The Pregnant Man

The Pregnant Man

(You can buy The Prince, by Liam Cobb, here. It's fourteen dollars and it's better than your entire pull list.)

"Hey Austin, what's the best comic that you read this year so far?"

"That's easy, person who must not really exist because nobody gives a shit: it's the one with the guy shitting out hundreds of frog eggs before getting forked in his fucking EAR-FACE."

"... anything with superheroes or?..."

#metoo, amirite?

I am certain, percolating somewhere, if it somehow hasn't already been published, is a take on this book as a "perfect book for the current #metoo #timesup "moment." What the fuck is a "moment"? Christ, we're so stupid now, the discourse is so diluted. What started as a way to mark trending topics on a proprietary social media platform has extended outward into a real social world and reified itself as a funnel back to that same platform. Even the way we talk about major societal issues is tailored to be a commodifiable entity. It's something taggable by any and all outlets that rely on digital ad revenue.

Whether or not Twitter's share price goes up, it's still a nazi shithole and my girlfriend still can't do half the things in public by herself that I can do whether or not Meryl Streep gets another Oscar nom or whatever the fuck. Our metrics are haywire, irreparably so.

The Woman on the cover of and throughout the Prince is not a metaphor: she is my mother, she is her mother before her, she is the Woman who has been cooped up and either subtly or outright psychologically abused by an overbearing man who is Just. So. BORING as to be impotent in such a way that he must must must compensate by controlling not just her domestic affairs but the things around the edges.

The likes.

The dislikes.

The dreams.

The challenges she wants to pursue.

The frogs.

"You know how I feel about frogs!"

I mean, really, what a fucking loser. When he expects the Woman to have dinner made for him by the time he gets home, it's a trope, but when he utters this line it's a fucking laugh. And yet, this is the core of it: this compulsion to evince the absolute basest and stupidest of ourselves through the medium of making the Woman feel like shit.

But this isn't a revenge story. This isn't Beatrix Kiddo hopping in her spite-mobile after getting choked out by Tarantino in-between takes.

Cobb is too controlled for all of this. The Woman is never angry except for when her husband comes for her only shred of of personhood--a humble frog--and even then, it's less anger and more despondence, at least until the breaking point, at which point the rage is only one to which the Woman is resigned without much choice. Her actions with any other man throughout the story--from philanderers, to horny dorks with shit haircuts, to... I don't know some rich douche--all echo this resignation. The only mistake Cobb makes in this entire book is drawing the Woman with an expression of anger when she cleaves the cheating neighbor right in the face.

It is the most placid action of the book, in both the foregoneness of its deservedness and the action itself. In spite of her expression, the way in which the meat cleaver is just all up in the dude's face in one panel with no real motion indication is such a silent moment compared to how else it might have normally been rendered. The fact of the mater is that the viscerality was not needed in the action itself, because all of the gore and violence and sickness is underwritten by the same thing:

The frog has to eat.

Everything ends that way. Even this book ends that way.

The frog has to eat.

And we all have to feed it.

Austin Lanari

About Austin Lanari

Call me a bedbug to my face.