Thursday, 16 April 2015

THE CLIFF Book 4 REVIEW #3 - Friendship, Money and Corruption - by Heather South

I am delighted that designer and co-founder of at least one bar, Ms. Heather South has agreed to write the third official review of next book in my graphic novel... about herself, Heather writes:
Heather South is seeking new life forms. For all inquiries, please contact:

The Cliff 4 - Heart of Brightness
Matt Brown
REVIEW - 5/5 penguins
Poopsie the Penguin is back in business. 
We find our penguin-Columbo reluctantly traveling back to Varanasi, India, with his green assistant, Mutt Blue (recently escaped from his own oppressive homeland), to reunite with an old acquaintance, Honky the Pig, in order to solve the murder of a local billionaire. 
In this suspenseful puzzle, Poopsie is reluctantly reunited with his infamous past and all are forced to confront their futures.

Well-written, the story presents itself easily to new readers, though seasoned readers may yearn for Matt's more perverse, abstract humour found in earlier comics.

Perverse, abstract humor from Matthew Brown's
younger days (available in the FEAR ITSELF collection

Illustrated with a fresh layout and seeming simplicity in the drawings, artist Matt Brown's archetypal India ink line has developed intricate beauty. 
Brown unravels an intricate mystery out of the maze of an ancient city and 
of the relationships between these characters and the truths of friendship, money and corruption.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

THE CLIFF Book 4 REVIEW #2 - A Single Disastrous Paw! - by Janet Glasspool

I am delighted that Mrs. Janet Glasspool, former Director of Education for Bluewater District School Board, Ontario and Executive Consultant of her own educational administration and governance consulting company, has agreed to provide THE CLIFF, Book 4: "Heart of Brightness" Review #2!  Her insights and commentary are very much valued!

Review of The Cliff, Book 4: The Heart of Brightness
-        by Matthew Brown

The Cliff, Book 4 is a graphic novel with wide appeal on many different levels.

The lively plot is immediately engaging. Mei Mei Castiglione asks private detective Poopsie the Penguin to solve the murder of Carlos Brown. (A prologue reveals Carlos, looking very much like Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame, getting struck down in a single, disastrous “Paw!”)  Mei Mei says that the murder of Carlos took place in Varanasi, India. Poopsie travels to the famous holy place, and Mutt Blue (looking very much like author Matthew Brown) appears on the scene. They pursue a rumour that Linux Fan Belt, a former business partner of Carlos Brown’s, may have killed Carlos after hearing that Carlos named his beagle, Snooty, as the beneficiary of his will. And here the adventure begins…during which Mutt Blue learns more than he wants to about his own family history.

Readers will love the wry comments embedded throughout the text. Honky, the pig explains: “I don’t really believe in reincarnation. Most of the people I kill stay dead.”

The meticulously referenced “scholarly” quotations are a hugely entertaining feature of all the Cliff books. Here is one—a delicious parodic mashup of Hollywood crime drama “tough talk” and a life coach’s would-be inspirational message: “ ‘Varanasi is a tough city. Tough on the nose, tough on the bowels, tough on the heart. It incinerates you, then smears your ashes on the forehead of some idol… but nowhere else have I ever felt such love, such clarity, such itchiness.’ - Poopsie the Penguin, Get me the Ice Cream and Shut Up: Secrets to Insecure Management, 346 BCE.”

For me, the greatest source of enjoyment is the beautiful visual art in The Cliff.  Matthew Brown’s drawings in black ink are amazing—suggestive to me of the work of Art Nouveau graphic illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley (Salomé and John, 1892; The Climax, 1893; the cover design for The Yellow Book, 1894).

Aubrey Beardsley - from "Salomé"

Most pages in The Cliff Book 4 contain multiple panels, sometimes on the diagonal or in circles. The composition of the pages impacts on the action, and is remarkably diverse from page to page.  The images are well-balanced. One page with 12 separate panels places tiles of Mei Mei’s round, big-eyed, white head in strategic opposition to Poopsie’s sleek, black, white-beaked pate.

Other pages contain only a few intricate images. There are wonderful drawings of Mutt Blue having a sleepless night. The images of Varanasi are most evocative and reveal the artist’s study of architectural design. The narrow lanes and high walls, the overhead views of street scenes and the waterfront, and the mansion owned by Linux Fan Belt, could all stand alone, framed and hung in a gallery. There is a full-page, haunting, perspective drawing of Mutt Blue descending outdoor steps between buildings in Varanasi. This is a book to savour over and over again.

Janet Glasspool
April 7, 2015

Monday, 6 April 2015

THE CLIFF Book 4 REVIEW #1 - The Beatification of Snooty - by Richard Brown

I am happy and proud that my father Mr. Richard Brown, former high school English, History and Family Studies teacher, has written the first advance review of THE CLIFF, Book 4: "Heart of Brightness."  His own literary prowess, perspicacity and wit are in evident abundance.

The Beatification of Snooty:
A Review of The Cliff, Book 4 by Matthew Brown

     Matthew Brown’s graphic novel The Cliff, Book 4 is a riveting mystery story, which captures the reader’s attention from start to finish, but, in addition to that, it draws upon sources so diverse as Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts,” Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Virgil’s Aeneid, beast fables, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and the conventions of “film noir” to make a unique contemporary cultural and biographical statement.  The story begins with Mei Mei Castiglione in the city of Moronto soliciting the aid of private investigator and former gang member Poopsie the Penguin to solve the murders of Carlos Brown and others.  This initiates a journey to the city of Varanasi in India by Poopsie and Mutt Blue, a young alter ego for the author and a man of peace, reminiscent of Marlow’s journey into the Congo, Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, and Aeneas’ guided tour of the Underworld, where he meets his father.  Poopsie is the ultimate guide, much like Marlow, the white rabbit, and the Cumaean Sibyl in Virgil’s Roman epic, and Mutt learns the secrets of his past.
     The plot, however, is of least interest and importance in this graphic novel, similar to a libretto for an opera or a screenplay for a porn movie.  The “real action” is in the one-liner jokes  (one can imagine a Humphrey Bogart voice delivering them) and in Matthew Brown’s incredible artistic skill in rendering a detailed and complex black-and-white world with his pen.  The characters seem to have all the solidity of Eastern idols, and Varanasi is portrayed in such depth that the readers emerge with the feeling that they had actually been there in person themselves.
     While this reviewer will not spoil the ending of the story for future readers, a word or two must be said about the front and back cover pictures for this book.  Writers such as James Joyce have noticed that “dog” spelled backwards is “god.”  Suffice it to say that Mutt, the man of peace, finds a pooch that gives all for freedom.
     I recommend this book wholeheartedly, and I can only conclude with a joke I remember from my childhood:  “Hi!  My name is Cliff.  Drop over sometime.”
                                                                            Richard Brown
                                                                            April 6, 2015

Thursday, 2 April 2015


It's finally here... my proof copy of "Heart of Brightness" just came in!  More than two years in the making... hundreds of hours of drawing, clicking and whining... have culminated in this 112 page chunker!

It will debut at TCAF - the Toronto Comic Arts Festival - Sat. May 9 - Sun. May 10, 2015 where I'll be sitting with my good friends Marc, Stan and the crew from Editions TRIP... and followed a few weeks later by a proper launch with staged reading and live musical accompaniment!  But in the meantime... 

SPECIAL OFFER: For anyone willing to write an advance review of THE CLIFF Book 4: "Heart of Brightness", please email me at  .  If you allow me to post your review on Facebook and this blog, I will send you a free copy of the graphic novel!  Any takers??

Final front cover