January 22, 2013

Review -- SOCK by Box Brown

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

(Box Brown; Retrofit)

Box Brown calls Sock a "mini-comic about a guy who is his own worst enemy."  Basically, it's about an unnamed protagonist who careens through a house party getting more and more loaded on a variety of psychoactive substances. That's about it. Not much in terms of  theme or action or gravitas, and yet, somehow, Brown is able to take this simple story and relate it to the basic human condition. 
The hero of Sock is an everyman, desperate for approval, desperate to connect, desperate to transcend mundanity via the only vehicles available to him: beer, blow, boobs, and weed. There is a journey/quest motif at the heart of this comic, but it is ultimately upended by both the hero's hubris and one too many 40s.
This is a low tale that drunkenly teeters on the edge of high art. The first panel of this book has the main character punching himself hard in his own face (with an onomatopoetic SOCK which gives this book its title), a moment fraught with characterization and an indication of the thematic journey Brown wants to lead you on. From his conversations with his friend Fucknuts, to his quest to "hook-up" with a tattooed girl nicknamed Breastica, to his need for "another toot," the hero of Sock demonstrates his unwavering sense that he is better than the sum of his parts, and that he expects something more than the world he inhabits.

But like we all do sometimes, he oversteps. The one act of kindness in this book comes from an unlikely character who stands out from the crowd by nature of his sobriety, a character obsessed with the heroic deeds of the likes of Hulk Hogan, Million Dollar Man, and other professional wrestlers -- entertainment on the grand scale of Wrestlemania. This character, who inhabits a world outside the outsiders, is the only one who gives the hero a lift at the end.
In its 20 pages of black and white panels, the pacing of Sock echoes the descent inherent in those kind of parties where you get on a roll and can't help but gain the momentum of each new beer you drink or line you snort or blunt you burn. Eventually, you are going to come down hard, be filled with some regrets, and have trouble recalling all the events of the night. But sometimes it's the human touch that keep us coming back for more.
You can buy Sock from the Retrofit store.

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