I don’t think buying “The Nao of Brown” could be considered an impulse buy in my case. I’d rather describe it as “love at first sight and damn this is so beautiful I gotta have this”. Of course I had not planned on doing that. I had heard of Glyn Dillon’s comic before. I listened to a great interview with him on Inkstuds and I had seen some of the art. It had looked quite gorgeous indeed. I think I had expected something rather small, Something manga sized or something in the way of a standard TPB. Turns out “The Nao of Brown” is a somewhat oversized hardcover.
And when I saw it I knew I’d buy it eventually. I walked on without it at first, to look at the bargain bin and discover some issues of “The Comics Journal”. I promptly grabbed two of them, one because I like Best of lists even when they are from 2008 and the other because it promised a huge interview with Brian K. Vaughan who I think of as a hugely interesting person.
On the way to the cashier I walked by the Nao again and knowing that I couldn’t go without it I looked through it once more and then took it to the cashier.
I read it in one sitting. Händels Watermusic fit almost perfectly with the time it took me to read it. I didn’t get up in the process, even though my back started to hurt after a while. I like slice of life stories quite a bit. Yotsuba is amazing even though it is very different from Dillans work. But slice of life nonetheless. The Nao of Brown survives without a hugely dramatic conflict and still managed to grab me through characters alone.
Nao suffers from OCD, more exactly from violent morbid obsessions that make her want to kill people around her. She hides pens from herself and needs to remind herself constantly that she is a good person, that she is loved and that she doesn’t really want to kill anyone even though the feelings never leave her mind completely.
The Nao of Brown is a look into her life. We see almost all the aspects of it and we learn to like this petite woman with a liking for read and vinyl toys. We meet a washing machine repair man who she will kind of fall in love with and an old childhood friend of hers who’s unrequited love caused some sadness in me. I feel like this is it. There was somewhat of a peak in the story, but it felt too short to really have an impact. I came to accept the book for what it was after it left me hanging in the air for a bit. I felt like the real moments, the stuff that would cause characters to change and to evolve was kind of left out. But then again, all the things we see laid the groundwork for that to happened so my complaints are of minor concern. It is a round and well thought out story that could have excelled with a tiny bit of clarity in the end. I guess that leaving out that particular bit and skipping ahead makes it all better. Too much exposition can’t be good either I tell myself as I wonder what happened during the time skip. At this point I realize that the story must have succeeded in making me care about it.
What makes the book so easy to read and Nao so lovable is in huge parts the art. This is hands down the prettiest book I have seen this year. The water colors are amazing and the whole book is just a feast for the eyes. I haven’t seen much of Glyn Dillons work before this, but with this he must have outdone himself.
The Nao of Brown should be available wherever good comics are sold and you should be able to order it in these places as well. As always, support your local comic store! It will be yours for the price of $25+tax and comes in a hardcover format. Published by Self Made Hero this is one god damn beautiful and thoughtful book.