Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 20, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Celebrities, Humor

Justin Green is a comic artist who grew up  in suburban  Illinois  in the 1950s and early ’60s.  He is best known for his 1972 autobiographical comic,  Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. binky-brown.jpg

Green was the typical Catholic boy: hormones firing away to produce a continual barrage of random  impure thoughts.   But most of the nuns who taught during those decades  were steeped in Jansenism – a rigid, puritanical Catholicsm with a heavy emphasis on the body as the source of sin, depravity  and a  shortcut to the pains of hell.  “Homo thoughts about Christ!! I better do some penance,” Binky chokes.

Green’s Catholicism was also influenced by his then undiagosed  obsessive-complusive disorder.  

Binky begins to develop an elaborate system of obsessions based on the fear that he will contaminate religious sites with his sexual thoughts. These “rays”  come from  his  fingers, feet and of course, his penis.  He takes extreme care to make sure a ray never crossed the path of a church,   or intersected with anything sacred, especially statutes of Mary.

Green equated Catholicism with scrupulosity – a neurotic obsession about committing sin. At the time he drew the book Green did not know about his obsessive-complusive disorder and described his condition as neurosis, which he blamed largely on his Catholic upbringing.

 But time has softened Green’s stance a little.

“I no longer consider myself to be a warrior against the church,” he said. “Here in Sacramento we have a very liberal church. They offered a weekly program for lapsed, embittered Catholics. I attended out of curiousity. I needed to thoroughly understand the dogma that I had rejected; I wanted my latest material to have a ring of authenticity.”

“From the lively discussions, I progressed to an experimental look at the Mass. The church is in transition. Like Surrealism, there is no ultimate version (though the far right of the church claims utter and inviolable orthodoxy, as always). There is too much baggage in the organization for me to return, though somewhere along the way I lost my righteous anger.”

“I came to see how the church provides a need that is very real and good for a lot of peoples’ lives. Jesus is not the sexual bogeyman. Many repressive doctrines have been grafted onto his teachings.”

“It has been hard for me to disentangle which are uniquely my own misconceptions and which are inherent in the institution,” he goes on. “According to the latest findings of behavior psychology, my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder would exist even if Iwere never exposed to Christianity. OCD gave me a unique vantage point, though; if I was able to address symbolic content that is hidden to most people, then the behavior disorder was a gift.”

As an older artist, Green has to some extent made his peace. He feels the church is not the same monlith it was in the 1950s. Voicing his concern that Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is a “sin of youth”–and his concern as a parent that some child might get a copy of it–he nevertheless says, “I hope to retain the quality of the voice, because it was done out of internal necessity.”

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One Response to “Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary”

  1. Not'isrealname Says:

    Some of the best cartoonists I have known started out as Catholics.

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