An overview of eroticism and adult pornography in comics
In this overview, we will try to give a general survey of comics with adult, sexual and erotic content. We have carefully chosen the graphic material, but apologize for anyone, including Google, who might feel offended by pictures used for erotic illustration. If you are under the age of eighteen, or feel in any way that explicit sexual material might upset you, we advise you instead to browse through some of the thousands of other innocuous pages on this site. In today's advertising-driven world, it is unfortunate that many prominent Internet search engines feel they must 'protect' you from seeing depictions of basic human sexuality, except when selling consumer products.
From the moment when comic artists first learned how to handle a pencil, many have used their talent to draw sexually explicit scenes, within cultures all over the world. For some this was just a juvenile phase, others have developed this particular interest into a professional production, to entertain and satisfy an audience of millions of fans of the graphic arts.
Comics with a sexual content are always bound - or at least influenced - by the current cultural taboos. According to ruling opinions of what is tolerated, sexual comics will either be sold above or below the counter. While depicting bare breasts is not such a big deal in Western Europe, where female nudity is used for selling anything from shampoo to cars, but in America, naked breasts are associated solely with sex, and therefore banned from public display. In Japan, many sex comics (manga) deal with sex between or with underaged teenagers - the depiction of which is considered pedophilia in most Western comics. This goes to show that what is considered titillating in one culture, may be viewed as criminal in another.
For most artists, "erotic" means the depiction of what arouses their desire - which is usually a beautiful young woman or man, with little or no clothes on. Comic artists add to the sexually charged atmosphere by drawing their objects of desire in exciting stories. The artistic qualities of many erotic comics are very high, and many artists have earned themselves a respectable reputation in this genre. In Europe, the erotic scene is headed by names like Alex Varenne, