas of black background color around the "V" and the "M" in the title lettering that were converted to a flat, purple color in subsequent printings.
There are also blobs of green in the "cloud" behind the title of the 1st printing, which were eliminated (by solid black ink) in the 2nd or 3rd printing. By studying the differences between the two front covers, it is easy to tell the 1st printing from the 2nd or 3rd.
In 1995, Last Gasp published Justin Green's Binky Brown Sampler, a 96-page book featuring all of the original comic book as well as Binky Brown stories from Show + Tell and Sacred and Profane, in addition to an introduction by Art Spiegelman and a "Message to Parents" from Justin Green.
In late 2009, McSweeney's published a hardcover edition of Binky Brown, comprising 64 pages, which included commentary from Justin Green and an introduction by Art Spiegelman.
Justin Green - 1-44

binky brown 2nd
2nd/3rd Printing
50-cent cover, no drawing of Virgin Mary
on page 23.