Jeffrey Brown might be familiar to some through his Darth Vader & Son, Vader’s Little Princess, and assorted other Star Wars-themed all-ages books. However, most of Brown’s oeuvre has been a series of unflinching biographical graphic novels that have charted his life from his earliest memories through puberty and college and now fatherhood.
A Matter of Life is both something of a primer on Brown’s style and a bit of a departure as he focuses on a theme in his life rather than a specific time. In this work he muses on his thoughts on faith, life, and death, connecting these threads to his relationship to his father and to his own son.
Brown’s art style is loose and cartoonish, which goes well with his storytelling style. The bulk of the story is conveyed in a series of short vignettes, sometimes only a page long. There often aren’t obvious endings or punchlines to his tales; the reader simply turns the page and finds that Brown has changed topics. The lack of closure is almost a theme in itself, as Brown doesn’t claim to have the answers to the questions he asks or even know if he’s asking the right questions. There’s a certain stream-of-consciousness at work that makes the book a scenic drive through his thoughts and memories rather than a complete story, and what the reader takes away from it is up to them. Although it may not resonate with everyone, I personally identified with a great deal of it.