Wednesday, 28 June 2017

In Preview - 'Primas' from Alberto Pessoa


Created by Alberto Pessoa.

Based on research by Loreley Garcia of the Federal University of Paraiba.

Based on real experiences. Translated in English and published by Stache Publishing.

'My husband always told me "You depend on me for everything. You are nothing without me!" 'So I told him to fuck off!'

And so begins the story of Rosa. How she moved back in with her mother, couldn't find work and made the decision to work as a prostitute in a local Brazilian bar. For some time this seemed to go well. She made money, felt in power of what she was doing and earned a load of money. But things have a habit of changing....

According to what I see daily on social media the practise of not realising quite how great we have it in the UK seems a daily and growing business.

Occasionally you are brought back down to earth by something you see, read or encounter. This is a book that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and takes you to this reality and shows you it in an unflinching fashion.

It describes one life. That of a woman named Rosa. It describes the events of her young life.  A series of experiences that are not really something that you can describe as complex but are emotionally powerful and physically impactful. I'm not someone who I would describe as naive. I've encountered much in fiction and in life but the brutality of one true feeling moment in this comic brings a part of our world in to sharply focused clarity. The violence of the single drunken encounter that begins this story and is later dealt with in more detail is a moment that changes Rosa's choices and those made for her.

This is made all the more shocking by worrying failure of those around her both friends, colleagues and her employer to help her out. What kind of life is this if such an event is seen as part and parcel of the world. Even when a kindly stranger offers to taker her to the hospital after finding her wandering in the road she promises sexual acts in return - covered in blood she is drunkenly unaware of a kind act when it's offered.

It's moments like this that ring the bell of real life when I am reading. No romantic whore with a heart of gold saved my a good man. No bag of cash under a bed. No child saved. Just cold hard facts displayed in this comic art form.

'..... I only cried that one night...'

Nothing is black and white. A fact that you are reminded of throughout this book. The first half of the book almost has you admiring Rosa. She's a singleminded woman. Prostitution is a choice she makes. She describes how she holds the power. Dictates what she does with her body, who she's tells and what cash she makes. She enjoys the feeling that she is popular and wanted. This enjoyment of the moment seemingly blinds her to the chance of violence.

Even the word 'Primas' has two meanings. One is a 'female cousin' the other is a subtle way to say 'prostitute' - I suppose in the same way that 'Escort' has become a subtler word in English. 'Puta' is not translated yet still has the power that it is intended with both the actual men and women in the story and the writer. (A slang term for whore, I find out through Google, is seemingly spat out at times in the story).

The art in the story makes use of large panels that focus almost entirely on the faces of the players. We see them in their respective situations and the art is kept simple and to the point. Pessoa uses heavy blacks as a style choice and they work well. If I had one small niggle it is that the cover is not representative of the interiors? (I realise that I am reading a preview copy so this may change).

The ending is not an end to me. Just a change in direction. The use of symbolism works so well in the final pages. As the view shifts and the world turns we are reminded that some things are there, constant, in the dirty dark corners. Brilliant stuff.

The book contains some great back material including interviews and photos of the town and those living there with comparisons to the art used.

The project is due to go live on Kickstarter in July and is well worth a punt. Keep an eye out for it.

Pop over to to keep updated on the project and follow this interesting new company @Stache_Comics on Twitter.

Many thanks for reading.

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