Crass Sophisticate #11

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Crass Sophisticate #11 Creator(s): Josh Reinwald and Justin Rosenberg
Publishers: Self Published
From: USA
Price: US $ 1.50

I have, in the past, been quite critical of previous editions of this title. Mainly because as the creators walk the narrow line between bad taste and offensiveness they, all too often, tend to drift towards the later. Imagine my trepidation then when I received their latest offering, subtitled “The Masturbation Issue.” Any possible misunderstanding about what the comic was about was quickly clarified by the creators themselves who described it with the following pithy comment, “It’s about jacking off.” So there is no chance of saying that we were not warned then is there.

What was surprising though was the fact that I found that this comic dealt with a very ‘touchy’ subject [sorry but that pun was simply too good to let slip by] with considerable sympathy. Now I realise that the creators may well be offended at having the adjective ‘sympathetic’ attached to their comic but sometimes the truth hurts.

The portrayal of a severe teenage masturbator wracked with guilt, is effective and appropriately embarrassing. His humiliation at being a ‘discovered’ masturbator will make even the most callous reader cringe and feel a more than a twinge of sympathy. The fact that this tale of teenage shame is narrated by an adult merely adds to the intensity of the shame as it is obvious that the whole scenario has scarred him past his teenage years. The narrator is an unpleasant and unlikeable individual and that again is an effective aspect of this tale as his less than pleasant personality can at least in part be attributed to events that took place many years before.

The only other character who surpasses the narrator on the unpleasant scale is his father. His main concern at discovering his son’s obsession is that he is a straight wanker and not a gay one.

The art presented here is still raw and rough but there is an increasing depth of detail and it shows an increasing control and visual awareness. Likewise the storyline is tighter; the narrative builds tension and effectively draws the reader into this sordid little tale of teenage tragedy. It is a nice touch [there I go again] to make a violent video game a solution to the problem, well for a little while at least.

As always ‘Crass Sophisticate’ is an uncomfortable read but this latest issue goes beyond merely trying to repulse and actually captures an intense emotional situation with a good deal of care.

The second shorter story deals with a similar topic [well the same topic really] but from an adult’s [possibly the same adult] perspective. It is a return to the more tacky side of this title. I guess though that this is only appropriate after all it wouldn’t be right to finish a copy of “Crass Sophisticate’ and not feel a little sullied.

In a Word: Jerky.

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