Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir about Being a John

Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir about Being a John

by Chester Brown
     
 

A CONTEMPORARY DEFENSE OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION

Chester Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, The Playboy, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, Louis Riel, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book

Overview

A CONTEMPORARY DEFENSE OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION

Chester Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, The Playboy, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, Louis Riel, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book won wide acclaim and cemented Brown's reputation as a true innovator.

Paying for It is a natural progression for Brown as it combines the personal and sexual aspects of his autobiographical work with the polemical drive of Louis Riel. Brown calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but a vocal proponent of one of the world's most hot-button topics—prostitution. While this may appear overly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Brown's story stands for itself. Paying for It offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work—from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern-day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of clichéd street corners, drugs, or pimps.

Complete with a surprise ending, Paying for It provides endless debate and conversation about sex work and will be the most talkedabout graphic novel of 2011.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A compelling look into one man's history of employing prostitutes as a replacement for romantic love, this graphic novel is sure to create controversy. Brown has produced acclaimed but brutally honest autobiographical works before, but here he adds a new didactic element. In June 1996 Brown's then girlfriend broke up with him. After three years of celibacy and his growing conviction that romantic love is destructively possessive, Brown works up the courage to see a legal prostitute and finds the "burden" of anxiety over whether to pursue a relationship with any particular woman forever removed. The next 200 pages are an explicit—but far from erotic—dossier of the various women he did business with, until he meets one that he ends up with in a monogamous—but still financial—relationship. Although Brown intends the work to be a compassionate look at a profession that helps people, he unfortunately goes out of his way to anonymize the sex workers—never showing their faces and telling the story in tiny, cramped panels, giving the whole thing a voyeuristic feel. A lengthy appendix arguing that a system where paying for sex is preferable to romance-based methods is unlikely to persuade many readers. (May)
From the Publisher

“It has the thoroughness of a history book yet reads with the personalized vision of a novel.” —Time on Louis Riel

“If you love to read a gripping story, if you are awed by the talent of an artist, then look no further:Chester Brown's Louis Riel is comix history in the making, and with it, history never looked so good.” —The Globe and Mail Book Review on Louis Riel

Library Journal
It's 1996, and Canadian alternative cartoonist Brown's (Louis Riel) live-in girlfriend finds another love. Deciding he's done with the "boyfriend" role, Brown renounces romance and, after several years, decides to rent his partners. Gradually, he learns the ins and outs of hiring sex workers: finding appealing prospects, making contact, negotiating a successful encounter, tipping, and moving on if not satisfied. By 2003, he has found Denise, a professional escort who pleases him fully, and he falls in love with her. He does not, however, attempt to change their relationship from professional to personal. Brown draws in small, careful panels. He renders himself physically plain, and the sexual episodes, while frank, are presented in a style more clinical than erotic. The story comes across in remembered vignettes, thought balloons, and conversations among Brown and his cartoonist pals, in which they debate the merits of commercial sex compared with romance. A meaty afterword allows Brown to sound off at length about legalizing prostitution. VERDICT Candid memoirs about being a john are rare in prose as well as in comics, and this controversial and thoughtful case study should make fine fodder for classroom discussions. For adult collections, especially academic libraries.—M.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781770460485
Publisher:
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication date:
05/24/2011
Pages:
292
Sales rank:
1,207,971
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Chester Brown lives in Toronto, where he ran for Parliament in the general election as a member of the Libertarian Party of Canada.

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