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(The Girlfriend Trilogy #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  5,065 ratings  ·  320 reviews
Clumsy is Jeffrey Brown's debut work
Clumsy is the bittersweet story of a year long, long distance relationship, told through snippets of everyday life, drawn in a simple and elegantly awkward style that heightens the emotional impact and leaves you reminiscing about your own past love affairs. Oh, and it also has a lot of sex.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 4th 2003 by Top Shelf Productions (first published 2002)
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Showing 1-30
3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,065 ratings  ·  320 reviews

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Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book should come with the warning: Read this only if you have a lover and he/she is lying beside you (preferably holding you) or else you will feel like a tragic loser whose heart has just broken (again).
Paul Bryant
Oct 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
Yet more evidence that I have a heart of stone. The drawings are supposed to be movingly naive, but in fact they're just crap.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Jeffrey Brown's crude artistic style is certainly an acquired taste, and many may not get past his drawings. However, those willing to delve into his comics will find that his style coincides nicely with the intensely personal nature of his stories. Brown, in both his art and his writing, not only brings himself to a level at which the reader can relate to him (or even, perhaps, look down on him), but uses his unique storytelling style to offer what seems like a completely honest and exposed acc ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Story about a couple who have sex. And more sex. And then some more sex. Sex in the shower. Sex at the beach. They have sex everywhere and all the time. It lost its novelty almost from the beginning. There is only so much sex you can see, especially when the illustrations suck and the two people involved could both use a good wax job. Both are too clingy and emotionally needy of each other. If you're looking for plot, there's not much of one. If you're looking for sex scenes, there's an overload ...more
Kane S.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Fuck. This. Book.


This is a godawful piece of shit.

With a glowing blurb on the back cover, written by the great Chris Ware, I expected something at least worth reading. But it's not. It is actually a waste of time.

I hate the style in which this is drawn. It is... unpleasant. It looks like a particularly untalented toddler drew it. And, if that added anything to the story, I would appreciate it. But it doesn't add anything. In fact, when you can see that Brown has made a mistake and, ins
Jul 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Truly a horrible experience.

As an avid connoisseur of all things comics, I can safely state that this is one of the worst comics I've ever read. I would only recommend it to people as an example of how to make the most atrocious book ever created.

The art is poor and is uninteresting to look at. It doesn't even strike me as "intentionally lousy", but rather a series of sketches that had no effort put into it.
*minor spoilers*
Story-wise, it is also completely unengaging and cringe-worthy. It's a sa
Lee Razer
May 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
If there's High Church and Low Church for the graphics half of graphic novels, this book is the leaky shack of the First Antioch Free Will Baptist Church in BFE, Alabama. That's fine by me, I'm in this genre for the novel half, and I think I tend Low Church anyway.

The subject matter drew me in to reading this, as I enjoy reading about blossoming relationships going bad and sad, as one does. Melancholic Low Church then, sounds promising. But it's all really banal, there's little evidence of any
Jan 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Polarized between trite and pervy, this cartoon failed to touch on anything in between. It holds very little value outside of the prurient interest of cartoon figures fucking. Here, simple is no more than stupid.
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chris Ware
I liked this book. The ending make me feel emotional.

A nice, calm book.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The Chicago Public Library recently entered a partnership with online content provider Hoopla, which among other things means I suddenly have access to thousands of old comic books I've never read before, including most of the back catalog of Top Shelf, Dark Horse and Boom! Studios. And this also includes
Callie Rose Tyler
Feb 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-give-up, comics
I just don't get it. Terribly drawn, terribly boring, terribly repetitive.

Take your long distance love story and shove it. I could not care less.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: art
I stopped reading after approximately the first thirty pages. Maybe I am not the proper audience for this kind of comics (although I should be able to connect because of the topic of long distance relationships), but the personal story did not catch me and the comics, while basically the same cute as some others (like for example Sarah Andersen's work), they did not seem that well paced (or maybe it was something else, but they just did not feel right).
Jules Waack
Mar 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bad-literature
I didn't rate this so low because of the naive drawing style. There are great examples of artists who started out with similar styles who manage to be funny, insightful and touching (Julia Wertz comes to mind, even though by now her drawing style is far from naive).
But "Clumsy" is just crude, the humor seems really outdated and at least for me the whole sex scenes were like schoolboy fantasies instead of meaningful glimpses into relationships. I felt embarrassed reading it because it's TMI all
Sep 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Better than Brown's other sex obsessed story, Unlikely, I still couldn't shake the feeling that I'd want to break up with this guy at about, I dunno, page 15?

This should be required reading for most 14 year old boys as a primer on how NOT to act in a relationship: needy, clingy, mopey, passive-aggressive, co-dependent, Clumsy? Now I get it. I understand this is the story of his second relationship, but there's no insight that maturity might bring to some of the cringe worthy behavior. A little h
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not dreadful. Maybe Brown has given us an accurate picture of young love. It reminded me quite a bit of my own first serious "relationship." Even so, i was not entertained in any way except for a couple vignettes that were surprisingly sexy despite their surface ugliness. I can't appreciate the drawings until somebody teaches me how. A cover blurb by Robert Kochalka (i think) says something like the frailty of Brown's lines perfectly represents the frailty of love. I would say instead that the e ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The illustrations are by no means beautiful in the traditional sense, but beautiful because they are so artless and lack technique (or maybe that is his technique), which was deliberate, and it adds to the charm and authenticity of the book. I was amused, I felt awkward (Jeffrey Brown doesn't shy away from drawing unattractive people doing unattractive things; hairy legs, flabby middles and all). His honesty is very brave, and I enjoyed this book a lot. I would've laughed if I weren't at the boo ...more
A bit more than 200 hundred pages detailing a relationship in all its bland, trite drama. He has low selfesteem and is a pathetic worm, and she has slightly higher selfesteem and eventually frees herself from his clammy wormy wrap, hence the extent of the drama. The scenes intend to caress the heart's emotion bone came off as vapid sentimentality, so obvious that the flutter in the chest bespoke disgust rather than sympathy. And while Brown's style is intentionally crude, I cannot help but see a ...more
Wes Young
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
What started out as really cute turned into a nightmarishly whiny and complainy bitch-fest! Yes, even I could sympathize or even see myself in some of the stories herein (granted it was a much younger me that was so needy and worrisome); and yet, even I was never as bad as Brown seems to have been. And Theresa, his girlfriend through the book, isn't without blame herself - putting up with his shit and also adding a bit of her own selfishness from time to time. Such is life, I suppose.
Ana  Lourenço
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Well, this was bad. Honestly.
Besides not liking the art style, the story made no sense. And it had no apparent order.

