2nd Cartoon and Comic Arts Comic Review By Tony Holdsworth
STRIP.By Sarah Gordon
STRIP is a visceral experience. It features only one character, who begins the comic standing with hands crossed in front of her, looking at you. She is closed off. She opens up, and takes a full page to give us a seductive look before going into her strip tease. The woman takes off her blouse and casts it to the floor. She rests her hand on her stomach, still looking at you, savouring the look you’re giving her, how much you’re both enjoying it. She takes off her gloves with her teeth and drops them. She pulls her dress off, reveals her corset and lingerie. And then she pulls the corset open. This carries on, never breaking eye contact or her smile for too long, until she is completely nude.
Where can she go from here? How are we not even half way through the book?
She picks up a knife.
From there the book devolves into chaos and self-mutilation and the colour palette expands to include not just black and white now, but red too. While a later spread uses the 9-panel grid, it reads differently to previous pages using that structure. It’s now a strobing effect showing you gore instead of a nicely paced, rhythmic, erotic strip tease.
STRIP made me feel vile. It made me feel like a pervert. It’s probably the most genuine emotional experience I’ve had in a long time reading a comic. By using similar pacing and structure in both halves, the feeling of revulsion and titillation overlap and make you question yourself. Or at least it did for me, maybe I’m just a terrible person.
It’s just that the woman of Strip feels so real. Gordon hasn’t drawn her to be pornstar-perfect, the woman is clumsy sometimes. She falls over. Her lewd smile slips sometimes before she remembers she’s being watched. It’s because of this humanity that when it all hits the fan (which I’m deliberately being vague about) it really made a deep mark on me.
I can see why Sarah Gordon was nominated for a British Comic Award. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.
Sarah Gordon can be found at: