Paying For It

Paying for ItPaying for It by Chester Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting but passionless graphic memoir about being a “John”. Given his declaration of the failure of romantic love (at lease for him) I suppose it is natural that this who story is passionless. Chester Brown is a very analytical kind of guy, even when dealing with his...well, with his penis. Even at the end where he admits having feelings for and being (at least on his part) monogamous with a prostitute it is very thought out and clearly decided upon. I suspect, but don't know, that he is a libertarian of the Randian ilk since his thinking is what I think an “Objectivist” is like.

But there is really only one part that directly points to a libertarian world view , where he is discussing with Seth the morality of prostitution and mad thought balloons erupt over Chester's head as Seth presents some straw man argument against prostitution. Up to that time the graphically presented conversations for and against paying for sex were at a personal level and seemed more honest. I get it, you have to put up with your “liberal” friends and their faulty thinking.

So, I liked it. But 200 and some pages of very controlled drawings about how you came to know and use hookers is a strain. He is a different type of cartoonist (I hope he doesn't mind the term). I think of comic books, graphic novels and such as a medium of some exaggeration but with Brown it is the reverse. So maybe it is just me rebelling against what I see as going against the whole reason for telling stories in a ”comic book” format. I think all the frames are the same and the margins are so big it makes the graphic flow seem all the more distant. And the type is so small I feel like reading with a magnifying glass, although that might be because my eyesight is growing worse.

Thinking about the book I feel the visual story telling is better than I first thought, probably since the feel of the book is so analytical that you might miss that it is graphically told.

The thing is, I heard him interviewed and he told of as a teenager wanting to drawing superhero comics which I see as very expressive and often over top or even “cartoon-ish” in their expression. But this book has the feel of a an emotional star collapsing in on itself with all emotion and passion becoming more and more compressed and restrained. Then there are all the hand lettered footnotes about prostitution which I skipped. The felt like it was just him trying to justify his views and actions, but why bundle that with a bunch of drawings. But, that is just me.

Just after this I read Stitches by David Smalls, which is a wildly different book (review to follow) but I felt like he really used drawings as an integral part of the story telling. But, still..read this book.

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