cover image The Perineum Technique

The Perineum Technique

Jerome Mulot and Florent Ruppert. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-68396

Through vivid visual metaphors and personable dialogue, this graphic novel paints a thoughtful and poignant picture of the coy and muddled nature of virtual relationships. After a week of brief but explicit online rendezvous, JH becomes obsessed with gaining more than just an online acquaintance with Sarah, but he struggles to convince her that they should connect in person. Eventually, they agree to meet at a party and then embark on a relationship based on emotional manipulation. Sarah seems to find JH amusing, and he becomes infatuated with her. She challenges JH to spend four months masturbating without ejaculating, using the titular technique, and soon he’s consumed by both physical and emotional need. He has a habit of objectifying women, and his aggressive willingness to talk about sex is undermined by his hesitation to actually approach anyone he’s interested in; these personality traits are amplified by the online dating world of near-constant connection, intimate photos, and explicit chat. Using simplistic sketch-style artwork, striking colors, and abstract visual metaphors in place of explicit content, the story offers a strong commentary on a relationship built during the digital romance era. The script brims with JH’s agitation and the palpable emotional tension between him and Sarah. With a maze of complex emotions, skillful symbolism, and relatable romantic situations, this book is a head game begging to be played. (Mar.)