paying for it

A graphic memoir by a veteran cartoonist:

A painfully honest accounting of Brown’s hiring women for sex (yes, not all the sex on this blog is gay sex — though there is a Page here for postings about male prostitution) and, separately (in a set of appendices, pp. 229-80), a case for the decriminalization of sex work.

(I’d hoped to give a sample from the memoir, but the drawings are so small that the text can’t be read in a simple reproduction, and is too fuzzy to be read in an enlargement. So I’ll have to type out some dialogue from one chapter, about Brown’s cartooning.)

On Brown, from Wikipedia:

Chester William David Brown (born 16 May 1960) is a Canadian cartoonist.

Brown has gone through several stylistic and thematic periods. He gained notice in alternative comics circles in the 1980s for the surreal, scatological Ed the Happy Clown serial. After bringing Ed to an abrupt end, he delved into confessional autobiographical comics in the early 1990s and was strongly associated with fellow Toronto-based cartoonists Seth and Joe Matt, and the contemporary autobiographical comics trend. Two graphic novels came from this period: The Playboy (1992) and I Never Liked You (1994). Surprise mainstream success in the 2000s came with Louis Riel (2003), a historical-biographical graphic novel about rebel Métis leader Louis Riel. Paying for It (2011) drew controversy as a polemic in support of decriminalizing prostitution.

Brown draws from a range of influences, including monster and superhero comic books, underground comix, and comic strips such as Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie. His later works employ a sparse drawing style and flat dialogue. Rather than the traditional method of drawing complete pages, Brown draws individual panels without regard for page composition and assembles them into pages after completion. Since the late 1990s Brown has had a penchant for providing detailed annotations for his work and extensively altering and reformatting older works.

And specifically about this book:

Paying for It, “a comic strip memoir about being a john”, is a 2011 graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown. A combination of memoir and polemic, the book explores Brown’s decision to give up on romantic love and to take up the life of a “john” by frequenting prostitutes. The book, published by Drawn and Quarterly, was controversial, and a bestseller.

The book is concerned with Brown’s conflicting desire to have sex, but not wanting to have another girlfriend after his partner Sook-Yin Lee breaks up with him. His solution is to forgo traditional boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and marriage. He takes up frequenting prostitutes, and comes to advocate prostitution as superior to the “possessive monogamy” of traditional male–female relations, which he debates with his friends throughout the book.

Now, Chapter 6, “Back to Anne”, starting on p. 85 with Anne and Chester (using the name Steve) lying naked in bed together and talking:

June 14th, 1999

1 Anne: You draw comic books? That’s interesting.

2 The next time you come to see me, you should bring me one. I used to like Archie comics.

3 Chester: My stuff’s quite different from Archie, but I’ll bring you something.

June 19th, 1999

1 Chester: You aske me for a copy of one of my comic books.

2 Anne: Oh yeah, you brought one?
Chester: Before I show it to you I should explain —

3 — when I first started paying for sex I was paranoid about it, so I used a fake name. Steve isn’t my real name.

4 This is my real namr — Chester.

5 Anne: Your real name is Chester? What’s this name? Loo-is Rye-el?
Chester: That’s the title of the comic. It;s about Louis Riel.

6 He led two rebellions against the Canadian government in the nineteenth century. You probably studied his story in history class in school.

7 Anne: Oh yeah. Is this, like, a funny version of the story?
Chester: No, not really. Anyway, you can have thar copy.

8 Anne: Thanks. Now I’ve got something to read later.
Chester: You’re welcome.

9 [Anne goes down on Chester}

Comics in the comics.

 

One Response to “paying for it”

  1. Mike Says:

    Vis-à-vis paying for sex, I thought what Charlie Sheen said was interesting, “I didn’t pay those women to have sex with me. I paid them to go home afterward.”

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