Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary

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Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary
The cover to the original Last Gasp edition of the Binky Brown comic book
Publication information
Publisher Last Gasp Eco Funnies
Format One-shot
Genre Autobiographical comics
Publication date 1972
Number of issues 1
Creative team
Creator(s) Justin Green

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is a 44-page autobiographical comic book from 1972 by American cartoonist Justin Green. It was the first long autobiographical work to appear in underground comics, and was extremely personal, detailing Green's childhood struggle with a disorder which in Catholicism is referred to as scrupulosity, and was later diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The book had such a long-lasting influence that Green has come to be thought of as one of the most significant underground comics creators.[1] The comic book influenced many other cartoonists of Green's generation and beyond to explore their own personal histories; Art Spiegelman said it made his graphic novel Maus possible.[2]

Publishing History[edit]

The original comic book, published in 1972 by Last Gasp, is out of print, but is included in the 1995 collection Justin Green's Binky Brown Sampler from Last Gasp (ISBN 0-86719-332-8), which also includes Green's text essay on his OCD experience, "The Binky Brown Matter". It was also reproduced by McSweeney's in a deluxe edition from the original artwork in 2009 (ISBN 978-1934781555), with a forward by Art Spiegelman.

Overview[edit]

Binky Brown (the alter-ego Green uses in all of his autobiographical stories) exhibits compulsive behavior from an early age, but shortly before puberty he begins to develop an elaborate system of obsessions based on the fear that he will contaminate religious sites with his sexual thoughts. Eventually he begins to believe that "rays" from his penis (later emanating also from his hands and feet, and even from furniture) must be kept from striking churches or images of Mary. This disturbing psychological case study is portrayed with frequent touches of humor, as Binky also faces more usual challenges of adolescence. The story follows Brown/Green through his early twenties, when he finally achieves some control over his intrusive thoughts.

At the time he drew the book, Green did not know about OCD and described his condition as neurosis, which he blamed largely on his Catholic upbringing. After being diagnosed with OCD, Green softened his position on Catholicism—though he did not return to the Church—and, in his foreword to The Binky Brown Sampler, described the story as "a sin of youth ... [but] done out of internal necessity."[3]

Reception[edit]

The book has had a huge, immediate and long-lasting influence on alternative and underground comics. Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Jim Woodring have all talked about Green's work as having a fundamental influence on them, Spiegelman going as far as to say, "Without Binky Brown there would be no Maus," in his introduction to Last Gasp's Binky Brown Sampler.[2]

The book was ranked #9 on The Comics Journal's list of the 100 best comics of the century, one place higher than Robert Crumb's highest-ranked place.

Editions[edit]

Year Title Publisher ISBN Format Status
1972 Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary Last Gasp Eco Funnies Comic book Out of print
1995 The Binky Brown Sampler Last Gasp 0-86719-332-8 Softcover collection In print
2009 Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary McSweeney's 978-1-934-78155-5 Deluxe hardcover In print

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "[...]the book[...]concentrates largely on long-established underground/post-underground creators: Harvey Pekar, Gilbert Hernandez, Justin Green, Art Spiegelman."Wivel, Matthias (2010-11-06). "Blog vs. Professor: What’s in a Name?". The Hooded Utilitarian. Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b Spiegelman, Art, introduction. Binky Brown Sampler. Last Gasp (1995).
  3. ^ Green, Justin, foreword. The Binky Brown Sampler, Last Gasp (1995).

Sources consulted[edit]

Further reading[edit]