Review by Frank Plowright
The Pervert’s protagonist is deliberately anonymous, a sex worker, or rent boy as they more plainly put it. She identifies as female and is undergoing gender transition, the career supposedly financing an operation that will cost upwards of $40,000. This isn’t a depiction of a happy life. A deep-rooted depression has been the result of continual persecution, at the low level passed off as joshing, but the scale elevated all the way to abusive invective and assault.
A sorrowful depth infuses Michelle Perez’s script, split into short chapters, and at its best enlightening about matters most people have never considered, yet the source of lifelong pain for others. Small moments are extremely revealing. Shortly after a confessional workplace conversation the worker made redundant to recover costs isn’t the one who caused the industrial accident, nor the one known to be a meth addict, but the person who the management now know as transexual.
For all the good intentions The Pervert really poses the question of how far good intentions transmit as it’s a graphic novel where the subject matter greatly transcends the abilities of the creators to deliver an effective presentation. Artist Remy Boydell is credited first on both cover and title page, deliberately designated as the primary motivator, and draws the entire cast in animal forms, painting over the line art with watercolours. However, it’s a real struggle to work past what is a very basic talent. There’s no capacity to deliver the intense emotional moments the story requires, and beyond that the pacing is so slow. Throughout the book there are dozens of panels that say nothing and have no purpose, possibly intended to convey a mood, but not doing so. Chapters on dreams take up more space, and there’s little connection between the vignettes having a greater depth, conveying a feeling of drifting in and out of a life. The words and illustrations do connect, so much so that they read as if the work of a single creator, which is a strength given the personal nature.
The Pervert’s intent is admirable, and its honesty will surely speak to people undergoing similar experiences, but for anyone else it’s going to be difficult to work past the meandering and the basic art.