My Brain is Hanging Upside Down
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My Brain is Hanging Upside Down

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  48 reviews
One of the most promising young talents in cartooning makes his debut with a dazzling collection—part freakish dreamlife, part quirk-o-rama autobiography, all genius.

Long a fixture in comics anthologies, David Heatley's deceptively crude, wickedly observant drawings have begun showing up on the New York Times op-ed pages and the cover of the New Yorker, introducing him to...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Pantheon
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(showing 1-30 of 674)
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Dave-O
Heatley's decision to write and draw stories from his life without the veil of privacy is a fairly daring one. The subject of Heatley's comics are what other writers and artists might shy away from or skirt around through their whole careers. His most famous work "Sex History" is a chronicle of every sexual experience, though the version of that work that appears here is censored and includes a one-page addendum (to let us know that he is in fact not bisexual and that he has thrown out his dildo...more
Jeremy
Do you like comic-book memoirs? The sweetly conflicted adolescent remembrances of Craig Thompson and Chester Brown? The insistence on exposing ones least attractive habits and behaviors that drives the work of Joe Matt? The gawky innocence and heartbreak conveyed by the out-of-control doodles populating the world of Lynda Barry? The absurdist suburban nightmares of Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns? The dense pages and bright melancholy of Chris Ware? The brilliant hindsight of Alison Bechdel? The...more
Malbadeen
Nov 18, 2008 Malbadeen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nosey people
Recommended to Malbadeen by: Sarah Montambo by way of Jeremy Stover
Holy schmigarolly! My Brain is "hanging upside down" after reading this too, as are my heart and just about every other major organ.
It's pretty amazing how detailed and seemingly honest Heatley is in depicting his life.
As I said in a comment before, this book was hard to read and hard to stop reading.
I realize I can be a little too glib at times about difficulties but I find it strange that people can face their childhoods without providing them/us with any comic relief.
I can't even say whether...more
Ben Cheng
This tell-all comic is absolutely shameless. Right from the get-go we see the author have his very first homosexual experience, and things just get better and better from there. David Heatley clearly isn't embarassed whatsoever, and probably has taken a page from Joe Matt or Chester Brown in delving so intimately into his sex life, literally detailing and recording every single encounter, pretty much to the point where it becomes redundant and often meaningless. Although fascinating to see someo...more
Ron
Heatley's "graphic memoir" is broken up into five sections, most of which begin with short, surrealistic dreams that lead into intense narratives recounting his sexual history, his encounters with black people, his relationships with his mother and father, and his family tree. These sections are broken down into 6x8 grids which, even in the book's oversize format, can be hard to read for long stretches... and that's even before getting into the actual details of those stories. (When Heatley says...more
Will
This graphic memoir is filled to the brim with a ton of tiny crude strips chronicaling the cartoonist's life from birth 'til now. The first section was my favorite - "Sex History". He's vulnerable, exploitative, and extremely frank as he goes over every minute detail of every sexual experience he has ever been a part of. It's really interesting to actually see comics of kids fumbling around figuring out the birds and the bees. The scenes are pretty explicit, but really engaging in that they are...more
Lars Guthrie
There are reasons not to like this memoirish collection of comic-strip vignettes commemorating events and dreams from Heatley's life. The drawings look simplistic and crude. Its frankly dead-pan confessional tone is disarming and even initially off-putting. It turns out that the illustrative rawness is a perfect match to the realness of the content, and Heatley's fearless examination of his own neuroses, prejudices and failings are liberating and empathetic. He divides this examination thematica...more
Michael
http://bentspine.blogspot.com/2011/02...

