Sex Workers in Comics and Graphic Novels

  • Armin Lippitz Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

Abstract

Prostitutes, or sex workers as they are often referred to nowadays, are usually marginalized and generally depicted in a negative light in comics and graphic novels. Most frequently, a stereotypical image of female sex workers as victims of society from a patriarchal viewpoint is perpetuated. Violence against prostitutes is often the central theme for graphic novels, like in From Hell (1989) by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Characters that are, or used to be, prostitutes are almost exclusively victimized or vilified. Even powerful, authoritative, and independent women, like most from the Sin City series (1991-2000) of graphic novels by Frank Miller, are, in the grand scheme of things, at the mercy of more powerful male figures.
 In 2011 the Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown tried to counter this prevalent misogynist depiction of prostitutes in his graphic novel Paying For It. The autobiographical story centers on him as a “John”, a client of sex workers, for several years, and explains his experiences with escorts. My paper will focus on the depiction of prostitutes in Chester Brown’s Paying For It (2011) and will compare various comics and graphic novels also featuring sex workers with the book. I will show that Paying For It (2011), although partly flawed, is an important work for the portrayal of prostitutes in comics, and a valuable contribution in the debate about the decriminalization of sex work. 
Published
Jun 13, 2017
How to Cite
LIPPITZ, Armin. Sex Workers in Comics and Graphic Novels. Colloquium: New Philologies, [S.l.], p. 63–70, june 2017. ISSN 2520-3355. Available at: <http://colloquium.aau.at/index.php/Colloquium/article/view/30>. Date accessed: 19 aug. 2017. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.23963/cnp.2017.2.1.5.
Issue
Section
Literature and Culture: Results

Keywords

Literature; Culture; Comics Studies; pop-culture; sex workers; representation