Graphic novelist Bruce Brown has a huge fan base from his modern takes on the horror classics of H.P. Lovecraft, including Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom and Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, as well as the Brit graphic series, Mwumba, and Clay City. But his newest work, Gordon the Giraffe (which he wrote and A. Shelton illustrated), might just be his most personal. It's a delightfully smart and nonpreachy LGBT tolerance book for parents and kids that Brown wrote for his brother right before the latter man died of AIDS complications. We asked Brown, who has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Wired, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, to tell us about the book.
The Advocate: Tell me about your brother, Brad. Bruce Brown: My brother was the inspiration for the book. He was HIV-positive, and before he passed away he spoke with me about wanting me to do something positive with my writing for the gay community. My brother was a very giving man and he always was wanting to help people in any way he could. Before he became too ill to do so, he worked tirelessly for countless charities. So I knew I could do no less with his request. So I promised him before he passed away I would do a book.
Is Gordon what he had in mind? He initially had asked for a gay character in one of my books portrayed in a positive light. But the more I thought about it, that didn't seem enough. So, as an all-ages graphic novelist, I decided I would do a children's book. I wanted to incorporate things in the story that reflected him. For example, my brother experienced harassment at his workplace once for being gay and at times even said he was fearful for his safety. So I took that and incorporated bullying into the story. I wanted to call out those who hate because someone is different and point out to them we are all different in everyone's eyes. So in the book Gordon does not only overcome intolerance and bullying but rises above that and even saves those that treated him so poorly.
How do you see the book? Gordon the Giraffe is really a book written as a dying wish from my brother, but also my reaction to the things my brother went through as a gay man. Though he never lived to see this book come out, I think he would be proud of it.