The Pervert OGN Review; It Impresses Because it Achieves
Story: Michelle Perez
Art/Cover: Remy Boydell
Publisher: Image Comics
Release date: April 25, 2018
You might expect to find a comic about an adolescent exploring a transgressive sexual space as an illustrated dog somewhere. I thought I had found it with Hardiman’s The Lengths, and so I did not expect The Pervert. Moreover, I did not expect it to work a second time. However, The Pervert proved me wrong.
The Pervert emerges from episodes of our main character’s life, some of which appeared in the Eisner nominated anthology Island. Through these scenes we meet a trans girl who’s from Michigan, but now works in Seattle as a sex worker. Because of its fragmented beginnings, the. graphic novel’s story is not a plotted tale. Don’t worry, a plot of a kind does lead the episodes to an ending. The Pervert is not that avant-garde.
Still, The Pervert’s structure might turn some people away. If you consider learning a character’s name as a narrative payoff, good, because that’s the closest you’ll get to one. The novel lets down their guard so that you meet our character and learn their demons. Tom, a client, is really the only person who breaks into the story in any definite way. The others are just sort of there. The relationship between Tom and the main character singlehandedly moves The Pervert along. Beyond that, and really even then, you’re not driven to read, but occasionally flick through.
The Pervert does demand something from the reader, but I found exploring the character more than worthwhile.
I’ll readily admit that The Pervert’s art played a great part in my pleasure. Even though I gladly continued, I probably wouldn’t have been as willing without Remy Boydell’s gorgeous panels. Actually, as The Pervert’s so nebulous, the fact that it works might only be due to its art. The watercolour style employed conveys the emotional weight of each panel, which allows the novel to remain reticent. For instance, Tom’s world consists almost entirely of greys and browns, which as drab as it sounds invokes pity in its own mute way.
The parts in which this “show don’t tell” approach does the most to hold the book together is in-between the episodes. Between each story a splash panel depicts an ordinary cityscape scene, like a brick wall or a telephone pole. Nothing happens and it is easy to pass over, but you should really pause for a second. These moments in which nothing really happens but somehow inform everything seem to capture The Pervert perfectly.
So would I recommend The Pervert? Yes, but I would also warn that it isn’t a passive read. I would also recommend keeping watch on these two in case they collaborate again.
The most impressive aspect of The Pervert, though, is what it achieves. It tells the story of a trans individual without flattening them to a cliche, which it could do easily. It’s encouraging to see more examples of this in an industry that gets regularly lambasted for being regressive, even though they aren’t quite mainstream yet. So, although two examples of transgressive characters portrayed as dogs isn’t a genre, I look forward to finding more.
In case you are interested in The Lengths but won’t follow the link, here is a page from it.
If you like The Pervert, you’ll probably like this one too.