by Jeet Heer
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The new issue of Canadian Notes and Queries (CNQ) is now on stands and, as with the last issue, there is much in it of interest for comics fans. Seth’s design work, which premiered in the previous issue, really gels this time around. The writer Kerry Clare recently enthused that CNQ is “is the most beautifully designed magazine in the world right now, and I’m not even exaggerating.” Like the best recent graphic novels, the entire magazine hangs together visually as a total package.
Among the comics related items of interest: a gorgeous Doug Wright scene from Juniper Junction (a very different strip than Nipper or Doug Wright’s Family); Joe Ollmann’s adaptation of Marian Engel’s Bear, a novel about ursine love; and a new Seth strip featuring Hudson and Stanfield (a strip that is intriguingly linked to earlier Seth book). The wrap-around cover that Seth did is much lovelier than the little snapshot I’ve provided here.
The theme of the issue is gender and there are many strong and challenging pieces here ranging from Nicole Dixon’s lament over the disappearance of feminism from our fiction to A.J. Somerset writing about porn and literature. I strongly recommend the magazine to anyone who cares about literature.
I also have a piece in this issue using Russell Smith’s novel Girl Crazy as a way of talking about the novelist’s entire career, and other large issues. My piece can be read here.
The Chivalric Pornographer
By Jeet Heer
When I was younger I used to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with strippers. The circumstances behind this were more benign, or at least more complex, than you might guess. Fresh out of university I worked for several years as a factotum for an immigration lawyer, who for the sake of discretion we’ll call Mr. Greenberg. A hard-bitten, cigar-chomping former-Brooklynite with a face as spherical as a bowling ball, Mr. Greenberg had a daughter in her mid-20s named Cheryll (another pseudonym) who had a serious drug problem. Periodically she would crash at her widowed father’s place, beg him for money or, on occasion, steal from him. When she had an intermittent falling out with her dad or wanted to be more independent, the quickest way Cheryll had to make money was to work as an exotic dancer.
When Cheryll pulled her disappearing act, Mr. Greenberg would ask me to make sure she was safe, an easy enough task since she was a regular at a handful of clubs, whose dancers and clienteles I got to know well. I remember in particular one club frequented by a recently divorced engineering professor, bleary-eyed and middle-aged, who had a tendency to paternalistically dote on Cheryll and the other dancers, offering them advice on how they could improve themselves through education.