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I Never Liked You - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I Never Liked You

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I Never Liked You is a graphic novel

by Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown.
The story rst ran between 1991 and
1993 under the title Fuck, in issues
#2630 of Brown's comic book Yummy
Fur; published in book form by Drawn
and Quarterly in 1994. It deals with the
teenage Brown's introversion and
diiculty talking to others, especially
members of the opposite sexincluding
his mother, to whom he is unable to
express aection even as she lies dying
in the hospital. The story has minimal
dialogue and is sparsely narrated. The
artwork is amongst the simplest in
Brown's body of worksome pages
consist only of a single small panel.
Brown established his reputation in the
early alternative comics scene of the
1980s with the surreal, taboo-breaking
Ed the Happy Clown. He brought that
story to an abrupt end in 1989 when,
excited by the autobiographical comics
of Joe Matt and Julie Doucet, he turned
towards personal stories. The
uncomplicated artwork of his friend
and fellow Toronto cartoonist Seth
inspired him to simplify his own. Brown
intended I Never Liked You as part of a
longer work with what became his
previous book, The Playboy (1992), but
found the larger story too complex to
handle at once. I Never Liked You was
the last work of Brown's early
autobiographical period.

I Never Liked You

Cover of the New Denitive second edition of

I Never Liked You


Chester Brown




Drawn and

Original publication
Published in

Yummy Fur



Date of

October 1991
April 1993

I Never Liked You was well received, and its inuence can be found in the work
of cartoonists such as Jerey Brown, Ariel Schrag and Anders Nilsen. The book
appeared amid the early 1990s trend in autobiographical alternative comics,
and Brown was one of a prominent trio of Toronto-based autobiographical
cartoonists, with Seth and Joe Matt. Brown originally set the panels against
black page backgrounds, which he replaced with white for an annotated "New
Denitive Edition" in 2002.
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1 Background
2 Synopsis
3 Publication
4 Style and analysis
5 Reception and legacy
6 References
6.1 Works cited
6.1.1 Books
6.1.2 Journals and magazines
6.1.3 Web
7 External links

Brown grew up in Chteauguay, a Montreal suburb with a large Englishspeaking minority;[1] he does not speak French.[2] He described himself as a
"nerdy teenager" attracted to comic books from a young age, and sought a
career in superhero comics, but was unsuccessful in nding work with Marvel
or DC after graduating from high school.[1] He moved to Toronto and
discovered underground comix[3] and the small-press community. From 1983[1]
he self-published a minicomic titled Yummy Fur.[4]
From 1986[5] Toronto-based Vortex Comics began publishing Yummy Fur. After
making a name for himself in alternative comics with the surreal serial Ed the
Happy Clown, Brown turned to autobiography[6] under the inuence of the
work of Julie Doucet and Joe Matt. During his autobiographical period, Brown
gradually simplied his style, inspired by the example of his friend and fellow
Toronto cartoonist Seth.[7] He began tentatively with a pair of short tales, and
gradually became freer with his panel layouts and simpler in his artwork. [8]
Brown had switched publishers to the Montreal-based Drawn and Quarterly by
the time he completed his rst autobiographical graphic novel, The Playboy, in
1992.[6] At rst, he intended The Playboy and I Never Liked You to form one
story, but found it too complex to handle when he started to plan it out. [9] The
Playboy deals with Brown's guilt over his teenage obsession with masturbating
over pornography. The book gained praise from fans, critics, and other
cartoonists, and won a Harvey Award. It received criticism from those who saw
it as objectifying women and glorifying pornography; Playboy publisher Hugh
Hefner wrote to Brown voicing concern that Brown would feel such guilt in a
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post-sexual revolution world.[10]

The story is set during Brown's 1970s adolescence in
Chteauguay, a suburb of Montreal. Chester"Chet"
for shortis a thin, long-haired teenager who is
awkward, introverted, and better able to express
himself through drawing than speaking. He constantly
and inexplicably turns away girls, even though he is
interested in them and they in him. Except in his
imagination, Chet has diiculty expressing aection
even for his mother. She talks to Chet and his younger
brother Gord about issues that embarrass them, and
the religious teaching she has instilled in them has
rendered Chet unable to bring himself to swear, for
which he is teased and goaded at school.

Seth was a fellow

Toronto cartoonist
whose work inspired
Brown to simplify his

Chet plays games such as hide-and-seek with the

neighbourhood children. One girl, Carrie, has a crush
on Chet and invites him to her house each day to wash the dishes. He and
Carrie's older sister Connie, a bossy blonde a year his senior, often hide during
hide-and-seek games in tall grass where they spend the time talking with each
other, though they have little in common. Connie asks him to the movies, but
he sits away from her when he spots boys from his school; he fears he will be
teased for being on a date. When the lm ends, they walk home in silence.


The story takes place in

Chteauguay, Quebec.

Chet is interested in Sky, a large-breasted

dark-haired girl two years younger who lives
next door, about whom he has masturbatory
fantasies. He confesses his love but
immediately regrets it, unable to express his
feelings. She connects with Chet and tries to
develop a relationship, but he is unable to
deal with his emotions and avoids spending
time with her. He draws her a picture of a
skeleton symbolizing himself reaching for a
bird signifying Sky herself. When Carrie
deciphers it correctly he denies that he uses
symbolism in his drawings, and the
confrontation escalates to minor violence
when Carrie proclaims to him, "I never liked

Chet and his brother rarely visit their mother after she checks into hospital,
and when they do Chet cannot bring himself to tell her he loves her. She suers
a fall down a ight of stairs there when confusedly wandering around and dies
after being bedridden and incoherent for a short time. Chet makes excuse after
excuse to turn Sky away when she tries to spend time with him. The story ends
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with Chet refusing to accompany Sky to the fair because he says he would
rather listen to his new Kiss album.

I Never Liked You was originally serialized under the title Fuck, in issues
#2630 of Yummy Fur, between October 1991 and April 1993.[11] Unlike his
earlier works, according to Brown there was "very little improvisation in I
Never Liked You. It was quite planned out, even if I didn't write a full
Drawn and Quarterly issued a collected edition in 1994, changing the title from
Fuck to I Never Liked You. Brown rearranged the page layouts, removing
panels, most signicantly those in the prologue where Chet explains his
motivations.[13] A "New Denitive Edition" appeared in 2002, with two added
pages of contextual endnotes,[6] something he had been increasingly doing
from 1995 with his cartoon essay "My Mom Was a Schizophrenic".[14] In the
1994 collection the backgrounds were black; he changed them to white and
rearranged the panels for the "New Denitive Edition". He explained: "I like
austerity. The white background looks more austere to me." [12] The edition
included a short appendix for readers "wondering when and where things

Style and analysis

Academic Charles Hateld nds "an abiding interest in the ways people are
shaped by their environment" in Brown's autobiographical work, and believes
the stories demonstrate "the urgency of Justin Green and the mundane
particularity of Harvey Pekar", two inuential creators known for their
revealing autobiographical comics. Brown is unsparing in his depictions of
social awkwardness of his teenage years.[16] Despite the 1970s adolescent
backdrop, sex and drugs are absent; his life is shaped by his strictly religious
parents[17] and introversion.[18]
Brown's mother (192376)[19] suered from schizophrenia. This is not made
explicit,[20] but hinted at in scenes where she approaches awkward subjects
with Chet and his brother Gord; the boys' unsupportive responses feed the
discomfort.[18] Brown addresses his mother's mental health in his 1995 cartoon
essay "My Mom Was a Schizophrenic", in which he takes an anti-psychiatric
Chet's face is near expressionless throughout.[22] The characters are distanced
from the reader, inviting neither empathy nor identication.[23] To cartoonist
and critic Pepo Prez, this is a challenge to readers to understand the
characters.[24] In the appendix to the "New Denitive Edition", Brown declares
the dialogue is ltered through his memory and likely did not occur as
recorded, and that locations and other details are also subject to lapses of
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memory. To academic Elisabeth El Refaie this

