Wednesday, March 26, 2014

31 Days of Short Reviews #26: Guido Crepax

Guido Crepax's adaptation of Pauline Raege's The Story of O matches up an artist with astounding skills with subject matter I have little interest in. The Italian artist was well-known for his psychedelic/erotic style of art in his Valentina series, but The Story of O takes that to another level. Years before the pedestrian Fifty Shades of Grey series, The Story of O brought bondage & discipline/sado-masochism (BDSM) to public consciousness like a hammer. It is a perfect marriage of text and image, as Crepax correctly focuses on the degradation and humiliation aspects of the sexual transactions rather than emphasize the actual erotic quality of the sexual acts themselves. His women are beautiful but slender and the men range from beautiful to trollish, which in itself is a function of how degrading their floggings, forced penetrations, and general state of being dominated at any given time happen to be. The very spare plot starts with the titular O being "trained" at a house called Roissy, then moves on to her lover sharing her with his half-brother (an even cruel master), then moves on to her seducing another woman into the lifestyle, and concludes with her being branded and experiencing the thrill of total submission. The comic simply illustrates, in loving detail and with a dizzying array of complicated page layouts, every act of pain and humiliation that O experiences. It makes no attempt whatsoever at trying to explain how or why she got into this relationship or why submission is something she wanted so desperately, as the book simply starts off at Roissy. Her lovers indicate that she's free to leave at any time, but if she's to stay with them, she must submit totally. The book's greatest triumph is that it manages to balance its pleasure schedule, so to speak, to both dominants and submissives, as the book is told from the point of view at both at various times. This book unapologetically gets at the heart of BDSM from the very first page and is totally unrelenting. For some, this will be a bonus. For others, this adaptation released multiple times from NBM's Eurotica line will be good reason to stay away.

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