With Thought Bubble on the horizon, 11-18th November, with a guest list which includes but is not limited to Jason Aaron, David Aja, Cameron Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Paul Duffield, Jamie McKelvie, Fiona Staples, Sean Phillips, Nick Spencer and Mark Waid, hopefully attendees have saved hard.
We thought we’d take a closer look at books for which the festival is their début. Having already looked at Grow: Tales of Parenthood and Metal Between Two Faces earlier this week, we now turn our attention to The Lengths.
The Lengths by Howard Hardiman – the story of a young man growing up in a city where everything’s available, himself included. The series is based on interviews with sex workers and explores how lives, love and London shape you.
We spoke to Howard, who told us “The Lengths differs from a lot of straight (excuse the pun) verbatim interviews in that it’s first and foremost a story. When I did the interviews, what sort-of surprised me was how the concerns and anxieties of escorts were pretty universal.”
Interested in, and at this point brace yourself for another pun, more than the “ins and outs of the job…. I was much more interested in the mindset of the men I met and I wanted to really get to grips with how they navigate things like safe sex, how they protect themselves emotionally and how they deal with the socially-imposed guilt that the job, unfortunately, carries.”
In the interviews Howard says the men talked about “how hard it was to leave the job”, how well paid it was and that it was, “something a school-leaver could do”, which he said “echoed with a lot of my friends (and myself, at the time) who wanted to do something specific with their lives, but wound up in an easy job.”
“The story of The Lengths follows one young man who’s been drawn into escorting and left his friends and his art school course behind; we join him just as he’s starting to date one of his friends and makes the naive mistake of not telling him what he’s been doing since they last saw one another.” This leaves the young man, Eddie, caught between two worlds, unsure of which is the lie and ”winds up tearing himself apart and turning to drugs to cope with the strange guilt and shame he can’t shake.”
Thanks Howard. If you are unable to catch Howard at Thought Bubble, you can find him at London Queer Zine Festival on Saturday December 8th, where he will have the collected version of The Lenghts and other works including The Cooperage story from The Peckham