transparency on Brown's part is "a deeper and
more sincere form of authenticity".[15] Reviewer
C. Max Magee found the tone of awkwardness
and emotional emptiness comparable to works
by contemporaries such as Daniel Clowes and
Chris Ware.[25]
The story unfolds in vignettes,[26] with little
setup or context given to any scene. To Hateld,
they "[pop] out of nowhere as a dreamlike series
of pulses ... The eect is sometimes eerie ...
despite the grounding of the story in mundane
Chet is unable to voice his
everyday stu."[27] Unlike in his previous
aection even to his dying
graphic novel, The Playboy, Brown makes
schizophrenic mother; his
limited use of a narrator in I Never Liked You.
lack of expression dees easy
The story is told almost entirely through its
reader identication.
pictures and sparse dialogue.
The page
layouts are also sparse, sometimes limited to a
single, small panel on a page,[28] sometimes up
to seven or eight.[29] The layout and repetition of panels aects pacing, slowing
or quickening scene.[18]
Brown abandoned the grid layout he had used in earlier works for more varied,
organic layouts.[30] Backgrounds establish the mood of a scene, harmonizing or
contrasting with the actionas when Chet and Connie return from the movies
amongst a romantic snow-covered, starry landscape, against an awkward
silence accentuated by panel that grow, making the gures appear ever more
The cartooning is far looser than in Brown's earlier work, and concerned more
with gesture and expression than literal detail.[13] They are rendered with a
brush, and amongst the simplest and sparsest in his body of work. There is
nonetheless a signicant amount of hatching,[31] and the backgrounds are
naturalistic, in contrast to the thin, distorted gures.[32] Brown had been
paring his artwork since the Playboy stories, as he was not happy with his style
and sought "to rebuild [his] style in a way that [he] would like". He continued
this with I Never Liked You, where he has said he was "trying to get even more
pared down than The Playboy".[31] Certain inanimate objects receive a focus
imbuing them with special signicance, such as Chet's habitual after-school
package of soda crackers or the Brown family homea house that, to reviewer
Darcy Sullivan, "is as much a character [in I Never Liked You] as in The
Brown drew the pictures before laying down the panel borders, which conform
to the shapes of the pictures they enclosed and are drawn in a wobbly
free-hand much like in the artwork of the Los Bros Hernandez or Robert
Crumb.[34] He drew each panel individually, assembling them into pages

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afterwards.[29] In the original serialization and rst collected edition, they were
placed on black backgrounds. He changed to white backgrounds for the 2002

Reception and legacy

Brown (pictured in
2009) returned to the
subject of his relations
with women in 2011 in
the polemic Paying for
It, arguing for the
decriminalization of

Brown's autobiographical work developed from a

scene that had been developing since the 1970s and
which had reached a peak in the late 1980s and early
1990s. Brown's open and self-deprecating example left
an impact on cartoonists such as Jerey Brown and
Ariel Schrag, and his sparse layouts on the likes of
Anders Nilsen.[7] Upon the serial's conclusion,
reviewer Darcy Sullivan called it "a major step
forward for the artist, a leading light in adult
comics".[13] American cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez
hailed The Playboy and I Never Liked You as
"probably the best graphic novels next to Maus";[35]
British cartoonist Eddie Campbell called them "the
most sensitive comics ever made";[36] and American
comics writer Heidi MacDonald called I Never Liked
You "a masterpiece" that is "the equal of any 'coming
of age' movie".[37]

