Love Addict: Confessions of a Serial Dater
Koren Shadmi (Writer and Artist)
31 January, 2018
With almost fifty million people using dating apps, it’s no wonder that there’s a comic written about them. Koren Shadmi’s Love Addict doesn’t just cover quirky disasters and mishaps that come with online dating, though; by showing the personal consequences and mental impact of a vulnerable person giving this lifestyle a chance, it avoids feeling like a flat concept that could be easily read on any given person’s social media page. More surprisingly, while it presents a problematic mentality, the seemingly toxic vibe it carries also reveals a much needed message.
The story introduces us to “K”, a mild-mannered animator who, after a long-term relationship gone sour for reasons unexplained, resigns himself to a life of solitude and loneliness. But, thanks to a playboy roommate—the nicest possible way to describe him—that idea goes south very quickly. K soon find himself sucked into the online dating world through a website called Love Bug, the book’s equivalent to Tinder. What follows are the rocky trepidations of modern dating: a feeling of being wanted, the distraction from the rest of the world, the euphoric rush of sex with a complete stranger, and the deep questioning on what a connection between two people really consists of.
To some people, this may just sound like another slice-of-life dating comic. But what differentiates Love Addict from so many others is the story’s ability to trick the reader. As I read through K’s many dates, I found myself cringing at a lot of them. Though there are many of the standard happenings—like showing up to your date with the person already slurring drunk at the bar, or the general “the picture is pretty old” catfishing trick—some seemed heartless as K’s internal monologue narrates in the background. After a few bad dates there is a shift in the character towards finding the positive even in the bad dates by objectifying them in his head; fat shaming, commenting about their breasts upon first meeting them, worrying about whether she might be “totally psycho like [his] last girlfriend,” while putting up a polite front outwardly.
Almost every date that he goes on ends in sex, as it is wont to do with Tinder for a lot of people, and K mistakes this for happiness, going so far as to quit therapy as a result. Even as his success with women increases, it’s clear that the path he has chosen to follow is one that takes its toll—not just with him, but also his roommate, whose mannerisms K seems to mirror as the story unfolds. As his roommate hits his lowest point driven by alcoholism and unsafe dating practices, K remains easily able to pass judgement while still following in his footsteps, going even so far as to begin objectifying women as beings meant for sex instead of finding a real connection. However, as the many harrowing points of the series leave their mark both on K and the reader, he ultimately makes a realization in the difference between being wanted and being loved and truly appreciated.
While many strong points against the emotional—and sometimes physical—dangers of one-click dating are present in the story, it never comes off as a cautionary tale, but instead more of an expertly-given nudge to make the reader look at their own ethics. With the fun cartoonish style of the artwork playing into the often precarious and overtly sexual situations, Koren Shadmi creates realistic stereotypes of the online dating world that makes the reader hold a mirror up to their own experiences to pose the question: what have I done, or what would I do, in this situation?
Shadmi ties all this together in a clean, neat package with artwork that plays with the deep emotional intent behind the story itself. For such a seemingly perky style, the level of emotion and layering that is seen in the characters faces is staggering and rare. And, while much of the objectification is clear as day during the more lewd scenes, the nudity is tasteful and showcases Shadmi’s ability to capture the traditional female form in a way that is both artful as well as demeaning with the purpose of flowing with the theme of the book’s questioning nature.
Love Addict is not for the faint of heart. It may be sexy, silly, and playful but in an almost masterful way, it also parodies itself and makes the reader decide whether they have a leg to stand on in order to pass judgement on someone who mirrors themselves, and asks them to take a hard look on not only what they consider not only love to be, but also how they see themselves when having to take a deeper look.
Though Love Addict has been available from IDW since its release in 2016, it certainly stands the test of what makes for outstanding storytelling as well as the ability to engage the reader at their core.