SPENT in Las Vegas Weekly

“Tales from a chronic masturbator” / Las Vegas Weekly / J. Caleb Mozzocco / July 12, 2007

Two-first-named cartoonist Joe Matt creates comics about his own life starring himself, and he makes cantankerous crank Harvey Pekar and pathetic, laughably lovelorn Jeffrey Brown seem like two of the most well-adjusted individuals you’ve ever read about.

Matt is a chronic masturbator addicted to porn. How chronic, you ask, and how addicted? Well, he pleasures himself at least 10 times a day, and even hits a personal record of 20 in one scene in this book (hence the title). And as for porn, he borrows tapes from a friend and, using two VCRs, laboriously edits hundreds of hours of pornography into highlight tapes that cut out all of the story, all of the men’s faces and asses, leaving only the good parts, which he can use for future inspiration.

Spent spans eight years in Matt’s life, which is exactly how long it took to create the book. We first meet him talking with fellow cartoonist Seth, and later he has lunch with Seth and another cartoonist, Chester. They’ll look, sound and act awfully familiar to anyone who’s read Seth’s brilliant It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, in which the pair also both appear.

The book actually bears quite a strong resemblance to Seth’s; the two cartoonists have a very similar style in terms of their thick lines and sparse details, and both use black-and-white washed with a single color.

Matt’s tale is a lot more wincingly, shudder-inducingly revelatory than Seth’s ... or just about anyone else’s, actually. Matt (or at least his comics avatar) seems like a bit of a psycho, and that’s what gives the book punch beyond its visual appeal. No matter how much you might shake your head at the star and his behavior (and his porn habit is hardly the worst of it), there will come a point where you’ll see some of yourself in him.

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