Charles Hateld praised Brown's honesty, keen

observation, and narrative strength,[16] and called the
"hide with me"[38] page as one of his favourites.[27]
Critic scar Palmer (es) described the work as "an
example of sobriety and restraint, and one of the harshest, most hopeless
teenage portraits ... in any medium".[24] Scripter and critic Trajano
Bermdez (es) wrote the book demonstrates Brown a master of his medium.[24]
Norwegian cartoonist Jason calls I Never Liked You a favourite
autobiographical work.[39]
Alongside Seth's It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken and Joe Matt's The Poor
Bastardworks by Brown's Toronto-based friends and Drawn and Quarterly
stablematesI Never Liked You is seen as a prominent example of the 1990s
autobiographical comics trend.[24] As one of "The Autobiographical Stories
from Yummy Fur", it ranked 38th on The Comics Journal's list of the top 100
English-language comics of the 20th century.[16] In 2001 Stephen Weiner
included I Never Liked You in his book The 101 Best Graphic Novels,
recommending it to those who enjoy J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the
I Never Liked You was the last work from his autobiographical period that
started in 1990 with Helder in Yummy Fur #19. Yummy Fur continued for two
more issues before Drawn and Quarterly publisher Chris Oliveros convinced

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Brown to publish his next serial, Underwater, under its own title in 1994. In
2011 Brown returned to autobiography and his relations with women with the
graphic novel Paying for It, a polemic arguing for the decriminalization of

1. Bell 2006, p. 144.
2. Epp 2013, p. 120.
3. Juno 1997, p. 132.
4. Juno 1997, p. 131.
5. Bell 2006, p. 146.
6. Khlert 2012, p. 378.
7. Khlert 2012, p. 381.
8. Grace & Homan 2013, p. xviii.
9. Juno 1997, p. 140.
10. Grace & Homan 2013, p. xx.
11. Lefvre 2010, p. 313.
12. Verstappen 2007.
13. Sullivan 1994, p. 53.
14. Park 2011.
15. El Refaie 2012, p. 166.
16. Hateld 1999, p. 67.
17. Bell 2006, p. 158.
18. Sullivan 1994, p. 54.
19. Sim 2003.
20. Hateld 2008; Williams.
21. Birch 2012, p. 174; Williams.

22. El Refaie 2012, p. 202.

23. El Refaie 2012, p. 197; Serrano 2007.
24. Serrano 2007.
25. Magee 2006.
26. Grace & Homan 2013, p. xxi.
27. Hateld 2008.
28. Lefvre 2009, p. 161.
29. Khlert 2012, p. 380.
30. Santoro 2010.
31. Juno 1997, p. 135.
32. Khlert 2012, pp. 379380.
33. Sullivan 1994, pp. 5455.
34. Wolk 2007, p. 153.
35. Bell 2006, p. 156; Gravett; Thompson
2004, p. 84.
36. Bell 2006, p. 156.
37. MacDonald 2011.
38. Brown 2002, p. 33.
39. Heater 2009.
40. Weiner 2001, p. 7.
41. Grace & Homan 2013, pp. xxi, xxv.

Works cited
Bell, John (2006). Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic
Book Universe. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55002-659-7.
Birch, Michael (2012). "My Mom was a Schizophrenic". Mediating Mental Health:
Contexts, Debates and Analysis (
/books?id=wctHSTHinsUC&pg=PA174). Ashgate Publishing. pp. 174185.
ISBN 978-0-7546-7474-0. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
Brown, Chester (2002). I Never Liked You: The New Denitive Edition. Drawn and

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Quarterly. ISBN 978-1896597140.

