The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Review: Painless by Jamie Mayer

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

In competing narrative voices (mostly first with a dash of third), author Mayer ably explores the turbulent headspace of Quinn, a teenager with a condition known as congenital analgesia—he can’t feel pain.

A high percentage of folks with Quinn’s condition don’t make it to adulthood, and Quinn seems set on joining that grim statistic.

As he processes—or tries to process—his father’s death, Quinn self-medicates through his art; and he’s good. The guy at his local comic shop begs him to complete his masterwork, a parallel tale about a dark superhero who fights crime alongside a canine familiar. The story later ushers in more residents of Quinn’s little island of misfit toys: two women who seem to speak to different sides of his personality. (Such triangles always make me flash on Dorothy Vallens and Sandy Williams, but that’s probably my cognitive bias talking—though this book does have some Lynchian qualities.)

In any event, this touching book reads like a cross between Good Will Hunting and Geek Love set on the boundary between our universe and whatever universe houses A-Ha’s video for “Take on Me.” It’s also beautifully written, belly-laugh funny, and downright harrowing at times. Highly recommended.


Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet,, Offscreen, and He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.

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