The past few weeks have been full of discovery, which is pretty much the best ever. After two conventions, where I spent way too much money, I have a an impressive stack of comics to get through. One of the first that demanded my attention is Jess Fink’s Chester 5000-XYV. Honestly, largely because it was a quick read before bed the other day, but also because it’s so radically different from the comics I generally read. And yes, the difference is the erotic nature of the comic – duh! Anyway, it was quite enjoyable, and easily exceeded any expectations I may have had.
It’s exactly what the tag-line promises, and delivers excellently on each count. It’s erotic, definitely robotic, and at it’s heart a romance in a Victorian setting. The brilliance of which lies in the deftness with which Fink balances all these elements.
The story is that of a newly wed couple. Robert is a brilliant inventor, and is quickly so distracted by his work that he fails to satisfy Pricilla in pretty much every way – enter his newest invention Chester 5000-XYV. What follows is a romance that is both extremely touching and erotic. Pricilla and Chester fall in love, Robert becomes jealous, drama ensues, climaxes and then everyone walks away a better person.
What is amazing about all of this, is the complete absence of text. There is no narration or speaking, minus a bit of onomatopoeia. The storytelling is left completely to the images, and this is where Fink’s skill as a cartoonist is on full display. Everything is communicated perfectly, from the human drama to the sex. Neither distracts from the other – everything fits seamlessly.
One could simply flip through this, stare at the naughty bits, and be titillated, but they would be missing the point. This is a story about a robot teaching humans how to love, both physically and emotionally. For this to work Chester needs to be inhuman, and yet fundamentally and irrevocably human in spite of it. Full credit goes to Fink for conveying this. And no, the sex is not enough to get this across. It comes down to the body language, the expressions, the mannerism, and ultimately to the hurt.
This is as much a story of loss, as it is anything else. You truly cannot go home again, and that is on full display here. There are consequences, and the characters must grow, let go, and start again. Love, loss, and eroticism!
In short, this is an excellent comic-book, where even little details like ornate panel borders work towards enhancing the story. I am hardly a connoisseur of erotic comics, Oglaf is the only thing even remotely close that I read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this, and will definitely check out Fink’s other work (i.e. We Can Fix It!). Anyway, Chester 5000 is also an ongoing webcomic, and whichever way you prefer, it’s definitely worth checking out.