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So Buttons: Man of, Like, a Dozen Faces

So Buttons: Man of, Like, a Dozen Faces collects the choicest slices of life from 10 years of So Buttons, writer Jonathan Baylis's autobiographical comics series.


Like the late great Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) before him, Baylis utilizes an all-star cadre of indie artists to illustrate his true-life tales. This collection includes stories drawn by Noah Van Sciver (Blammo, The Hypo), Joseph Remnant (Harvey Pekar's Cleveland), Rick Parker (Beavis & Butthead, The Pekar Project), and the inimitable Hembeck (Fantastic Four Roast), as well as additional art by luminaries like Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma, The Fox), Jay Lynch (Garbage Pail Kids), Jim Steranko (S.H.I.E.L.D), Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) and Tom Scioli (G.I. Joe vs. Transformers, Godland).


Baylis's reality-based repertoire ranges from heartfelt humorously self-deprecating tales of love, dating and marriage, to engaging rants and ruminations on his pop culture obsessions including Forrest Ackerman, Akira Kurosawa, The Beatles, King Kong, Star Wars and then some to amusing work anecdotes of times interning at Marvel and at Sundance, where he found out Robert Redford is a jerk.

Like Harvey Pekar, the (well-deserved) king of writing autobiographical comics drawn by a spectrum of artistic collaborators, Baylis’s self-spun tales (most beginning with the wind-up “So...”) are illustrated by others but retain his voice. In this debut, Baylis’s stories—less dour and cynical than Pekar’s—amuse with life’s simple moments and human banalities. He’s backed up by a strong assortment of alt-comics artists (Fred Hembeck, Noah Van Schiver, Rick Parker, T.J. Kirsch, Paul Westover, among them) on growing up a nerdy Jewish New Yorker, his pop culture memories of his favorite movies (mostly in the war, horror, and baseball genres), encounters with R. Crumb and Robert Redford, and fond anecdotes of his parents. Chapters on his work at Marvel and other companies will appeal to the mainstream comics fan. Most effective (and affecting) is the personal touch in stories about those close to him: a beautiful extended piece (drawn by Tim Ogline) about Baylis’s uncle’s memories of Vietnam and a series of short, funny, romantic pieces about his wife, NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg. Baylis’s life is entertaining, and he relates it with charm and poised cool. (BookLife)