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Mat Brinkman Bibliography
posted September 30, 2003

You're in luck: a healthy portion of Mat Brinkman's published output has just become easy to own. You can cradle Brinkman in your hands through the purchase of Teratoid Heights, the Summer 2003 collection from Highwater Books ($12.95, 0-966536320). That volume contains the bulk of Brinkman's best comic book stories to date, many of which had previously been published as stand-alone comics like Oaf. It's only because the last five years has seen many readers become accustomed to comics of this type, including several directly influenced by Brinkman, that the near-impenetrable beauty of Brinkman's collection seems less shocking and more like another really, really interesting book. Yet even seen through relaxed eyes the stories remain primal and fearsome, like taking in a night of spoken word performance delivered entirely in proto-world. If Teratoid Heights isn't the best collection of the year, it is certainly one of the most singular bookstore-ready debuts of the last twenty years. Every mini-comic serving as a component work of this major release is also recommended. Each is an exquisite art object. Good luck finding them, though.

The work that seems destined to make Teratoid Heights look like a tentative first novel is Brinkman's current Multi-Force serial in the pages of Paper Rodeo. It's hard to describe the difference between the stuff collected in Teratoid Heights and the current work except to note that the stories are presented in a vastly more complex and intricate fashion. The world of Multi-Force is incredibly textured and detailed, the artist uses language and humor in a variety of new ways, and the narrative references a wider array of adventure stories. It's really a straight-up fantasy, but one without any of the hackneyed moral considerations or adherence to presentational tropes that pollute what should be a natural fit of genre and form. It's a story about another world that looks like it was made on another world. Many will find it completely incomprehensible, but I can't stop staring at it. Issues of Paper Rodeo featuring the serial are on sale for $1 each from PO Box 321, Providence, RI 02901. Sometimes Highwater Books and Million Year Picnic will have groups of them for sale as well.

Sammy Harkham smartly made Brinkman the cover artist for his massive, impressive Kramer's Ergot #4 (Avodah Books, $24.95, 0967709057), and the picture of two figures fighting on a rainbow couldn't be more arresting. Better yet, inside the book there are several pages from Brinkman's sketchbooks, some of which break down his oft-elaborate drawings into a few lines and change. Brinkman also did the section illustrations for 2002's scarily big and well-designed anthology, Non #5 (Reddingk), now out of print. To see Brinkman work in a less formidable context, the best of the Small Press Expo anthologies, the one published for the year 2000, features a Brinkman short story. Another place to see Brinkman work is the old-fashioned arts magazine Yeti #2 (Try Nobrow at PO Box 3061 Seattle WA 98114 or Seattle's Confounded Books; I think it cost $8.95, but I'm not sure). You need Teratoid Heights; you want the Multi-Force serial; and your life will be made slightly better by the accumulation Brinkman's mini-comics and anthology appearances.

Done for the Comics Journal's Fort Thunder issue.