Confession time, I have never liked Chester Brown's work. I read a bunch of his stuff when I graduated from university as well the works of friends Joe Matt and Seth. It never really stuck with me. Because while I loved Seth's WAR ON THE NEIGHBORHOOD--a memoir of squatting in NYC--the works of Joe Matt and Chester Brown never reached beyond their own navels, or in this case, cocks.
They are great storytellers and cartoonists for sure, but to what end? Do we need yet another memoir about a socially-awkward guy visiting prostitutes and treating them like interchangeable stress relief machines? No. I don't think we do.
The creepiest part here is that Brown goes out of his way
to depersonalize the prostitutes: he removes their faces.
'Paying For It' Without Regret: An Intriguing Graphic Memoir Of Prostitution : Monkey See : NPR
Brown believes that prostitution is a logical and healthy choice for him, and the women he engages, to make. His friends disagree, for a host of reasons. Paying For It is, at its cool, affectless heart, an argument for a deeply unpopular position, and as such it seems destined to become one of the most controversial memoirs of the year, graphic or otherwise.
. . .
Because again and again, a puzzling but doubtlessly intentional tension arises between Brown's text and his imagery. Consider, for example, his stated aim to depict the many women he's paid to have sex with him as accurately as possible, using as much of their own words as he can recall from his notes. Yet, to protect their identities, he changes their names, hair color and — in his most unsettling and fascinating choice — he depicts them with their heads turned away from the reader. This, of course, cannot help but reduce these very different women, and their stories, to a series of literally faceless, interchangeable objects. Brown knows this, just as he knows that by continually choosing to depict the sex as he does — so that we suddenly find ourselves at a far remove, gazing down at two tiny copulating figures suspended in inky blackness — he's causing us to view the sex as clinical, joyless and repetitive.