Graphic Novel Friday: Paying for It by Chester Brown

In case you are feeling at all apathetic towards comics, allow me to point you in the direction of Chester Brown’s Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir about Being a John. Yes, the widely respected cartoonist has published a first-hand, 280-page account of his life as a customer in the sex-trade. It’s unflinching in its honesty (and adult content), and yet once the voyeuristic allure wanes, what remains is a frank, convincing look at a lifestyle that few readers will recognize.

After a break-up with his live-in girlfriend, Brown decides to continue cohabitating with her even when she openly brings home another man. It’s a revelation for the artist, realizing he doesn’t need that emotional tether, but he does miss the physical nature of their relationship. Naturally, Brown turns to sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, whose book details suggestions for exploring prostitution (“He makes it sound so simple and straightforward. Maybe I should pay for sex…Okay, I’m determined--tonight I’m going to go out and look for a hooker.”). And then Brown hops aboard his bicycle and pedals into the night, where he encounters only cop cars (“This is weird.”) and opts to return home to try the classifieds instead.

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