Butts everywhere! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about Get Naked. In a series of individual graphic essays, Steven T. Seagle attempts to delve deep into his own psyche, as well as that of the culture of America, to discover why he and a majority of Americans feel uncomfortable with nudity. Seagle documents a variety of experiences he has “getting naked” both stateside and abroad and, with the help of many different graphic artists, puts those experiences into succinct and entertaining vignettes.
Seagle travels far and wide for his job. He also discovers his love of saunas and spas while traveling abroad. From Tokyo to Hollywood, Helsinki to Bern, Seagle strips down and bares himself, both literally and figuratively to the reader. He entertains with his tales of miscommunication woe while battling the language gap throughout his travels. He mistakenly walks out in public naked. He strikes up conversations with other naked bathers. He gets escorted off of a plane by airport security—luckily fully clothed. Throughout all of his adventures both near and far, Seagle maintains an easy humor and continues to ask the big question, “Why are we afraid to get naked?” Seagle tries his best to answer that question, though in the long run the point is rendered moot when his conclusion is simply, “we just are.”
Seagle’s writing style is friendly and casual. It feels like a conversation between friends. The narrator is easy to like because he is the “every-man.” Seagle is not necessarily telling a single story but each of the graphic essays holds the overarching theme of “nakedness and the author’s quest to become comfortable with his own.” There is perhaps almost too much talk of nudity. The point is made. Different cultures around the world handle nudity in a variety of ways, but obviously America hovers on the prudish end of the spectrum. Seagle himself strives to overcome his own culturally ingrained fear of nudity, but are 19 different graphic essays really necessary to get this point across? By essay number five, the reader gets it: naked is good.
The art of Get Naked is varied and wonderful. Each city’s tale is illustrated with a different artist. The art styles within these graphic essays reflect the tone of the individual story while all the while giving the artist free reign. Some of the illustrations are more cartoonish while some are more classic superhero comic style. The use of color, light, and shadow varies, as well. No two vignettes’ artwork are alike. This is both a blessing and a curse for Get Naked. Each of the artists depicted in this graphic novel are up-and-coming, so this is a great way for their work to get out into the world. The downside of this is that it can be distracting to the reader. There are several established characters throughout the book and it can be difficult to decipher who they are from essay to essay. Because of the variety of art styles, some of the characters end up looking different. This is confusing and disrupts the flow of the overall story.
Those who enjoy this graphic novel would also enjoy Fun Home and Blankets. These graphic novels are autobiographical and depict an uncomfortable time for the author. Fans of Get Naked would also appreciate Asterios Polyp and Killing and Dying. These both contain commentary on the ridiculousness of everyday life. Get Naked is appropriate for ages 18 and up. The wide use of nudity plus the occasional use of foul language renders this book unsuitable for children, tweens, and young teens. Get Naked is a unique take on a culturally divisive issue. Never-nudes beware: Steven T. Seagle makes a strong case to get naked.
By Steven T. Seagle
Art by Emei Olivia Burell, Tina Burholt, Patricia Amalie Eckerle, Christoffer Hammer, Andrada-Aurora Hansen, Rebekka Davidsen Hestbæk, Hope Hjort, Angelica Inigo Jørgensen, Bob Lundgreen Kristiansen, Silja Lin, Sim Mau, Ingvild Marie Methi, Thorbjørn Petersen, Aske Schmidt Rose, Erlend Hjortland Sandøy, Mads Ellegård Skovbakke, Cecilie “Q” Maintz Thorsen, Fred Tornager, Thomas Vium, Mads Ellegård Skovbakke
Publisher Rating: M (For Mature)