Child Star, By Brian “Box” Brown, 230 pgs.

Box Brown has done comic biographies about Andre the Giant, Tetris, Marijuana, and Andy Kaufman. In his new book, he tackles the life of child star Owen Eugene. You may be familiar with Owen Eugene in his role as Keaton in the ’80s sitcom Everyone’s Friend where he spouted his catchphrase “I don’t understand…” far too many times.

If that doesn’t sound familiar at all, don’t worry. He’s not real. This is Box Brown’s first piece of long-form fiction. I hope all of you will learn to forgive me for attempting to pull a fast one.

However, Owen Eugene is not completely made up. His story has little bits and pieces of kids like Gary Coleman, Macaulay Culkin, Michael J. Fox, Cory Feldman, and the likes. The comic reads like a made-for-TV documentary about Owen Eugene. Using interviews, news articles, and archive footage we get to see the highs and lows of Owen’s life. His growth was stunted due to illness at a young age so he was always able to play younger than he looked. Sure, this was great when you’re a kid, but not so much when you’re trying to get acting jobs as an adult. Later in life, Eugene was often typecast playing himself or working in “I don’t understand…” somehow.

Within the book, we get bits and pieces of whole episodes of Everyone’s Friend, including the episodes where Keaton brings a knife to school and the one where Nancy Reagan forced her way in to tell kids to “Just Say No.” We see scenes of Eugene’s made-for-TV movies and the cult classic Camp Christmas. Since Eugene is never interviewed. we only hear from his co-stars, parents, and ex-wives.

For those unfamiliar with Box Brown’s style, it’s definitely worth looking at. He doesn’t get insanely detailed, giving it a very tidy and boxy look. I don’t know how to explain it, but his style is his own.

In all, the book is funny, tragic, and a delight to look at. I know Box Brown’s next project is another biography, so this might have been a one-off effort at doing fiction. Let’s hope it’s not and his next work of fiction focuses on Dinger, the alien puppet that appears in a single panel of the book. –Rick V. (First Second firstsecondbooks.com)