The sporting life – Bryan Brown’s First Fight 2, an autobiographical comic


Bryan Brown‘s First Fight 2 — the follow up to his debut comic about his experience in the world of mixed martial arts — shows our hero, a successful Philadelphia artist/illustrator (no superpowers here, but lots of heart),  continuing his fascination with the sport as he goes about his life.

The story spends a lot of time setting up the hero’s return to the arena. It’s been two years since his first fight (recap: he lost on points and felt bad about letting his family and himself down, but felt great about getting as far as he did). To say he has a love/hate relationship with the sport is to state the obvious. So what’s he been doing? Well, he’s married now and doing a lot of soul searching. He’s a little heavier and, as in the first book, a little bit melancholy.  My review of the first issue of First Fight ran on artblog Dec. 19, 2009 in case you want to chase it down.

In the Harvey Pekar school of comic book narratives, First Fight 2 includes musings from Brown’s life and a chronicle of daily events from the big (getting married; creating his first comic book, First Fight and selling it at Wizard World Convention) to the small (walking his parents’ dog Snowball or eating a cheeseburger).

In fact there’s so much reminiscence, musing and inner conflict in Fight 2 that it’s not until P. 18 that Brown makes his decision to check out a class, still not committed to re-entering a world that’s physically and emotionally demanding.

There’s one fight scene in this book — it takes place in that first class where Brown grapples with another student. From P. 21-26, the two students grapple and come out shaking hands at the end.

Partial page from the book, showing Beth Heinly and Pumpkinhead (lower right)

As with Brown’s first book, the illustrations are well-done and serve the story. There’s plenty of odd-angled scenes and multi-panel pages so that the 32 page book speeds along. Enhancing the melancholy mood that pervades much of the book is the use of secondary colors (green, purple) along with lots of grey and black.

This is a sweet little book and, as with his first, Brown shows himself an accomplished autobiographical story teller.  In a coda at the end, Brown dedicates this issue to Snowball, who died while he was working on the book. Photos of Snowball appear on the acknowledgements page, further grounding the story in a real world of family and daily life.  While that’s not a happy ending, it’s sure a true one.  By the way, you may have seen Bryan at Philly Alternative Comic Con.  He had a table.  First Fight 2 is at the printers and I saw it in glorious .pdf.  Contact Bryan for a copy.

P.S.  Bryan wrote to say he’s participating in his second tournament in December.


book reviews, bryan brown, first fight 2



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