cover image Child Star

Child Star

Brian “Box” Brown. First Second, $19.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-15407-1

Brown (André the Giant) made a reputation for offbeat and accessible graphic nonfiction, but in this savvy graphic satire, he shows an equally sure hand at fiction. The tragicomic narrative follows Owen Eugene, a 1980s child star who who may remind readers of real-life actors Gary Coleman and Ricky Schroder. Appearing younger than his age due to a congenital disorder, Eugene becomes a sitcom superstar playing a kid with a sassy catchphrase, and his life goes downhill from there—from having his face plastered on lunch boxes to struggling to land ironic TV cameos, and separating from his exploitative parents along the way. The book’s mockumentary format pieces his saga together from the testimonies of supporting actors in his life: directors, costars, estranged family members, his pro-basketball-player buddy. But Eugene, who never gets to speak for himself except in media clips, remains an enigma. Brown works in such elements as Eugene’s bizarre Saturday morning cartoon, his sitcom’s slew of very special episodes, and his descent into desperation. The blocky art moves the narrative along at an enjoyable clip, and it’s appropriate that Eugene, irresistible to TV-land fans, often looks lumpy and off-putting. This in-the-know skewering of celebrity and pop culture will entertain children of the ’80s as well as their own children. (June)