Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

Brownsville ()

I've spoken before of my theory of comic book art, how it's all just a matter of circles or lines. As a general proposition the line drawings seem best suited to the darker stories, which is why Batman is the quintessential story told in lines and shadows while the sunnier Superman is the prime exemplar of a rounder hero. So it's rather jarring, at first anyway, to read Brownsville, with its Ditko-esque but dark artwork. But, seeing as writer, Neil Kleid, and artist, Jake Allen, are telling the somewhat forgotten true story of New York's Jewish gangsters, it's oddly appropriate. After all, the Godfather films have so completely staked out the noirish Mafia tale as Italian territory and we tend to have such a benign view of Jewish immigrants that the way the drawings capture the clash of types in the story works out quite well. We follow little Albert (later "Tick Tock") Tannenbaum from the Catskill hotel where his father works -- and dreams of his son becoming a businessman, doctor or lawyer -- to the streets of Brooklyn, where he becomes a killer with Murder, Inc., rubbing elbows with Abe Reles, Pittsburgh Phil Strauss, Gangy Cohen, Mendy Weiss and others, until Thomas E. Dewey and other authorities close in on them and the betrayals shift from shootings to courtroom testimony. It's a novel treatment of this bit of history and a pretty compelling one.


Grade: (B)


Neil Kleid Links:

    -BOOK PAGE: Brownsville (NBM Comics Lit)
    -Rant Comics (Neil Kleid)
    -ESSAY: DO COMICS. PERIOD. (Neil Kleid, October 2002, Redirected Tart)
    -INTERVIEW: Big Things, Neil Kleid: He's a storyteller first and a cartoonist second; he loves web comics as much as minis; and he harbours a strange obsession with Todd Klein's money. Neil Kleid just can't stop talking to Ninth Art. (Ninth Art, 30 June 2003)
    -Comic Book Resources Forums: neil kleid
    -INTERVIEW: He might be from Detroit but he's all New York: An interview with Ninety Candles creator, Neil Kleid (Dana Tillusz, Comic Readers)
    -INTERVIEW: 9-11: Emergency Relief (A. David Lewis, Pop Matters)
    -ESSAY: A Graphic Coming of Age: Panel by panel, a fresh storytelling art is gaining attention and respect—and many of these tales turn to the Jewish experience, ancient and modern, for inspiration. (Leah Finkelshteyn, June/July 2005, Hadassah)
    -REVIEW: of Brownsville by Neil Kleid and Jake Allen (Chris Arrant, PW Comics Week)
    -REVIEW: of Brownsville (Erin M. Schadt, Comic Queen)
    -REVIEW: of Brownsville (Laurel Sutton, The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society)
    -REVIEW: of Brownsville (Robert Murray, Silver Bullet Comics)
    -REVIEW: of THE INTIMIDATORS: Created by Neil Kleid & Miguel Montenegro (Bruno, Millar World)
    -REVIEW: of Ninety Candles by Neil Kleid (Greg McElhatton, iComics)

Book-related and General Links: