It’s Not Satin
IT’S NOT SATIN takes an Ed’s-eye look at horror. Superficially, it’s not too far removed from EC territory, telling the story of a mad, reclusive artist who must possess the object of his love in much the manner of John Fowles’ ‘The Collector’, but who cannot in the end incarcerate his loved one’s spirit. But to read Pinsent’s work superficially is to miss the point; he is not merely a storyteller. He seems to me to be an artist who employs narrative as a structure, a framework intended to provide access to the meanings and possibilities implied by the ambiguous events with which it is embellished. Here, for instance, satin is not only not the material of which a ribbon is made – it is also not the name of the familiar horned image which is the “tortured” artist’s friend, sole communicant and inspiration.
That is a simple ambiguity, clearly explained within the narrative itself. Its deeper resonances, however, can only be probed and explained within the context of each individual reader’s experience and understanding. More than almost anything else in comics, Pinsent’s work defeats the techniques of objective analysis – all this review can do is tell you what I think of this tale. You, whoever you may be, will find other matter for digestion within its pages. Perhaps this is why Pinsent is generally held to be brilliant, but has never achieved wide acceptance; his work holds little that is susceptible to consensual understanding.
For what it’s worth, then my reading of IT’S NOT SATIN perceives a cold condemnation of art’s very artificiality. Its nameless protagonist does not (cannot?) communicate in words, only in symbols; caught up in an entirely private world of meaning, he (she?) interprets a moment of fleeting, trivial human communication as the trigger for a passion which can only be consummated dispassionately. With the help of artisan’s tools, the loved one is captured and objectified, adapted completely into the artist’s world and thereby removed from real life. From this chilling expression of a dichotomy between art and life, perhaps the closing pages, in which the artist feels compelled to release his loved one’s spirit, offer a means of redemption. Perhaps…but there the story ends.
And perhaps no-one else would read the story in this way. As with all reviews, you can read them but they cannot embody your understanding. Ed Pinsent reminds us that only you can do that. For the questions that he asks, give him your support.
From ZUM! No 3, January 1992
It’s Not Satin, written and drawn in 1990, was one of my rare full-colour stories. It has previously only been available in a black-and-white photocopied version, printed half the size of the original art. This web publication is the first time it has been released in its full colour version. (EP)