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Peepshow #14

Written and illustrated by Joe Matt
Drawn & Quarterly
24-page comic book, #4.95

Wait... this is a parody of an autobiographical comic book, right...?

Okay, I kid. Hell, I've heard Joe Matt describe the current storyline himself. True story: After attending the Eisner Awards Ceremony in San Diego a few years back, Gary Groth, Chris Oliveros, Seth, Joe Matt, a few miscellaneous Fantagraphics employees and (I think) someone from The Beguiling went off to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and I tagged along out of curiosity. While we were waiting for our food, Gary wound up asking Joe why Peepshow didn't come out more often.

"Well... I've been busy," Joe replied hesitantly.

"Doing what?" Groth asked.

"Ummm... you've been reading my comic, right?" Matt said.

"No," Gary replied. "What have you been busy doing?"

"Well... I've been using VHS machines to edit these videos..."

"You've started working in television?"

"No..."

 

These panels and above ©2006 Joe Matt.

 

Gary slowly extracted the entire story out of an increasingly awkward Joe Matt over the course of ten grueling, hilarious minutes: The dubbing together of scenes from various porn videos, the compulsive jerk-off sessions, the peeing in jars rather than putting on clothes and using the bathroom of the rooming house where he lives. (Seth, an evil glint in his eye, chimed in with that last one, causing Gary to grill Joe about why he did that, too.) When Gary was finally satisfied that he had the whole picture, he paused for a moment, looked Joe square in the eye, and said, "So let me get this straight: You haven't been drawing your comic because you've been too busy compulsively masturbating?"

Joe looked around the table, all of his dinner companions staring at him with various looks of amusement on their faces. "Well, I also collect old newspaper strips," he said, sheepishly attempting to change the subject.

"And this collecting," Gary interrupted, failing to take the bait, "Has it interfered with your cartooning as well, or was it just the constant masturbation?"

...and so on.

I have no idea whether or not you just found the preceding anecdote amusing, but I guarantee you that it's funnier and more interesting than the new issue of Peepshow. Frankly, I'm embarrassed to be reviewing it — over on the other side of American comics' Tiny Nerd Culture War, there are superhero-comics fans telling one another that this artsy shit is just a bunch of boring, pretentious gits drawing themselves masturbating and complaining about their boring lives for 24 pages, and here's Joe Matt on a one-man crusade to prove them right. While Matt would clearly like this storyline to be seen as a frank depiction of addiction, it comes across as a pathetic one-note joke by a loser who'll do anything to keep his readers' attention.

Before reading Peepshow #14, I wasn't aware that anything related to pornography could be this dull. In any case, this story's far more entertaining when there's wine on the table and Gary Groth is tormenting Joe Matt into recounting it while friends and colleagues try to stifle their laughter. Perhaps you just had to be there.

 

This essay appeared on the then-website of The Comics Journal sometime between 2006 and 2008.

 

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