Comics, cartoons, and sex in art & literature carry a special kinship. Both have historically been taboo, “low” in status as genres of art; both have been avenues by which to mock and satirize the powerful… and underneath, despite it all, both have an almost universally popular appeal.
On November 24, we had a series of back-to-back workshops at Ohhh Canada’s new storefront on Queen West on the history of comic book erotica, exploring the long-standing relationship of sex in comics and the related struggle of freedom of expression that has come along with it.
For anyone who joined us for the workshop, we’re providing a list of links and references for further reading, along with a showcase of some of the books we’re carrying as a part of this section of our work. Enjoy!
“What is Erotica and What is Pornography?”
Lost Girls, by Alan Moore (author) and Melinda Gebbie (illustrator). Top Shelf Press, 2002.
25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom, by Alan Moore (author), 2009. Harry N Abrams Books.
Eight sexy webcomics to read with the door locked
Title: SECRET IDENTITY:
The Fetish Art of Superman`s Co-creator Joe Shuster
Author: Craig Yoe, with an introduction by Stan Lee
Artwork: Joe Shuster
Published: Abrams Comic Arts, New York (2009)
It is a well-known fact in the comic world that the original artist and co-creator of Superman died having earned only pennies on the dollar for his contribution to the world`s most famous superhero—the rights to the character were won by D.C. Comics in the 1940s. So what to make of this work in later years? He never signed his name to it, but the Nights of Horror illustrations that depicted lusty ladies, titillating torture, and all manner of mild S&M scenarios were in fact Shuster. What`s more?! The characters of these filthy booklets all look, at great deal, like one Clark Kent and Lois Lane… Find out more in this curious twist in the history of comics and erotic art.
Title: LOST GIRLS (Combined 3 Volume Hardcover)
Author: Alan Moore
Artwork: Melinda Gebbie Published: Top Shelf Productions (2006)
Writer Alan Moore and his partner Melinda Gebbie, both legends in their respective fields, teamed up for years in the early 1990s to produce a kind of comic and a kind of erotica that the world had never seen: sophisticated, politically and historically conscious, yet honest, human, and sensual.
From back of book: “For more than a century, Alice, Wendy and Dorothy have been our guides through the Wonderland, Neverland, and Land of Oz of our childhoods. Now like us, these three lost girls have grown up and are ready to guide us again, this time through the realms of our sexual awakening and fulfilment. Through their familiar fairytales they share with us their most intimate revelations of desire in its many forms, revelations that shine out radiantly through the dark clouds of war gathering around a luxury Austrian hotel. Drawing on the rich heritage of erotica, Lost Girls is the rediscovery of the power of ecstatic writing and art in a sublime union that only the medium of comics can achieve. Exquisite, thoughtful, and human, Lost Girls is a work of breathtaking scope that challenges the very notion of art fettered by convention. This is erotic fiction at its finest.”
If there`s anyone who can put 25,000 years of erotic art into perspective, it`s Alan Moore. Infamous author of graphic novel classics like Watchmen and V for Vandetta, Moore is a fan of uplifting both comics and erotica into more highly respectable realms. Much as he has shown us the ability of a comic to be a work of literature, so too in this volume does he show us the long legacy of pornography being a part of our most meaningful and cherished works of human expression. A moving read!
Book is hardcover with a gorgeous Art Nouveau decal, spotted inside with dozens of colour illustrations and photographs.
Title: The Pro Author: Garth Ennis Artwork: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotty, Paul Mounts Published: Image Comics (May 2012) For those of us looking for the lighter side of sex in comics, meet the world`s first prostitute superhero. Superhero prostitute… whatever she is, she`s one hilarious, street-smart, trash-talking tough cookie. This is not only pushing the boundaries of what could legally be sold in an Image Comics title; it also playfully mocks the image of the superhero in the collective imagination—from the spandex,…on down. As mainstream comics legend Gail Simone says, “This is the comic that Garth, Amanda and Jimmy will be apologizing for in Heaven minutes before being sent directly to Hell. But hey, if their eternal damnation is the only downside, then I demand a sequel.”
From the book: “In the year 2117, the prostitutes of Sex, Inc. attempt to make their living in the urban decay of a collapsed world. Confronted with the limitless fetishes and fantasies of a desperate and enslaved public, the girls attempt to fulfill every while pursuing Sex, Inc.`s personal goals.”
An incredible work of sci-fi erotica, published by two very big names in the comic world, Gary Groth and the late Kim Thompson.
Celebrated for over 35 years as a publication that welcomed new, unique sci-fi / fantasy comics, Heavy Metal also welcomed a fair share of erotica, and was cherished as a space where artists could freely express something of a “no holds barred” attitude toward their creativity. Select back issue magazines are available.