SPENT by Joe Matt


by & illustrated by
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The cartoonist tests the limits of pathetic self-absorption in a volume that should appeal to his cult following but is unlikely to expand it.

The work of graphic-diarist Matt (Peepshow, 2003) is practically review-proof, for any criticism one could make he has already flagellated upon himself. His obsessive focus remains the life of Matt, though even he questions why anyone else could possibly be interested. He’s geeky (at least within these drawings) even by the standards of his fellow geek-comics, who are the closest thing he has to friends, though they spend most of their time together either criticizing or ridiculing him. During the mid-1990s, as detailed in these panels, he lives in a Toronto flophouse with a shared bathroom (which he generally avoids in favor of a bottle in his bedroom). He’s consumed with his collection of bootleg pornography, which he has painstakingly edited into marathon video anthologies of the “good” parts. He masturbates eight or ten times a day, leaving less time, energy and inspiration (as the title suggests) for the graphic narratives that barely earn him a living. Fortunately, for a man of meager income, he’s notoriously cheap. He laments the girlfriend he lost and wishes he had another, though he’s unsure whether such flesh-and-blood complications would be worth sacrificing his porn collection. On video, he favors submissive Asian women; out the window, he fixates on schoolgirl uniforms and wonders whether he might be a pedophile. Interspersed with ruminations on Matt’s tawdry adult existence are flashbacks to his Pennsylvania boyhood that provide some clues as to how he ended up this way. The spirit of the underground era lives in these comics, which make no attempt at graphic-novel respectability.

Not for kids, though adult readers should take some pleasure knowing that they’re better off than Matt, at least as depicted here.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-897299-11-1
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2007