By Sarah Miller
As somewhat of a serial dater myself, I was very excited to read Love Addict: Confessions of a Serial Dater. I was looking for some insights into the various experiences I’ve had, and I was also looking forward to reading about the different affairs that someone else has had. I’m a fan of both slice-of-life and memoir comics, and I was hoping for a little something of both with this work. I certainly found those things, but I also found a comic rife with clichés and stories that I have already heard before, that have been told in so many ways they have entered the public consciousness. I found judgement and a lack of true introspection that might have turned that judgement around and led our narrator to some kind of real awakening instead of the half-hearted “maybe this is bad for me” that we get at the end of the book. There is no concern at all for the women that he has been dating; they all merely serve as some kind of reflection of what the narrator is going through.
The storytelling itself is well-paced, the dialogue clips along, and the structure of the memoir is sound, following a year-long cycle through the dating life of a man who thought he could never be a seducer. Time passes as the seasons pass, and we watch the narrator change—to a certain extent—along with the weather. The artwork is thoughtful, clean, and expressive, each panel following the previous in a completely logical fashion that makes the eyes roll through the pages with ease. There are no earth-shattering images or breakthroughs, but it is a very solid piece of work in terms of the way it has been put together.
You lose me with the content.
At the beginning of the work, we are presented with a picture of the narrator as a man who only ends up in long-term relationships, who has never had the experience of casual dating. His roommate, however, is a connoisseur of dating-for-sex, and convinces the narrator to join the online dating site Lovebug. In spite of a few stumbles, it is only a short time before the narrator is a practiced hand at the three-dates-then-sex racket. Of course there is nothing wrong with dating for sex—but do his partners have any idea that this is what is happening? Based on the way that he struggles to keep each partner unaware of the others, I would guess that they don’t. This is a trope that we’re all used to, and instead of shocking or provoking, it bores.
The women he dates are caricatures, from the Gold Digger to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, most of them falling under the umbrella of super-hot-but-damaged-in-some-way. Any bit of deviance from the norm is met with judgement, seen in the narrator’s reaction. For example, it is completely normal when he is vigorous in his sexual activity, but his facial expression betrays his confusion when he is subjected to the same treatment. Perhaps it’s merely a matter of Goldilocks finding his perfect sexual match, but for someone who is as into sex as the narrator is, I would have expected a little more acceptance. Women’s bodies fall under the same judgement as their sexual preferences, and the narrator expresses disappointment and disgust at the first and only overweight woman he meets for a date. This disgust is thinly veiled as disappointment at the woman’s personality and the fact that she spends an unusual amount of time in the bathroom, but the impression is that this would not matter if she was hot. Indeed, even though there is some variation in body type of the women that the narrator has sex with, they are universally extremely attractive in conventional ways. Some of the harshest judgement, however, is reserved for the woman who is taking care of her mental health by being properly medicated. When she lists the medication that she is taking, the narrator thinks to himself, “This girl is insane. I don’t want to date another psycho. I should go home now and never contact her again.” Of course, he doesn’t do this because she is hot, never letting a little judgement get in the way of his conquest of conventionally attractive women.
His rough reaction to his medicated date is surprising considering that he himself regularly visited a counselor of some kind. Through his interactions with her, we see the narrator move through different stages in his exploration of the dating world. At first, he is so happy with his newfound situation that he decides he no longer needs to see his counselor. Soon, however, he becomes overwhelmed with juggling dates and is so consumed by the need to keep the intensity of his sexual life at an all-time high that his work begins to suffer and he experiences a panic attack. This is the first inkling of the small amount of personal growth that I mentioned at the beginning of this review, but it doesn’t quite take hold yet. First, he must go through a period of what he would consider debauchery: having sex in bathrooms, snorting coke.
It all catches up to him in the end, though, in a few different ways, just as the lack of insight catches up to the work as a whole. There was so much potential here for tackling some of the big questions that those in the dating field face, but instead we’re stuck with the same old stories told in familiar ways. I was disappointed.
Love Addict: Confessions of a Serial Dater
Writer/Artist: Koren Shadmi
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions