Every Chester Brown's story is a gem – and quite often a gem where he kinda strips naked, both figuratively and literally.
While Paying for It was Brown's recent autobiographic ode to the joys and dangers of paid sex, The Playboy is another brilliant comic memoir of his, focused on his adolescent passion for Playboy mag, masturbation, guilt and shame.
I know not all of you are able to enjoy it – still, I find this book totally adorable.
A few days ago our friends came over for a visit, a married couple with three little girls. So the kids started playing, and then my wife realized that one of them, the eldest girl who's about ten years old, is very, extremely quiet, cuddled up and reading a book in a corner. And so she did for twenty minutes or so. Now, my wife thinks: what a nice little girl, but I wonder, what is the book that she's so immersed into? So she glances over her shoulder…
Why am I telling you all this?
Cause Chet Brown made a fantastic book. With a pinch of raving madness, this is a mid-eighties comic strip about a hole to the parallel universe that ends up (in this brave new universe) in a working lad's ass, a book full of blood craving vampires, cannibal pigmies that live in the sewer, a talking penis (!) with the President Ron Reagan's head attached to it (yikes!!), masturbations, castrations, religious punishment, giant hydraulic presses that pump America's shit in this lovely parallel universe (i.e. a guy's arse!), a severed human hand that crawls in search of its prey – whichever madness, you name it, it's all there. This is the most feverishly sick and the most sickly feverish story I've seen in a while. Groovy!
So yeah, keep the adult books well locked up, huh 😉
Imagine a comic book on the story of Stepan Razin or, I dunno, the Decabrist movement. This is what this Louis Riel comic bio is – a story of a renowned Canadian freedom fighter, statesman and politician, hanged by the neck at the end.
Chester Brown has always claimed it to be his masterwork – maybe so indeed, but I prefer his autobio books like Paying For It much more.
Truth be told, Brown must’ve studied quite a few books on Riel – as it shows him with all the weaknesses and controversies. Ah, whatever – not the worst 1.5hr read I’ve had in my life.
Joe Matt is merciless to himself – and I guess, gets more and more so with each book he writes (draws). The Poor Bastard precedes Spent, Matt's well known book depicting his lifelong addiction to masturbation and porn – and Bastard is from pre-Spent times, when Joe had girlfriends or aspired to have them at least.
The funniest is chapter 1, no doubt, The Girl from Ipanema story, describing Joe's big time crush on his girlfriend's Trish co-worker named Frankie – and how Trish finds out about this from a comic strip. Classic.
Funniest about it is that it turned out to be not a fictitious character – I did enjoy reading the interview with the original Frankie girl, who also found out about her being Joe's crush from this book.
Insecure and picky about girls' looks, Matt keeps on trying to find his one and only in bold and unsavvy moves. Overall, sheer fun. Sveta from Ivanovo отдыхает.
And yet again, I had no idea what I was buying. I only knew that Joe Matt is one of the three prominent comic book artists who stayed friends and put each other in their books while they lived and worked in Canada (for those not too familiar with the scene, that’s Chester Brown, Seth and Joe himself) – but just like with Chet’s last book, oh well, who knew.
They all have addictions of a sort. Chester, as I recently found out, is hooked on paid sex, Seth – on collecting comic book strips from early 20th century – and Joe – just to cut it short – this book is about Joe’s addiction to porn and masturbation – and how that drives his life. Too low on self-respect, too deep in self-dissection, too busy with porn collection, too tired from you-know-what. Quite on par with Chester’s very frank book already mentioned above on his dedication and love for the red light industry – but our friend Joe is living in a pre-www world and is focusing on his big VHS porn collection instead, which he even edits! Poor soul, a few more years and it all would come to him in all shapes and colors on the net.
All in all, Joe is funny, he is smart and he is ruthless to himself – no doubt, I need to read more of his.
What a wholesome book. Best comic strip I’ve read this year, totally – many other contestants included. Indeed, it’s more than one book – it’s two, packed under a single cover.
The full title of this gem, which is the actual book that is being marketed and sold (D & Q remains the best publishing house for serious comic strips, every new title just proves that again and again), is Paying for it. A comic-strip memoir about being a john. Now, I realize how unbelievably dumb that sounds – but I have not given a single thought what this book was about until I started reading it. Really. Just bought Chester Brown’s new book on amazon, no thoughts ’bout it. Well, the usual me.
I should say, it takes a guy certain deal of courage to write and put out such a book. Why? Cause people are judgmental and mean, and there are not too many open-minded folks (and publishers) in this world who would want to market a book about its author’s 15-year long sexual encounters with prostitutes, chronologically described, and how now his life-long commitment is to paid sex only. Yes, I know Márquez put out Memoria de mis putas tristes – but it ain’t an autobiographic graphic novel, is it?
The comic rocks – it’s extremely sincere, open and truly libertarian in its views. But it’s just one half of the story. The other half – or the other book, whichever you call it – just adds to its glory. The comic strip ends on page 225, and on the next 40+ pages (called appendix) Brown expresses his extremely libertarian and pro-human-rights points of view, all aimed at disambiguation of prejudice related to paid sex industry and its proponents. Views so clearly elaborated that it would have made the good old Alisa Rosenbaum proud. Take this small piece on marriage and partner selection, for example – here goes Dagny, huh?
All in all, an absolute gem. Prior to that, I only read Brown’s I Never Liked You, but now I’m ordering whatever I can get my hands on to.
P.S. NY Times review about it – and a couple of pages from the book.