Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
If you haven’t heard by now, this is the full title of Chester Brown’s latest graphic novel: “Paying for it. A comic strip memoir about being a john.” This book confirms my belief that courage is behind any kind of intellectual breakthrough, or not having living parents or not caring about what one’s parents care about and/or think. A lot of men could write this book but simply couldn’t. We’re called “cowards”, with living wives and parents and kids and responsible employers and whatnot.
Brown delivers on his premise as he details his many cartoonish romps with the many somewhat high priced prostitutes–not that I would know–he’s known. He’s even downright clinical about it.
Here’s a scene:
The whole comic is kind of like that. But its not simple or anything like that. It’s very contemplative about how Chester Brown goes about buying lots of poon and very attractive poon at that given his costs and the limitations of his spare line style. It should be stated up front that I didn’t find any of this to be a bit erotic in case you were looking for some cheap thrills, unless you’re aroused by stick figure porn. Some styles just don’t lend themselves to erotic fantasy. Your manhood won’t be stirred so to speak. Or: I grew up with Milo Manara, I read Milo Manara while in high school and Chester Brown you are no Milo Manara. Brown’s money shots felt to me no more inspired or riveting than watching a guy doing the dishes, with a variety of positions ranging from missionary to doggy style to reverse cowgirl to others I don’t know the names of.
But its a very good graphic novel that articulates a pro legalization position of prostitution that a lot of lesser men would agree with if my mother wasn’t alive and could read this. I also thought the sexual scenes were a bit pedestrian. I’ve even had more interesting “experiences”. Not that I have the courage to talk about them. However, I do know this fictional character named, uh, Philip Doppelganger, who has told me that he’s actually had more daring and interesting adventures with prostitutes in cars, various motels and even old time burlesque shows. “No threeways?” Mr. Doppelganger would exclaim. “With one girl sitting on your face and the other sitting on your other important area working you like a seesaw…? You Mr. Chester Brown are a non barebacking prude,” Mr. Doppelganger would again harumph, over some brunch, sipping a latte. He might not be entirely invisible.
But enough of fictional constructs and back to the book. Its actually two very good books in one. There’s a graphic novel which rates about a 3.9 to 4.2 out of five. You definitely benefit from rereading it, but its not great art. Think of one of the less memorable Woody Allen movies. But then there’s the greatest appendix ever that rates a 5.0 or think the biopic of Robert Crumb, who writes an introduction. It can only be described as a Bill of Rights for Legalized Prostitution. I think its the best argument I’ve read for it and I think it has the book’s best and most provocative writing.
Here’s a sample:
“Prostitution weakens the institution of marriage.”
Yes, it probably does. I don’t have a problem with that since I think marriage is an evil institution. I hope that fewer people will see possessive monogamy as an ideal. You should be in a sexual relationship with a particular person, not because you made a vow at some point in the past, but because right now in the present you want to be in a sexual relationship with that person.
Now you might not agree with that but it is interesting. He also makes the very candid argument that these are women who are making consensual choices as adults–not a correct choice for every woman certainly–and that johns aren’t the equivalent of child rapists and oppressors of the highest order. Or so that degenerate Mr. Doppelganger has explained to me, mom, who I’m hoping is continuing her habit of not reading my work because it won’t amount to anything.
Highly recommended. 4.81 out of 5 stars. Its rewarding just for the clarity and confidence of its argument. I also don’t mean just the courage to admit that you’re paying for it but to be very frank in stating–I think he says this indirectly by the way–that prostitution is sometimes a much less painful arrangement emotionally than romantic relationships with women. Or as that deranged pervert Mr. Doppelganger has told me: “A prostitute, unlike certain girlfriends, has never left me crying alone in the night wishing for death…”