Just to clarify, it gets 2 stars and not only 1 because Jeff is, overall, a nice character. I actually felt sorry for him. But that's it in terms of emotions.

And by the way, one of the high points of this was when I misread "the placemat" as "the placenta".
I think that speaks for it.
Bianca Bancroft
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
It was confusing at first with all of the jumping around, but as soon as you get to know Jeff and Theresa you'll understand their little love story. If I could rename the novel I'd call it Distance or Far not Clumsy. I didn't feel like anyone was clumsy, but they were cute and honest and I guess I rooted for them.
Sooraya Evans
Jun 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
Overall crappy. Terrible, terrible drawing.
How did this get printed in the first place?
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Alex
Clumsy is a VERY cute graphic novel depicting short little segments of moments of a new relationship between Theresa and Jeff. The idea of this book reminded me a lot of Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd or Soppy by Philippa Rice. And I loved both of those books! The only thing I didn't like so much about this one is that I thought because the drawings were more sketch like drawings, and his handwriting was kind of chicken scratchy lol, it was kind of hard to read. Sometimes I never ende ...more
Matti Karjalainen
Jeffrey Brownin omaelämäkerrallinen ihmissuhdesarjakuva oli parempi kuin muistelin.
May 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
"Clumsy" is the perfect title for this book for several reasons.

For one, it's clumsily written. I guess it's supposed to be autobiographical, but it's repetitive and banal. The scenes fall into exactly three categories: a) Jeff is a sad, mopey crybaby who, as an adult, can't stand to be alone for the length of a TV show. b) Theresa doesn't want to do something Jeff wants to do because she's nauseous 24/7. c) Jeff and Theresa have dull, white-bread sex, then Theresa feels sick and Jeff starts cr
David C
Dec 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
I usually like Jeffrey Brown's books, but I found this one to be rather uninspiring. The relationship described in the book seems quite terrible. I suppose there is something to be said for it as an expression of the artist's experience, but it seemed rather sad and pathetic, and not in the way that "makes you think". The characters seem very two dimensional, even though it's actually autobiographical.

I suppose that might say something about the relationship and the people involved in it though
Dec 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
1. I would hardly describe Brown's drawing style as "simple and elegantly awkward." 'Messy and incredibly lazy' is a more fitting description.

2. Brown's handwriting is absolutely atrocious. I would sometimes have to re-read things three or four times before fully understanding the dialogue.

3. There's no structure to the string of events that ultimately leads to Jeff & Theresa's breakup.

4. I would hardly call this a story of love - the whole thing is one sided and lacks any sort of emotional
Ryan Werner
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics, indie-lit
This is pretty much a diary without the incognizant revelation. Lots of tiny scenes depicting a young couple having such a true-to-life relationship that there's no real narrative or development. They go out to eat and have sex and can't sleep and on and on.

The characters are so one-dimensional that their eventual, hard-telegraphed breakup left me feeling cold, like they were strangers. Jeff is kind of a normal sad boy and Theresa is just a fairly standard girl. That's about all we get. Their r
Jun 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
I think it would have taken a fair amount of courage to create this, there is so much honesty as Jeffrey reveals the love, pain and joy he shares with his girlfriend Theresa. No details are spared in the small book and it shows the good and the bad. This can be annoying at times as Jeffrey's insecurities and neediness gets frustrating. Because Jeffrey does this you know he has created a story true to himself and this where you appreciate and enjoy Clumsy, knowing that it has come from deep insid ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Clumsy is baldly intimate in a way that should be embarassing, but somehow isn't. It's the autobiographical story of a long-distance relationship, told in comic-style vignettes. Brown's artwork is both crude and nuanced; sometimes his drawings are barely better than stick figures, but their body language and faces are expressive nonetheless. He captures the bittersweetness of a failed relationship perfectly; I think everyone who reads this book finds something in it that is intensely familiar.
C.J. Cummings
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book about the beginning, middle and end of a relationship. The crudely drawn style of Jeff Brown's work is obviously not for everyone, but I liked it in the setting of the tale being told. An autobiographical account of falling in love, learning the ins and outs of the person you're with, and then things crumbling. It's emotional and funny at times, while also touching on very real moments. Polarizing stuff, but I liked it.
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Jeffrey Brown was born in 1975 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and grew up reading comic books with dreams of someday drawing them, only to abandon them and focus on becoming a 'fine artist.' While earning his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Brown abandoned painting and began drawing comics with his first autobiographical book 'Clumsy' in 2001. Since then he's drawn a dozen books fo ...more

Other books in the series

The Girlfriend Trilogy (3 books)
  • Unlikely
  • AEIOU: Any Easy Intimacy
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“-Here's a pretty shell for you.

-Oh, thank you my baby.

-Look, here's another one!

-Thank you.

-Look at this pretty one!

-Thank you.

-Here's a REALLY pretty one.

-Um, thank you.

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