Andy Kaufman brought joy, anger, laughter, discomfort, confusion, and deep sadness to his audiences. Whether it was performaing as Mighty Mouse, Elvis, Latka, or the Women’s Wrestling Champion of the World, watching Andy Kaufman in action never failed to elicit emotion. In IS THIS GUY FOR REAL? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, an upcoming graphic novel by Box Brown, we are given a hint, more than a hint, of who the real Andy Kaufman was.
Written with compassion, straightforward description, and a tender lens aimed at the eccentric, lovable Andy Kaufman, Box Brown creates a story that makes the reader feel like they’re getting the inside scoop on this entertainer. The graphic novel is an easy read, and it can go fast, but take time to pore over the wonderfully drawn and paced frames. There are details and commentary in the drawings and asides that enrich the biographical aspects of the book.
Fans of Kaufman will appreciate the behind-the-scenes feel of Brown’s treatment of the stand up that introduced “foreign man” and Elvis. And for those unfamiliar with the acts, the book will quickly get them up to speed. The importance of meditation, wanting to make audiences purge anger, and the various kindnesses in Kaufman’s life will realign the entertainers image that time and a feature film have dampened. However, it is Andy Kaufman’s love or and fascination with wrestling that drives the story.
The bibliography for the novel is extensive, and Box Brown personally interviewed several major players in Kaufman’s life. The details that create funny, touching, discomfiting, and heartwarming moments make the book feel intimate and honest. This is especially true in the treatment of the final few pages, which will probably make you want to backtrack and re-read.
Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown is out February 6, 2018 from First Second. Recommended for readers ages 12+