| Jeremy Estes | August 21, 2012
PopMatters calls “Ed The Happy Clown” “demented, hilarious, disturbing.”
When looking for words to describe Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown, a few come easily: demented, hilarious, disturbing. There’s no question it’s a great work, a masterpiece of perversion, even, but that’s like saying the Beatles were a good band from the ‘60s. It may be true, but it barely scratches the surface. On its surface, Ed the Happy Clown showcases Brown’s development as a cartoonist both in visual and thematic terms. The typical Brown themes of religious fervor and a preoccupation with sex are featured throughout, but the evolution of Brown’s art is the bigger draw here. The story was published over the course of six years, a time when Brown went from being a talented amateur to a professional cartoonist, and in that time his style evened out, became more deliberate. In recent years his work has become more static, almost careful, as in 2011’s Paying for It, an account of Brown’s encounters with prostitutes and an argument for the legalization and regulation of the world’s oldest profession. That the book was confessional is nothing new for Brown, but its subject drew as much ogling as the art did.