Paying for ItBook | Chester Brown By Phil Guie
A cartoonist’s candid look at his experiences with prostitutes.
Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown has made a career out of writing and illustrating deeply personal, confessional comics. His latest, Paying for It, which addresses his attitude about sex after years of frequenting prostitutes, is no exception. The book opens with his last girlfriend saying she wants to call off their romantic relationship, but remain friends and roommates: in other words, maintain intimacy, but without sex. After an interval of pondering whether to pay for an escort, Brown realizes that what he wants is carnal satisfaction without emotional baggage. While Paying for It is a meticulous account of the author's experiences with various women-for-hire, it's not as titillating or lusty as one might expect given the subject matter. Brown's cartooning style—page after page of eight-panel layouts and title cards—betrays a care and thoughtfulness that's at odds with someone bragging about all the women he's slept with. And while sex acts are depicted, Brown devotes more attention to pre- and post-coital interactions with the escorts (whose real identities he goes out of his way to protect), and to conversations with friends and loved ones about the moral and ethical implications of paying for sex. As a result, Paying for It feels like a work of the mind rather than the loins—and is all the more fascinating for it.