A cartoon of a couple of punks crossing the street, the one behind has a beer bottle in their hand and gives bunny ears to the one in front

My Brain Hurts

by Lee Baillie Author

A group of teenage queer punks get in perpetual trouble with the police, when they aren't flirting over loud music or postering their high school with flyers to allow same sex couples at prom. It's like they were your actual high school peers - pissing off the administration and taking care of each other when they get beat up by skinheads. Lee Baillie has a real talent for dialogue, characters, storytelling, and capturing New York - especially those moments that we all live, awkwardly making out, pulling pranks, and drinking beer. This graphic novel collects the first five (out of 10) issues of the comic My Brain Hurts.

  • My Brain Hurts image #1
  • My Brain Hurts image #2

Comments & Reviews


"My Brain Hurts Volume 1 is Baillie’s first collection of her mini-comic, and hopefully it won’t be her last. It’s great to watch her grow as a creator within these pages, but of course even more important is that My Brain Hurts is a solid, good comic. I think everyone at some point in their teen years has felt a little out of place with the rest of the world; it’s easy to empathize with this well written comic, even if your own personal situation might not be the same. I’ll definitely read more of My Brain Hurts."


" ... taken as a whole, My Brain Hurts is as a powerful and largely universal examination of what it means to be thrust, kicking and screaming, into the world of adulthood, and perhaps, most importantly of all, it’s a lesson to those in the throes of adolescence, that, no matter bad it gets, if you stick out, you’ll make it out alive."


"This two book series is about some gay New York punks that are staying true to themselves. They party, go to shows, drink, create mischief and mayhem, and get into trouble. It’s an amazing story that has a heart felt satisfaction. It's a story for the queers, I'ts a story for the punks, It's a story for the outcast, and its a story that every one should cherish. Don't get me wrong this book is not just about being gay. I believe it has a deeper meaning to it. i think it says " Life has it's ups and downs but you got to make you own path to the point ware you're happy."


"MY BRAIN HURTS is a fine first major work for a cartoonist, ambitious in its emotional scope and resonant in its themes."


"For all of the artistic emphasis that accompanies counter-cultural scenes, you’d think a subculture like the world of contemporary punk would have a lot more quality to show for itself. Sure, there have been some great works to emerge from the scene, many in the form of photocopied black and white zines, but when folks echo that long-uttered sentiment that punk is dead, it’s tough not to just nod your head and move on. What once was a vibrant scene generating great works of art has largely been reduced to watered-down whines of boring teen angst and recycled mall punk. This collection of Liz Baillie’s mini-comic, My Brain Hurts, manages to invoke some of the best moments of her “ziney” forebearers, following the stories of young punks in NYC. There are moments that boarder on melodrama, to be sure, but Baillie’s work manages to effectively tap into the ups and downs that are standard issue for the teenage world."


" ... The two volumes of graphic novel My Brain Hurts are punk-encrusted, gender-questioning explorations into complex relationships, designed with such a degree of realism that one wonders if they are perhaps autobiographical.

... Baillie’s strength is her ability to foresee what traps stereotypical teen stories could engage in and avoid them by taking the harder, less-obvious and infinitely more realistic route. Baillie shows and doesn’t tell. She doesn’t talk down to the reader, allowing them to form their own ideas and opinions about the book’s various “big picture” themes. Gender discourse is a prevalent theme throughout.

Baillie understands her audience well. The title of her comic series is taken from a classic Screeching Weasel album, and her panels are filled with nods to many punk classics (check out the various show posters adorning walls and buttons adorning jackets of many of the characters). She also understands gender politics and displays a subtle wit and resolve in her dialogue and in the way the story unfolds. A truly interesting read."


"Liz Baillie is representing comix DIY esthetic. Her collection, My Brain Hurts is a great trip into teen social issues. She creates some fine character filled with realistic issues on relatable terms. I highly recommend checking out her stuff, the collection is so cheap, you can’t pass it up."


" ... the stories are engaging and easily understood since we were all once teens; gay or not. Liz’s artistic talent is good and gets better with every page. I look forward to reading this continuing comic zine ..."


"Don't think this is your regular teen-angst after-school special. Baillie addresses issues about sexuality, child abuse, drugs, friendship and bigotry all while maintaining realistic storytelling through believable dialogue and characters."


“… halfway in she nails it, and these characters become vivid, sympathetic, and worthy of your powerful desire to protect them. Highly recommended.”


i loved this book, so did my friends! i found the characters really engaging and captivating, and can't wait to read volume 2


"This is by far the weirdest comic of its type for me. See, I’m not real big on the gay friends’ real life experience thing. Maybe it’s because so many of them come along in the mail that they all could be by the same person. This book, however, is more like a soap opera of the down-and-out punk gay people, if that makes any sense. I found it difficult to put this one down, especially when the Joey character seems to finally catch a break then goes into a coma. Go ahead, tell me that doesn’t sound like a soap opera. I must say, it is well written. One has to have some experience with the subculture to be able to present it so convincingly. This is a cool book, and I really am interested in what happens to these characters."


"My Brain Hurts follows the story of a bunch of teen age punks who are just trying to get through life. Whether it is the awakening lesbian feelings within the main character or the disapproval of her best friends father over his sexuality. They navigate the streets together, going to shows, going to school dealing with the prejudice of homophobia all the way.

Liz Baille’s story is realistic. It is not my story, but it sure sounds like it could have been the story of people that I know. The characters are realistic. The best friends father, while homophobic, is painted in a way that you see the true love he has for his son, even when he has no idea how to deal with him. In the hands of a lesser author, the father figure would have been a one dimensional caricature.

I liked this book, so much that I got a little mad when it ended, just like life, without resolution of some of the plot elements. I can’t wait for volume II."


This is a great, well-packaged collection of the first five issues of Liz Baillie’s affecting zine/comic.

My Brain Hurts follows a group of gay and lesbian high school kids as they clumsily seek sincere relationships and support each other through difficult and sometimes bleak situations (gender identity, parents, school, skinheads..).

The backdrop is punk rock - as in many of these stories, punk rock isn’t so much the soundtrack for alienation and conflict, but a life-saving escape from it. While the illustrations themselves aren’t terribly sophisticated, the narrative excels at conveying the joy and heartbreak of finding one’s way through a shitty world. That’s something anyone - punk or not, queer or not - can relate to.

My Brain Hurts is a terrific portrait of gay youth on a journey of self-discovery, and makes for a really terrific read. Kate is an instantly compelling and sympathetic character, even when she’s using poor judgment; you know this girl, you invest in her. That’s no mean feat for any creator, and Baillie pulls it off perfectly.

Baille's tales weave through the glitter and muck of figuring out the world when it seems it's harshest, and celebrating friendship and camraderie in the scene in the end. Recommended.

At its best, My Brain Hurts serves as a graphic counterpart to some of the best punk fiction, exploring the emotional depth of ‘zines like Cometbus and Burn Collector.

Microcosm, save my skull from being deadened by lots of bad music and giving me smarts to read instead! Yes, comics will suffice. Compiled from the first five issues of the comics-zine of the same name author/artist Liz Baille takes us through the lives of a few queer punks growing up in New York City.

What saves this graphic novel from being another angsty piece of self-indulgent fluff and elevates it above most in its genre is that Baillie's comic style allows the reader not only to voyage with the characters as they journey towards self-enlightenment, but also maintains a humorous edge which is badly needed considering some of the content. She deals with some heavy issues surrounding adolescents and growing up, and she does it with wit and chuckles and a few good one-liners. Cannot wait for volume two.

With her comic art, Baillie captures the awkwardness and difficulties of Kate’s young life with poignancy and potency. There’s a sequence of panels in Chapter 4 (page 9 of that chapter) in which Baillie draws Kate’s eyes in a way that depicts the fundamental sense of Kate feeling that she is being besieged by a world that hates her and how she presents herself to the world. It’s powerful stuff, and for a moment presents without fireworks the war many LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer/questioning) youth find themselves fighting. My Brain Hurts, Vol. 1 is comics as the really good, good stuff.

Aside from the rich drawings and Kate’s engaging personality, Baillie’s cast of characters is also amazing... Through chugging 40’s and adventurous games of spin-the-bottle, Kate finds her sexuality in a tangle of identity confusion. Underlying this youthful narrative is a political beat that keeps a steady rhythm on each enjoyable page. My Brain Hurts is a great series for queer youth and older queer activists to relish together.

"It's no secret that when it comes to depicting teens in comics, they are most likely to be both troubled and confused, both by society's desire to pigeonhole them into a suitable lifestyle or pattern and their own desire to figure it out on their own. Perhaps that isn't a totally new topic to deal with, but Liz Baillie's graphic novel "My Brain Hurts" illustrates this pendulous time perfectly, with echoes of personal struggles ricocheting throughout the story. The main character and her best friend try their best to figure out where they belong not only struggling with sexuality and school bullies but also alcoholism and drug experimentation. What saves this graphic novel from being another angsty piece of self-indulgent fluff and elevates it above most in its genre is that Baillie's comic style allows the reader not only to voyage with the characters as they journey towards self-enlightenment, but also maintains a humorous edge which is badly needed considering some of the content. She deals with some heavy issues surrounding adolescents and growing up, and she does it with wit and chuckles and a few good one-liners. Cannot wait for volume two."

"I think I’m in love with Liz, her graphic novel and brilliant designs, her acutely aware portraits of NYC teenagers in search of identity, meaning and acceptance. Such rich complexities that she so beautifully mines with empathetic wit and wonder. Call me an ardent fan, a near stalker admirer—I can’t wait for the next installments, to see how the stories continue."