Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reading a Graphic novel

You are always looking for sex when you are reading a graphic novel. Firstly there are the panels, a few of them, three or four that show the protagonist in bed with someone. It is always furtive sex, abortive, drunken, unwanted, prematurely over, clumsy, full of apologies and ending in regret. There is something so truthful about the sex in a graphic novel. Of course they leave out the hysterical laughter, the play, the segue into some other game, but they leave in the stretchmarks and the middle age spread, or the teenage acne.

There is more to it, of course than the four or so panels of naked entanglement, there is the rolling over from one panel into the other. There is the physical negotiation of the space that often feels a little like a dance except if you imagine that you are naked and the artist is that awkward, prematurely ejaculating nerd in those three or four panels, and he often is. Or that girl who feels lost and empty and awkward and misunderstood. With a small shift of perspective, this dance is lovemaking, you and the artist via the slow waltz of images. You are physically embracing this story, you and he or she. You are following the same side step back step down step and you could physically merge with the ink, the colour overwhelms you, a muted colour, not a gloss, just a pale tan or blue or sepia.

And sometimes you are so enchanted with the work that you flip back to that single panel, the one where there is a breast displayed, or a flaccid penis beside a stain of semen on the sheets. So you masturbate, but not with your usual distracted leaping from clip to clip, abandoning the images ultimately and burying yourself in what should by now be a tired old scenario with your current crush. This time you settle on the quiet embarrassment of a single frame and you are there with it. You have entered it. You have become that sad flaccid boy in the disappointment of a bed. You have become the artist inking the panel, alone in his grandmother's basement with cold Chinese takeaway returning slowly to its glutenous roots at your elbow. You are colour and you are form and you are the slow dance of image after image paused for long enough that you can orgasm in sepia and washed-out blue.

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