The Pervert Review

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Posted April 25, 2018 by Chad Waller in Comic Books

Written By: Michelle Perez

Art By: Remy Boydell

Published By: Image

I’m going to start this review off with a fairly reductive summary of Pervert: It’s furry porn if furry porn were literature. Now, that’s doing it a bit of a disservice, because while the comic is full of sex, it’s not really porn. And while it’s filled with talking-animal people, I wouldn’t peg it as furry either. It’s an aesthetic, and one that fits the book. That being said, furry porn + literature is is a sentence I never thought I’d get to write, so here we are.

It’s also a selling point if you’re into that sort of thing. I for one am [redacted]!

Pervert hits a few spots most stories won’t dare to tread. It’s about a sex worker and what it’s like to have sex be your source of income, about what that does to you and how you end up viewing people because of it. It’s also about being transgender and dealing with people through that lens. It’s also about sex in general, what sex is to people, how it can be good, how it can be bad, and everything found in between. Finally, it’s about sexuality and how fluid, stupid, and confusing that can be.

Sex is complicated. So is life. So are people.

The comic is called Pervert, though I don’t think the main character is a pervert. She’s complicated, but she’s also living a complicated life. We don’t get a full picture of how she got into this business, but guesses can be made. No one raises their hand in kindergarten and says “I want to grow up to be an escort!” You expect astronaut or Lara Croft, not prostitute. No, this nameless protag is not a pervert, even if sex is almost exclusively what she thinks and talks about.

See, it’s not painted as fun or sexy. Yes there’s loads of sex and nudity in this book, but most of the scenes are cold and calculated. It’s a business transaction. Our nameless protag is playing a part, a role. There’s a sex scene that starts off focusing on a rather large penis and then on a lamp. The thought: “If he gets violent, I can use that lamp to knock him out.” There’s no joy in the sex. There’s no intimacy. There’s money, and there’s danger, but it’s not a sexy danger–it’s real danger.

Pervert gets to the heart of what it’s like to be a sex worker in a way that I’ve never seen done in…well, any medium really. It’s a far cry from the Sunstones and Small Favors of the comic book medium.

There’s a hollowness to the main character’s existence. Even when she is having fun, there’s this cloud over her head. That cloud is caused by a smorgasbord of problems, all of which come back to the same thing: this character is poor, needs money, and people will have sex with her for money.

People like to have sex with her because they she a penis, so really, the sex is half degrading on top of all the other negative things mentioned. This character is an object.

It’s funny in an ironic sort of way, but the first real connection we see this character have through sex comes from a conversation between her and a camgirl living in Europe. They talk work–sex–but it’s in a way they can both relate to. It’s also not a sexy conversation. It’s fairly cold like everything else, fairly business, but there’s this, “Oh, I’m not alone” aspect to it that’s really uplifting.

I know I should touch on the transgender and sexuality aspects, but I’m not really sure how qualified I am to do so. I like them; I like how they’re handled and am glad to see the inclusivity. I like how the book opens with a man getting penetrated and insisting that he’s not gay. I like how that says something about our society and how we view sexuality and gender. I like how the main character prefers to be the “boy” in her line of work, even if she doesn’t want to be a boy. However, I’m not going to churn four paragraphs out on it because I’m afraid I’ll say something wildly stupid and not true.

It’s good though. The whole book is good.

I will, however, touch on the art. It too is good, but in a very disarming way. When I say furry, I’m not talking something like this, but more like this. That’s Arthur from that kid’s cartoon, Arthur. It’s cute, and it’s maybe a little childish, and here it’s used to depict a lot of sex. There’s a dissonance to it, like it doesn’t belong, but then, that sort of fits the whole book. It’s its own character, a style that doesn’t want to be used to for smut yet it’s wound up doing so anyways. We take odd roads through life.

The panels and drawings themselves are fine. There aren’t any real interesting layouts; the book is typically two sets of four panels with some bigger ones thrown in here and there. They all look nice though, and the predictability in page layouts means your focus is always on the characters and what they’re doing. There are big white gutters between the panels too, so they aren’t all squished together. Despite a somewhat claustrophobic layout then, there’s a lot of freedom to be found.

I also like the talking animals, but I’m a sucker for them. They’re used well here though, to add another layer of personality to everyone without needing a lot of extra dialogue. It’s how the talking-animal aesthetic should be used.

Now, I’m going to end this on a really strange nitpick, and one that has little bearing on the story at all but bothered me anyways. The main character is from Michigan, and she doesn’t want to go back. Fair. I’ve never been to Michigan, but I know that the Midwest is filled with pockets–some big–of people who would not react kindly to what’s going on here. That being said, I just don’t quite jive with the way the entire area is painted. I understand that it’s not about the area itself. Michigan is a metaphor for some past tragedy and for a personal character failing, and it makes sense that the protag wouldn’t want to go back. Yet the imagery used is almost exclusively about deer hunting, which comes off as kind of strange to me because deer hunting is generally a good thing. It makes people happy, controls a pest problem, and tastes really good. The shock here isn’t the sex but the bit of violence at the end, of someone shooting a deer, and I get what’s trying to be said, I really do, I just don’t like how it’s being said.

I also live in the Midwest and quite like it here, so there’s some personal clouds covering what is inherently a really good idea. I appreciate it; I just don’t like some of the execution.

And there you have it. Pervert is a really wonderful character study involved in a bunch of things most media are too uncomfortable to talk about. Instead of picking one thing, this one takes it all. It’s badass.  I’m not sure it’s for most readers out there, but I’m glad I read it.


About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.