photo & text by nacrowe
it is difficult to read BOB FINGERMAN's graphic novel BEG THE QUESTION (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2002), itself a collection of his entire MINIMUM WAGE series, and not feel just the tiniest bit nostalgic for the less complicated, pre-internet existence of the 1990s. if only. FINGERMAN's narrative follows a BROOKLYN couple in their 20s as they navigate their way through ADULTHOOD PROBLEMS like moving in together, CAREER, SEX, DEATH, BODY IMAGE, FERTILITY, MONEY, FAMILY, CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS and ultimately MARRIAGE. to my understand the piece is basically an extended meditation on relationships and the evolving motivations for maintaining such as individuals inevitably shift through different phases. is it lust? is it emotional security?
BEG THE QUESTION employs an extended network of FAMILY and FRIENDS of the couple who offer various examples of the NEEDS, DESIRES and OBLIGATIONS that bind us to one another. for some it is all about ETHNIC and RELIGIOUS TIES, while for others maintaining a CONNECTIONS is done out of a sense of duty. again for others there is common PERSPECTIVE and TEMPERMENT that gravitates some to each while for others sheer SEXUAL ATTRACTION does so (which is pretty creepy given that such AFFECTION is intra-familial during parts of this graphic novel). for all of its questioning FINGERMAN does not give us a clear answer. the ties that bind are ultimately a MYSTERY and a core facet of the collective HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
speaking for myself, i find that i often cannot get out of my own head on these sorts of matters. i have always questioned what my MOTIVATIONS are for the people i maintain an emotional connection with. is not even possible to not be SELFISH and be around people that make you feel good about yourself? is that a bad thing? being around people that offer you a different PERSPECTIVE and look on life? do i have an ULTERIOR MOTIVE? and what about the people that are EMOTIONAL VULTURES and provide nothing but take. no NOURISHMENT or PERSPECTIVE, just baggage. are they not worthy? and what if they are family? how does that play into it, do i have an OBLIGATION to them because we are kin?
i dont know the answer to that. which is why i thoroughly enjoyed reading BEG THE QUESTION and wish to further seek other publications by FINGERMAN moving forward. i found this graphic novel to be quite THOUGHTFUL, despite its at times RAUNCHY and TRANSGRESSIVE subject matter, and highly recommend it for anyone interested in piercingly HONEST meditations on modern life.
and one last thing: in a post-ROE world it is hard to not think about how much AGENCY has been shifted away from women to make the types of decisions regarding FAMILY PLANNING and BODILY AUTONOMY examined in BEG THE QUESTION. its hard to stomach the fact that we have regressed that much as a society in terms of HUMAN RIGHTS and basic EMPATHY and COMPASSION. makes this graphic novel feel like a political and cultural ANACHRONISM id like to get back to.