The first of David Heatley’s stories I read was part of an anthology published about four or five years ago. I can’t remember if it was one of those Best American Comics books or the hardbound issue of McSweeney’s filled with indie comics. One thing I do remember is what the story was about. In a few sloppy panels, Heatley told about living with his father after college, sitting on the toilet and wondering what it looks like when he wipes his ass after poo...more
Brett Von Schlosser
my sexual history was a very funny comic the first time I read it. here it's reprinted for the billionth time and he's decided to censor it and add a new ending that changes the tone and to me ruins the comic. his black history comic, an attempt to document every black person he's ever met, is printed for the first time here. it seems to be trying to recreate that kind of insane self exposure of "my sexual hstory". but it just comes off as very presumptuous. drawing himself as a ewwtsy cutesy li...more
Joanna
Brilliant. Heatley leaves no awkward moment undocumented in his memoir, which is bitter-sweet, excruciating and hilarious in equal measures. I found his brutal honesty refreshing, rather than reactionary, as other reviews have stated. The only thing that stopped me from giving this book five out of five were the dream sequences at the beginning of each chapter, which I found annoying. C'mon, Heatley - no-one is interested in other people's dreams (although other people's drug experiences can som...more
Dave
Look, just because something happened to you doesn't mean you should tell me about it. Just because you had a dream about black girls being mean to you doesn't mean you should tell me about it. Nothing wrong with personal life. That's O.K. But if you pissed on the campers while they were sleeping in their bunks, you might decide to write about it. But have it go somewhere. Don't tell me about it for the sake of being honest, and especially don't try to make me think that I need to be shocked out...more
Jeremy Good
Candid and meticulous, sparing virtually nobody including himself (shamelessly exposing friends and family), this book was touching and hilarious, had me laughing out loud many times at the faithful depiction of life's many absurd moments. So many finely wrought moments and some life lessons about the value of human tenderness and the peculiar, unexpected nature of humor. The author finds it therapeutic to revisit moments of his past that are often taboo and dreadful, moments many of us recall o...more
Whatsupchuck
Heatly does away with privacy and gives the reader his life, fully exposed and broken into sections including Sex, Race, and Family.

The Sex section chronicles every sexual experience he's ever had (and there are many). The panels are simultaneously censored and graphic showing every detail, but blocking out the 'bits and pieces' with little pink bars.

The Race section reviews every interaction he's had with black people.

The family section covers his mother, father, and a bit of genealogical histo...more
David Schaafsma
Heatley is in a group of folks like Jeffrey Brown and others who went to art school and deliberately draw against what the art school traditionally represents... in other words, anti-high art, simple, almost childish representations visually... and in story, too. These are typically tiny drawings, 100 to a page, and they are divided into autobiographical sections, like sexual history, racial history, mom, dad, etc and Heatley tells you EVERYTHING about his encounters with these people, no matter...more
D'Anne
Jan 28, 2014 D'Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Chris Ware and Lynda Barry
It took me way too long to read this, but it is not the book's fault. Fans of Chris Ware and Lynda Barry should definitely read this. I don't know of any comic artist so raw and honest about the most intimate details of his life. Heatley frankly addresses his sexual experiences with both women and men. Also, the Black History section is probably the most honest (and detailed) account of a white guy wrestling with his desire to not be racist, and yet painfully aware of how hard it is for him. It'...more
Mark Glover
I got this for 4 pounds at a book sale and it was money well spent, Heatley's memoir/comic is hilarious, cringeworthy and everything you would expect from someone detailing their life, sexual experiences and prepubescent self. People often go on about this or that comic being the 'War and Peace' of comic books(please Watchmen get over yourself). While this does as noted get a bit repetitive in parts it is the only comic book as such that I can relate back to as a work a novel(though hold my hand...more
Jennie
The author blurb tells me this is David's first book so I'll be easy on him as it requests. The cover calls it a graphic memoir and that is one way to describe it. There is some illustrated nudity with small pink sticky note pieces obscuring the important bits. I found the panels to be very crowded and the writing very small and hard to read. The first chapter about his confusing yet active sex life bored me to sleep. It was a long journey. There are dream/nightmare like short stories that reall...more
MariNaomi
So dense and revealing, this book took me for a ride. I loved it.
Amar Pai
He's been in a lot of orgies, relatively speaking

Not a bad memoir but seriously, enough with the white boys who go to art school, have awkward sexual experiences, get married and have kids. It's such a tiny slice of the human experience pie! Can we PLEASE get more graphic memoris from anybody who's not a white boy who went to art school etc etc as above?

Stuck Rubber Baby was a start... I'd recommend trying that one

I did like how Heatley listed every black friend he's ever had... he's had a lot...more
Will
Intense! The pages are packed with grids of tiny little comic frames. The autobiographical subject matter- a record of all the black people he's known, his sexual history and his awkward relationships with his parents - is brutally honesty but feels true and familiar - makes you think of R. Crumb in it's frankness - but it's not a creepy and depressing read - it's actually pretty funny throughout - maybe because Heatley is sincere and actually likes people and the world- the opposite of the misa...more
Meg Powers
Jan 29, 2010 Meg Powers added it
Shelves: comics
I really, really like David Heatley. I think his illustrative style is beautiful;his caricatures are endearing,his panel composition is quick and engaging, and he uses a LOT of color.
I have friends who feel lukewarmly towards David Heatley, which I just don't get. His autobiographical comics hilarious, sympathetic, and brutally honest;they don't spare any mortifying details,yet he never comes across as a self-pitying nebbish. Thank goodness!

Recommended for fans of Lynda Barry, Aline Kominsky, a...more
Justin
Dec 07, 2011 Justin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Self-indulgent but incredibly honest. At first, I really liked this collection, but as I read on, I grew increasingly annoyed with Heatley. By the end, the elements of his comics that I initially found endearing seemed contrived and obnoxious (stop crying, already). The "slice of life" narratives became simply pointless. When is it ever interesting to read about someone else's dreams or family histories? Very rarely. The artwork is completely banal and uninspired as well. I do not want to be fri...more
Andrew
My favorite comic of 2008. Heatley just kind of came out of nowhere and killed it. His style reminds me most of Joe Matt, with a bit of Kevin Huizenga in there. Heatley puts everything out there to the point of turning oversharing into an artform; there's brutally honest and then there's this, no pathos but pure gut-busting hilarity, hitting too close for comfort on almost every page. Every neurosis, every sexual/racial/familial wart and blunder is laid bare. Awesome.
Sarah Laing
Woah, this book was pretty overwhelmingly over-disclosing. But good, in a very intense way. I feel like I know how boys really think now (see the 'Sex History' section). But I'm probably fooling myself. I just know how David Heatley thinks. Actually I probably don't even know that, since it was all a bit much for me and I had to keep skipping forward to the section on his mom and dad. The artwork was felt a little like outsider art - naive and highly detailed.
Meghan
Confessional autobiography divided up into six sections: Sex, Race, Mother, Father, Family History, ... and I forget one other. Tiny square panels. Reminds me of Joe Matt, occassionally gets into the self-reflexiveness of him writing comics about himself, and what if it's too personal, what if his kid reads it, etc. He artfully skips over any graphic details about him and his wife in the Sex section, but chronicles every other sexual experience he's ever had.
Danimal
So great! With amazing detail, this cartoonist chronicles his entire sexlife, his entire experience with black people, his family history, and (most amusingly) his prickly relationship with his parents. The early stories aren't beautifully drawn or that funny, but taken altogether they have the power of a steamroller. I couldn't put it down.

It helps that he's so daring, able to make himself (or his poor family) look foolish. Great stuff!
Kristy
An unshielded graphic memoir that covers the author's sex life, every black person he's ever known, his mother, his father, and his family tree up to and including the birth of his two children. The combination of unfussy drawings and small panels gives an immediacy to his narrative, and the lush color spreads illustrating his dreams are icing on the cake. This was an impulse read from the library, and I'm so glad I grabbed it!
Anina
The master of the quirky short autobiographical sketch. I had seen the section on his father in some collection and loved it. The one about his mother is awesome as well, and the one about his family history and wife are sweet. The ones I liked the least were the section on his sex life and the one on his experiences with racism, call me grandma but they just weren't as humorous.
Isa
I have a serious problem with anyone who uses the the same expression to describe both orgasms and childbirth.

Heatley's attitudes about sex, race, and his family, which he draws and describes ad nauseam under the guise of honesty and artistic license, should be called out for what they really are: narcissistic, exploitative, and disrespectful.
Maureen
For a graphic novel, reading this was tedious as hell- and it only took 2 days. I think that's because he stuck to a really rigorous panel structure throughout most of it, though. It felt forced and the dream sequences were a serious snooze. I did like the way the author segmented memories into various categories, though. Just not my cup of tea.
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