Pornhounds: Journalism meets Comics meets... Porn? Yes. / by Spandexless

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by Brandon Beck

Pornhounds 2 really surprised me. Going in, I knew almost nothing about it, other than I thought it had a cool title and that cancer was involved. What I found was a funny, moving, and deeply personal account of both the author’s battle with cancer and her time working as a writer/editor for a porno magazine, with both parts given equal weight.

Told in a series of American Splendor-esque vignettes, we follow the author, Sharon Lintz, through her somewhat mundane life as an editor of a pornographic magazine, where she also ghostwrites letters and editorials as the magazine’s star, Cytherea, a pornstar she’s never met. You know, normal stuff for a 30-something writer. This gift for understatement is the book’s greatest asset, as it never feels like she’s saying “Hey, I work in porn! Isn’t that weird?” but treats everything, be it the process of choosing which photos to use in an issue and why, or the way she responds to letters from Cytherea’s fans, in a calm, almost journalistic manner. This is especially true of the first half of the book. One of the early highlights is a chapter that simply reprints, with sparse illustration, the letters Cytherea has received from lonely men across the country. Some of them are sad, weird, dirty, or surprisingly beautiful, but they are all presented as is, with almost no editorial comment from the author. We see them as she sees them: As an outsider.

The second half of the book details her battle with cancer with the same journalistic quality as the first half, despite obviously being much more personal. She never allows the heavy subject matter to drag the book down in to “woe is me” territory, nor does she let it become falsely positive or uplifting. She simply lays out the facts, be they recounting her double mastectomy or her thought processes during the various parts of her treatment, in a simple, elegant manner. Some of the best parts of the book are the moments that are “in her head,” the visual metaphors of what she was going through, that flow in and out during the book’s latter half. Lintz manages to execute the tricky task of showing something introspective without being overly emotional, or even fully explaining what the more abstract images mean, allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions.

The book’s artwork, by a small army of artists, ranges from cartoony to realistic to grotesque, yet manages to remain uniform enough that the transitions from artist to artist are never jarring. In trying to tell her story the way she does, it makes perfect sense that she would turn to different artists. The one thing I appreciated the most about the artwork, across the board, is that the pornographic content is almost entirely unappealing. Nicholas Breutzman’s work in the chapter on photo meetings, which is at least 60% pornographic photos, manages to visually capture the fact that Lintz and her co-workers are looking at these images in a cold, clinical way, entirely devoid of sexuality. It’s a nice visual representation of the way Lintz writes, and is perhaps, artistically, the strongest chapter in the book. Nathan Schreiber’s work on the diagnosis chapter is also a highlight, showing the slow spin into panic and obsession that Lintz undergoes in a way that’s far funnier than the subject matter would seem to be. The artists often tonally play off of what Lintz is writing, and it works to the book’s advantage.

Pornhounds 2 is a funny, moving little book that’s worth picking up if you like slice of life writing. For as much as it tackles some big, literally life or death issues, it manages to remain incredibly grounded and, despite being told with a documentary-style distance, very, very human.

 TL;DR: Pornhounds 2 is a funny, moving recount of the day to day life of a porn magazine editor suffering from breast cancer. It is told in a journalistic style, with as much weight given to the porn as the cancer, never becoming too schmaltzy or overly emotional.

Pornhounds 2  is written by Sharon Lintz with art by Nicholas Breutzman, Shounak Jog, Chandler Wood, Emanuele Simonelli, Nathan Schreiber, Joan Reilly, Ellen Lindner, Ed Piskor, Edwin Vazquez, Mack White and Danny Hellman. It is a sequel to Pornhounds 1, detailing Lintz' first job in adult publishing. While the books certainly don't need to be read in order, we would encourage you to look at her site and purchase both of the self-published volumes.

A review PDF of Pornhounds 2 was graciously provided to Spandexless by the author.


Brandon Beck is a writer/director/improviser living in Brooklyn, NY. He is currently working towards an MFA in TV Writing/Producing at the TV Writer’s Studio at Long Island University with the hopes of one day bending the entertainment industry to his nefarious will. He is more than happy to talk to you about Phish. You can see inside his mind by finding him on Tumblr or following him at @hellyesbrandon.