Page 45 Review by Stephen
Fake it till you make it.
Outright deceit aside, thats actually not a bad adage for so many aspects of life.
Long-term facades are high-maintenance and Ive certainly no time for fakery in friendship otherwise you make all the wrong friends. But if Im ever feeling a little down in the shop I force myself to smile which itself releases endorphins and within minutes a customers shared enthusiasm rubs off on me and Im glowing again.
Slightly trickier is courage, which is only gained after finding some first.
Similarly what were talking about here is the chicken-and-the egg confidence conundrum when it comes to success with scoring. And I am specifically talking about scoring. Not love, not romance, not relationships, but picking up men or women and getting beyond second base. The more you succeed, the more confidence you gain, the more likely your chance of a conquest.
But if love is a drug then sex is far more addictive.
Our narrator, K, is actually quite chipper as this all kicks off. His flatmate Brian is carefree and confident and ridiculously successful at scoring. But on the first few pages without any front or finagling, K manages to turn a casual, earnest enquiry into an honest romance.
They move in together!
It doesnt work out.
Its at this low juncture, on Ks winter birthday, that hes caught all melancholy, brooding over snapshots of that failed relationship, despairing at remaining single forever, and Brian introduces him to Lovebug. Lovebug is a dating website. Brian schools our reluctant naïf in the art of securing dates not through openness and honesty but by working the system to maximum advantage.
Theres nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward its important to focus on all your positive aspects its sometimes difficult for some of us to recall but there are those pitfalls I touched on in lying: you attract all the wrong people. And, to begin with, K attracts all the wrong women.
Now wait! This was where I too was worried. I was worried that what I was seeing paraded in front of me, as well as K, were women with fault-lines deeper than San Andreas. Im a big fan of the foibles we share which is why I love Adrian Tomines OPTIC NERVE so much. Were none of us perfect. But I have a massive aversion to blanket misanthropy.
But trust in the creator of ABADDON! Thats not what this is about, and everything in my introduction will be addressed here including chauvinism. What this is about is dating sites, addiction, superficiality and self-esteem: because things grow much, much worse when K begins to succeed.
A new, insatiable greed started growing in me.
I had already wasted all this time either being single or in monogamous relationships.
If your eyebrows just arched as antagonistically high as mine at the term wasted either in conjunction with the words monogamous or single then welcome to my ceiling-split world. Sex is fab Im reasonably keen but self-validation through sex alone...?
I became arrogant and cocky. My attention span dropped to zero.
And the weirdest thing was, the more arrogant I became, the more luck I had with women.
Also: the happier he becomes! Hes finally in a place where he feels he can quit therapy because he doesnt feel so much of a loser. You cant begrudge him that! That has to be good, doesnt it? Yes, it does, if how you treat others is of no consideration to you what so fucking ever.
Ks self-woven web becomes increasingly tangled personally and professionally as an animator though not necessarily in the ways you might expect.
There is a glorious physicality to the art which revels in all sorts of female forms including in the more muscular like Robert Crumb did. And this is equally, sexually explicit in places. The forms are soft and round and fleshy well, the womens are. Ks a stick insect, and there is a masterful full-page panel when Taylor who herself falls for Robert Crumbs work once introduced reveals herself.
So, what do you think? she asks, proudly.
And he sits there, as slack-jawed as he is lank-limbed, timidly on the bed. Better still, the composition is such that the shot is seen from the floor where both Taylor and Ks feet rest horizontally, while she rises up so far above him that his line of sight's at eleven oclock, totally dominated by both her confidence and physique. The quadrilateral is completed on the left and right by their vertical bodies.
Joe Matt is a fan and I can see why. Ks eyes behind glasses are never more than a dot, dazzled by almost everything he encounters.
The colours are a warm combination of purples, pinks, browns and terracotta. Structurally this is set up in seasons and when summer arrives, you can sure feel the heat. Whatever the time of year, however, neither the internal nor external environments have been skimped on: where dates take place tends to play a very large role in what transpires, doesnt it? Brian will provide his own knowledgeable masterclass on that issue too.
Each date is numerically catalogued at the beginning of each chapter, then introduced by one colour-coded text each from K and whoever hes meeting because thats how their contacts been developed after the initial sites hook-up.
I love the final pages ellipsis. I think that will make you smile.