The Flick

I nearly flunked out of Law School because I was trying to establish myself in the comic book industry.  I was saved by pornography.  Really.

I had flunked Constitutional Law.  The professor offered to let me retake the course, and improve my grade by writing a paper instead of taking a final exam.  But I would have to earn an “A”, since I had already earned an “F”.  The paper could be about any constitutional law issue, at my selection.  

So I chose obscenity law.  It was in my wheelhouse, really, because all the issues revolved around questions of art and aesthetics.  It saved me.

Years later, I was practicing law, but still trying to make it in the comic book industry, and having only minimal success. Then I hit on the idea of turning my old obscenity law paper into a comic book.  This was around the time the industry was entertaining what looked to be the start of a golden age of erotic comics.  I had hoped to climb aboard.

I wanted the work to be a literary monument to the pornography industry of 1990’s, something along the lines of Herman Melville’s monument to the whaling industry, fusing history, legend, and myth, seeking truth and transcendence.  But I didn’t have Melville’s direct engagement with the target industry, so I drew upon my years in the comic book industry as a model.  There’s a connection there, with fantastically proportioned figures in skin tight costumes as a thinly disguised substitute for nudity, with violence as a substitute for sex, the participants engaging in long episodes of coming to blows of a different variety. 

I saw it as a kind of literary challenge, grappling with the inherent conflict between the objectives of essays and the objectives of art.  It plays with the rationale of the leading obscenity case– Miller v. California 413 U.S.15 (1973) —the peculiar notion that obscene works could be outlawed because they “contain no ideas.”

 But the golden age of erotic comics quickly died in what was then called “the smut glut”.  Besides, the comic book format proved to be absolutely wrong for the project.  It worked much better artistically in a format that used words alone.  Along the way, the comic book version crashed and burned like a Phoenix, then transformed into a postmodern Gothic romance, a tale of rebirth, transcendence, and all manner of ecstatic, terrifying, and divine experience. 

In a classic epistolary novel, two former lovers examine their past to create a screenplay.  They chip away at the borders between what actually happened and the needs of Art, until the two collapse into one another. 

The Flick examines the way that meaning is conveyed through words, through fiction and fact, through law, letters, and other forms of intercourse.  Ideas work their way in and out of Art, and Art works its way in and out of Life.  The didactic material interacts with the literary, until the tension reaches a climax far beyond the notions what it is ordinarily believable and far beyond the boundaries of rhetorical comprehension.  A Moby Dick of porno, kindred to the reality bending antics of Phillip K. Dick.  

A great deal of fucking occurs, but the ultimate fuck here is the one to your mind.

You can access the novel in PDF format here:


© Stuart Hopen, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2014


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