Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Jesse's Comics

By Walter Dean Myers

Jesse's Comics

Jesse's been reading comics since he was a kid, and he hopes to make his own someday. When he's drawing Rise's autobiography, he decides to include some comics with Spodi Roti, a bird-like looking dude who is a proxy for Jesse, and Wise, a chill Rastafarian who stands in for Rise. The comics are fictionalized versions of some of the situations Jesse's dealing with in real life.

In general, Spodi is worried and always asking questions, while Wise is cool and confident, always telling Spodi not to worry. This pretty accurately mirrors the general dynamic between Jesse and Rise—Jesse worries, Rise tells him to chill, wash, rinse, repeat.

But besides giving Jesse a chance to stretch his comic-drawing muscles, something else interesting happens when he tries to draw the "real" Rise. See, Rise sees himself as Superman—"Maybe I am Superman," he says to Jesse; "Might as well be, huh?" (7.49)—but when Jesse puts pen to paper, what emerges is an image of Rise as a villain. Jesse's mother, not recognizing the portrait as Rise, says:

"Well, it could be Bizarro, the mad villain of Gotham City, Stinky Scourge of the Underworld contemplating his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction."

Whoa. Clearly, there's a huge difference between the way Rise sees himself and the way that Jesse sees him. And while Jesse might lament the changes in his friend and long for the good old days when Rise wasn't involved in drug dealing and turf wars and such, there's clearly a part of him that also sees Rise as a villain—otherwise he wouldn't have drawn him as such. In this way, the comics reveal not just the truth about the people Jesse draws (more on this on the page about drawings elsewhere in this section), but the truth about how Jesse feels about these people, too.

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