Binky Brown meets The Holy Virgin Mary

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary cover

A lost classic of underground cartooning, Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin is the very first of two genres: the autobiographical graphic novel and a secular exposition of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Through his cartoon doppelganger Binky, Justin Green explores the relationship between sexual repression and the formation of homemade coping strategies which manifest as spectacular neurotic symptoms.

Occasionally sexually explicit, hilarious and provocative, with artwork that veers wildly between formalist and hallucinogenic, this work has been cited in many reference books as being a cornerstone of the Underground Cartooning genre.

We’ve reproduced this definitive edition by taking the actual original art from which the ‘72 Last Gasp newsprint comic was printed, and reproduced it exactly as-is, with all the ambient marks and corrections that were germane to the craft in that era. Green has also added an insightful and illustrated Afterword, which discusses the cultural context in which his magnus opus was created, as well as the recent medical advances that have revealed the biochemical origin of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The result is a collector-worthy volume lavishly produced as a hardback edition, with a Foreword by Art Spiegelman.

  • McSweeney’s, December 2009
  • ISBN 978-1934781555
  • 10.2″ x 14.1″, 64 pages, hardcover
  • $29 USD
  • Order online: Amazon
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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 1
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 2
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 3

Released the year before the first Artist’s Edition, McSweeney’s published a collection of original art in as near a perfect format as possible. Let’s look at its contents: beautiful hardcover, introduction by industry giant, clear scans of the original art, an extensive afterword by the cartoonist, acknowledgements. For $29.

The scans are clear and very well presented. All pages were stored together with one collector and they have aged very well: off white to mild yellowing. Correction fluid used throughout. Some paste-ups. No margin notes, but that’s normal for a cartoonist.

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 4
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 5
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 6

A well-designed book. The black textured cover with gold really stands out, and the pasted colour inset was a bold choice showing the growth of the original underground comic to this current edition. Excellent use of colour images through the afterword. The burgundy of the endpapers plays well in the titles throughout the ancillary material. A sewn binding of a medium matte paper. A nice finishing touch is the silk ribbon.

Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary checks all the boxes of what one wants in an AE format book. Most impressive is the $29 USD cover price; that’s a low cost for a lot of book, even in 2009.

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 7
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 8
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary interior 9

This book is listed on Wikipedia under Artist’s Editions, and I’ve had the opportunity to thumb it a few times. Quite simply, the underground “comix” content didn’t appeal to me, in fact, it completely turned me off the book, so I kept putting it back. Mention of it surfaced on the forum and I decided to order a copy and do my review. As I write at the beginning of every review, I’m reviewing the book and not the story.

Because I don’t know the size of the original art I’m categorizing this book as reduced original art and it will be listed in the Others or “Not An AE” Index. I searched online and found other Justin Green original art at 12″ x 16″ that was published shortly after this story.