Epp, Darrell (2013). "Two Handed Man Interviews Cartoonist Chester Brown". In
Grace, Dominick; Homan, Eric. Chester Brown: Conversations
( University Press of
Mississippi. pp. 118147. ISBN 978-1-61703-868-6.
Grace, Dominick; Homan, Eric (2013). "Introduction". In Grace, Dominick;
Homan, Eric. Chester Brown: Conversations (
/books?id=3ZnyAAAAQBAJ). University Press of Mississippi. pp. viixxxi.
ISBN 978-1-61703-868-6.
Juno, Andrea (1997). "Interview with Chester Brown". Dangerous Drawings. Juno
Books. pp. 130147. ISBN 0-9651042-8-1.
Khlert, Frederik Byrn (2012). "I Never Liked You: A Comic-Strip Narrative". In
Beaty, Bart H.; Weiner, Stephen. Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independent
and Underground Classics. Salem Press. pp. 378381. ISBN 978-1-58765-950-8.
Lefvre, Pascal (2009). "The Construction of Space in Comics". In Heer, Jeet;
Worcester, Kent. A Comics Studies Reader (
/books?id=9LUYhG9qO_8C). University Press of Mississippi. pp. 157162.
ISBN 978-1-60473-109-5. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
Lefvre, Pascal (2010). "I Never Liked You". In Booker, M. Keith. Encyclopedia of
Comic Books and Graphic Novels 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 313314.
ISBN 978-0-313-35748-0.
El Refaie, Elisabeth (2012). Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures
( University Press of
Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-61703-613-2.
Weiner, Stephen (2001). DeCandido, Keith R. A., ed. The 101 Best Graphic Novels.
NBM. ISBN 978-1-56163-444-6.
Wolk, Douglas (2007). "Chester Brown: The Outsider". Reading Comics: How
Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Da Capo Press. pp. 147155.
ISBN 978-0-306-81509-6.

Journals and magazines

Hateld, Charles (February 1999). Spurgeon, Tom, ed. "No. 38: The
Autobiographical Stories in Yummy Fur". The Comics Journal (Fantagraphics
Books) (210): 67. ISSN 0194-7869 (
Sim, Dave (October 2003). " "Getting Riel", part 1" (
/artists/louisriel1.php). Cerebus (Aardvark-Vanaheim) (295). ISSN 0712-7774
( Retrieved 2011-01-16.
Sullivan, Darcy (November 1994). "The Four Letter Heart". The Comics Journal
(Fantagraphics Books) (172): 5355. ISSN 0194-7869 (

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Thompson, Kim (February 2004). "Gilbert Hernandez interview". The Comics
Journal (Fantagraphics Books) (158). ISSN 0194-7869 (

Gravett, Paul. "Creator Prole: Chester Brown" (
/chester_brown/). Archived from the original
( on
2011-09-10. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
Hateld, Charles (2008-01-24). " "Hide with me": a page by Chester Brown
(admired by CH)" ( Thought Balloonists.
Archived from the original ( on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
Heater, Brian (2009-06-23). "Interview: Jason Pt. 2 [of 2]" (
/web/20090626064328/ The Daily
Crosshatch. Archived from the original (
/23/4049/) on 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
MacDonald, Heidi (2011-11-28). "Beat Holiday Giveaway: Chester Brown's The
Playboy and I Never Liked You" ( The
Beat. Archived from the original ( on 2014-11-17. Retrieved
Magee, C. Max (2006-02-08). "I Never Liked You by Chester Brown: A Review"
/2006/02/i-never-liked-you-by-chester-brown.html). The Millions. Archived from the
original ( on 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
Park, Ed (2011-05-02). "Text Appeal" (
/web/20110505015730/ Toronto Standard. Archived
from the original ( on 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
Santoro, Frank (2010-10-16). "Class with Frank part 2: Doin' the Chester"
/2010/10/class-with-frank-part-2.html). Comics Comics. Archived from the original
( on
2010-10-21. Retrieved 2011-04-30.

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Serrano, Jose A. (June 2007). "Nunca me has gustado, de Chester Brown"

/comics/nunca-me-has-gustado-chester-brown.htm). Gua del cmic (in Spanish).
Archived from the original ( on 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
Verstappen, Nicolas (August 2007). "Chester Brown" (
/web/20080901030055/,1030). du9. Archived
from the original (,1030) on 2008-09-01.
Retrieved 2011-04-06.
Williams, Ian. "I Never Liked You" (
Graphic Medicine. Archived from the original (
/comic-reviews/i-never-liked-you/) on 2014-11-17. Retrieved 2014-11-17.

External links
I Never Liked You ( at the
Comic Book DB
Retrieved from "
Categories: 1994 graphic novels Autobiographical graphic novels
Books about mental health Canadian graphic novels
Drawn and Quarterly titles Books by Chester Brown
Comics by Chester Brown Books about introversion
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