I Never Liked You

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This article is about the graphic novel. For the song, see I Never Liked You (song).
I Never Liked You
Cover of the 2nd ("New Definitive") edition of I Never Liked You
Creator Chester Brown
Date 1994
Page count
200 pages
Publisher Drawn and Quarterly
Original publication
Published in Yummy Fur
Issues 26–30
Date(s) of publication
October 1991 – April 1993
ISBN 978-0-969-67016-2 (1 ed)
978-1-896-59714-0 (2 ed)
Chronology
Preceded by The Playboy (1992)
Followed by The Little Man: Short Strips 1980-1995 (1998)

I Never Liked You is a 1994 graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown. The autobiographical book deals with Brown's introversion and difficulty talking to others, especially members of the opposite sex. Originally serialized as Fuck in issues #26–30 of Brown's comic book, Yummy Fur in 1991–1993, it appeared in book form by Drawn and Quarterly in 1994. Brown changed slightly rearranged the panels and replaced the original black backgrounds of the pages with white for an annotated "New Definitive Edition" in 2002.

Overview[edit]

The autobiographical story takes place during Brown's adolescence, growing up Châteauguay, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal in Canada.[1] Notably absent in the story are "the normal staples of teen life", such as sex and drugs, due to Brown's life being shaped by his strictly religious parents.[2]

Brown ("Chester" or "Chet" throughout the book) depicts his introversion and his difficulty talking to people. He is bullied by classmates,[1] and has trouble talking with girls, even though he is interested in them, and they express their interest in him. He constantly, and inexplicably, turns them away.

Chet's mother takes a hard line with him with regards to swearing.[3] As a result, he has a hard time bringing himself to use such language, a fact that is picked up by his classmates who tease him for it and repeatedly try to trick him into swearing. This was the source for the original title of the story (Fuck) when first serialized.

Except in his imagination, Chet also has difficulty expressing affection for his mother, who, suffering from schizophrenia, dies while in the hospital.[1]

Main Characters[edit]

Chester "Chet" Brown
Brown's depiction of himself as an awkward, introverted teenager; he is emotionally withdrawn and finds refuge in drawing.
Gordon Brown
Chet's younger and more well-adjusted brother.
Mrs. Brown
(1923–76)[4] Chet and Gordon's mother, who is suffering from schizophrenia and is eventually hospitalized and quickly ends up passing away. The story was originally called Fuck in reference to Brown's mother's hard stance against foul language.
The fact that his mother is schizophrenic is not made explicit in the book,[5] but Brown talks about it in his cartoon essay My Mother was a Schizophrenic, in which he takes an anti-psychiatric stance.
Sky
a buxom dark haired girl whom Chet falls in love with, but with whom he can't bring himself to admit he likes. She connects with Chet and tries to develop a relationship, but he is unable to deal with his feelings and turns her away.
Connie
a popular, pretty blonde girl who lives across the street from Chet's house.
Carrie
Connie's younger sister who transparently has a crush on Chet and "develops a possessive attitude toward him",[5] but whom Chester repeatedly tries to put off.

Style[edit]

The book is told in "scenes...[that pop] out of nowhere as a dreamlike series of pulses". Little setup or context is given to each scene in the book. "The effect is sometimes eerie, as here, despite the grounding of the story in mundane everyday stuff."[5]

Unlike Brown's previous graphic novel, The Playboy, he makes limited use of a narrator or narrator's voice in I Never Liked You. The story is told almost entirely through its pictures and sparse dialogue.[5] The page layouts are sparse, sometimes limited to a single, small panel on a page.[6] In the original serialization and first collected edition in 1994, the panels were placed on black backgrounds. Brown made the black backgrounds white in the 2002 edition.[5]

The artwork is drawn using a brush, and is amongst the simplest and sparsest in Brown's body of work. Nonetheless, there is quite a bit of hatching in the art. Brown had been paring down his style starting with the Playboy stories. He wasn't happy with his style, and was trying "to rebuild [his] style in a way that [he] would like," which he continued with I Never Liked You, where he was "trying to get even more pared down than The Playboy."[7]

Publishing History[edit]

The story was originally serialized as Fuck in Brown's Yummy Fur (issues #26-30) between October 1991 and April 1993.[1] The panels were much more crowded on the page in Yummy Fur than in the eventual collected edition, in issue #30 continuing from the cover and onto the page page.[clarification needed] When collected, Brown reformatted the panels on the pages, which resulted in a much higher page count, but the story was found to be more effective that way.

The story was the last of Brown's works from his much-acclaimed "autobio" period that started with the story Helder in Yummy Fur #19. Yummy Fur continued for two more issues before coming to an end as Brown started to publish Underwater under its own title.

When the story was originally collected in 1994 the pages were black behind all the panels, but when the new edition was released in 2002, the pages were changed to white. Asked why in 2007, Brown said, "I like austerity. The white background looks more austere to me."[8] A two-page appendix of notes was also included in this edition, a trend in Brown's work since My Mom was a Schizophrenic.[9]

In contrast with his earlier works, especially the highly improvised Ed the Happy Clown, Brown says that "[t]he[re] was very little improvisation in I Never Liked You. It was quite planned out, even if I didn’t write a full script."[8]

The book was dedicated to media personality Sook-Yin Lee, who was Brown's girlfriend from 1992 until 1996.

Reception[edit]

As one of "The autobiographical comics from Yummy Fur", I Never Liked You placed #38 on the prestigious Comics Journal's list of the 100 best comics of the century. I Never Liked You was also included in Stephen Weiner's book The 101 Best Graphic Novels.[10]

The book is admired by critics and many of Brown's fellow cartoonists. Gilbert Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame, has said, "The Playboy and I Never Liked You are probably the best graphic novels next to Maus".[11] Norwegian cartoonist Jason said, "[o]ne of my favorite autobiographical comics is I Never Liked You."[12]

Academic Charles Hatfield called the "hide with me"[13] page of I Never Liked You "[one] of my favorite comics pages."[5]

Foreign editions[edit]

Translations of I Never Liked You
Language Title Publisher Date Translator ISBN
Italian Non Mi Sei Mai Piaciuto[14] Black Velvet Editrice 1999 Omar Martini[15] 978-8-887-82700-2
French Je ne t'ai jamais aimé éditions Les 400 coups[16] 2001 978-2-845-96036-7
éditions Delcourt[17] 2010 Vincent Bernière 978-2-756-01449-4
Spanish Nunca me has gustado[18] Astiberri Ediciones 2007 978-8-496-81518-6
German Fuck[19] Reprodukt 2008 Torsten Alisch and Dirk Baranek
hand-lettered by Dirk Rehm
978-3-938-51196-1
Greek ΠΟΤΕ ΔΕΝ ΣΕ ΣΥΜΠΑΘΗΣΑ[20] Inkpress/Kormoranos 2010 Χάρης Λαγκούσης 978-9-608-96593-5
Korean 너 좋아한 적 없어 Sai Comics 2004 978-8-932-90583-9

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]

Bell, John (2006). Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55002-659-7. 
Brown, Chester (2002). I Never Liked You: The New Definitive Edition. Drawn and Quarterly. ISBN 978-1896597140. 
Juno, Andrea (1997). "Interview with Chester Brown". Dangerous Drawings. Juno Books, LLC. pp. 130–147. ISBN 0-9651042-8-1. 
Gravett, Paul. "Creator Profile: Chester Brown". paulgravett.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
Hatfield, Charles (2008-01-24). ""Hide with me": a page by Chester Brown (admired by CH)". Thought Balloonists. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
Heater, Brian (2009-06-23). "Interview: Jason Pt. 2 [of 2]". The Daily Crosshatch. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
Lefèvre, Pascal (2009). "The Construction of Space in Comics". In Heer, Jeet; Worcester, Kent. A Comics Studies Reader. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 157–162. ISBN 978-1-60473-109-5. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
Lefèvre, Pascal (2010). "I Never Liked You". In Booker, M. Keith. Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 313–314. ISBN 978-0-313-35748-0. 
Park, Ed (2011-05-02). "Text Appeal". Toronto Standard. Retrieved 2011-05-05.  Folloup at The Comics Journal, "Notes to a Note on the Notes of Chester Brown" part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5
Rogers, Sean (2011-05-09). "A John’s Gospel: The Chester Brown Interview". The Comics Journal.  part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.
Sim, Dave (October 2003). ""Getting Riel", part 1". Cerebus (Aardvark-Vanaheim) (295). Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
Thompson, Kim (February 2004). "Gilbert Hernandez interview". The Comics Journal (Fantagraphics Books) (158). 
Verstappen, Nicolas (August 2007). "Chester Brown". du9 - L'autre bande dessinée. Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
Weiner, Stephen (2001). DeCandido, Keith R.A., ed. The 101 Best Graphic Novels. NBM. ISBN 978-1-56163-444-6. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sullivan, Darcy. "The Four Letter Heart". The Comics Journal #172 (November 1994), pages 53–55

External links[edit]