The Complete Lock Pick Pornography
Joey Comeau, 172 pgs, ECW Press, ecwpress.com, $14.95
When the casual reader comes across a book with pornography in the title, one can’t help but wonder if this will simply be just a good old-fashioned piece of smut. But some books — like Joey Comeau’s Lockpick Pornography — use this framework to take a stand against gender oppression and still manage to sprinkle crafty sex scenes throughout its narrative.
This book — which brings together two of Comeau’s short novels in one volume — contains Lock Pick Pornography, which was originally released in 2005, and We All Got It Coming, published in 2010. Both stories look at gender-queer characters being oppressed by a heteronormative society; but if We All Got It Coming is the victim that dreams of retaliation, Lock Pick Pornography is putting on a costume and delivering some vigilante vengeance.
The collection begins with Lock Pick. It follows a gay protagonist who uses pranks, crime and late night phone calls to protest gender stereotypes. He breaks into straight people’s houses, and crashes lesbian parties disguised as a drag king. To our hero, sexuality is a joke — and to him, a person who doesn’t realize that gender and sex are social constructs is living a laughable existence. Some of the pranks read as crafty, some as juvenile, but the writing is insightful enough that we can forgive the occasional shortcomings. And the pace of the story buzzes with adrenaline from beginning to end.
We All Got It Coming is the slower of the two. It follows Arthur, a character coping in the aftermath of gender-based violence. This story is easily the more sensitive and serious work, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its charms. Characters are humorously compared The Muppets and we’re introduced to a daydreamer who’s on a quest to learn to kick ass. However, the provoking ideas do come less frequently. Overall, The Complete Lockpick Pornography is an engaging, occasionally moving and consistently well-written item — both for fans already familiar with Comeau’s A Softer World comics and those encountering him for the first time. (Colin Brush)