Finally read Joe Matt’s “Spent,” a graphic novel I’d picked up at SPX on a couple recommendations and a deal at the Drawn and Quarterly booth. I realized something, and that’s that “slice of life” comix are softening and softening in their appeal to me because… I’ll sound like a dick saying this, but because my life is more interesting than that of a cartoonist.
This wasn’t always true! When I was 17, 18, 19, and I was a frustrated high school/college kid, the lives of guys like Harvey Pekar were illuminating and fascinating. Middle-class lives of drudgery flinted with occasional celebrity, troublesome romances, sexual frustration. Right now, though, I’m out of college and 1)living in Washington, DC with 2)a job reporting politics and interviewing prominent people and 3)friends who do the same, and are themselves prominent essayists/pundits/scoundrels. Despite that–and even though I have a blog–I really don’t think my daily personal struggles are that interesting.
“Spent” is nothing but daily personal struggles. Joe Matt, a truly talented cartoonist, crystallizes four moments in his life from 1994 to 2002 where… not much happens. In the first he buys a comic strip collection that Seth wants, then borrows some porn to create his own dubbed tape. In the final one he masturbates 21 times in a day, gets in a fight with his editor, and wails about his wasted life. I was left thinking… “so?”