We’re doing another series of themed posts, this one about sex and comics. Decades ago Peter Cook did a funny routine about a coal miner who wanted to be a novelist but whose novel got turned down “because it lacked the sex element.” I’ve always loved that phrase.
The Sex Element, part 1
by Tom Crippen
I can list seven sorts of comics that involve the sex element.
1) European works that involve fancy drawing and some kind of non-sex draw, such as satirical future fantasyscapes where women in strapless gowns have television sets for heads. This is the Heavy Metal category. The result of the sex element is that everything else in the work gets skipped.
2) European works that involve fancy drawing and no sort of non-sex draw. This is the Milo Manara category. The result of the sex element is that the reader spends 20 minutes rooted to one spot at Jim Hanley’s Universe and wonders if anyone notices.
3) Self-revelatory works where the artist gets down to the inner recesses of his being and finds the usual sort of crap we keep there. I guess Crumb is the big example. The sex element in these works might or might not strike you as sexy; it doesn’t have to in order to get its job done. Whereas in the first two categories it does.
4) Works about daily life that show people having sex because that’s what people do. Alison Bechdel, Alex Robinson, Terry Laban. Robinson’s Box Office Poison has one of the most effective sex scenes in comics, but the scene is not sexy. It just gets across the experience. A problem with these works is that you can feel like the author is demonstrating a point: See how mature and adult I am?
5) Tijuana Bibles. I’ve never seen one of those. (UPDATE: But Matthew J. Brady says you can find them here.)
6) Japanese pervy stuff. The kindergarten aspect of these works is very offputting.
7) Lost Girls. Man, did that suck. For one thing, the artwork made everything look like copulating trombones. For another, Alan Moore can be very, very silly. He wanted to do intellectual pornography, which is right up there with wallpaper you can hum or toothpaste that rhymes. Also, his idea of what constitutes an idea can be awfully generous, not to say lax.