The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon

Welcome to our post by guest blogger Kate Atherton!

The mysterious cover art, depicting the protagonist Nao with a washing machine head and the end and title papers with Zen brush stroke circles feel calming in their repetitive circle motif, alluring and mysterious. The complex narrative of The Nao of Brown is about a young woman, Nao. She works at a Manga novelty shop in London, reconnects with old friends, attends meditation classes at a Zen Buddhist gathering place, and starts a new relationship with a repair man who fixes her washing machine…oh, and Nao has OCD and intrusive violent thoughts as daydreams everywhere she goes. Daydreams of stabbing people with nearby pens, tipping baby strollers, and smashing a glass into her boyfriend’s face. She would never act on these thoughts, but they pop up consistently and are cinematically drawn out in comic form by Glyn Dillon.

“The Nao of Brown” is a seven-layer trifle of a graphic novel with multiple narratives, serious mental health topics and a range of drawing and illustrative art styles. Nao’s journey with her OCD, mental health, and fears of it overcoming her relationship OR disqualifying her from having a healthy relationship at this point of her life is the main story line but there are interesting and lovable side characters and a seemingly completely non sequitur side story. The story of ‘Pictor’ that runs throughout the book is completely dissociated from the everyday life of Nao. Pictor is like the ballet that comes in the intermission of the Opera. It tells an epic tale of Pictor on a journey to defeat evil, have true love, and persevere in the world; it’s very much a knight’s quest and is up to the reader to draw comparisons, learn lessons from it and decide why it is there. This book has a level of everyday life detail that makes it feel so real. You feel as if you are there with her, in her Zen Buddhist painting and meditation class she takes to calm her intrusive thoughts, with strangers she isn’t completely comfortable with. You are a customer in Peoploids, the store Nao works in, eavesdropping on her and her friend Steve talking about their dating misfortunes. You are the fly on the wall when the washing machine repair man comes and Nao immediately has a crush on him because he looks like The Nothing, her favorite Japanese toy character. This graphic novel is a tale of self-discovery, finding peace in what is inherent within us and finding room to change our world and is exceptionally difficult to describe and therefore merits a read so that you too can unravel The Nao of Brown.


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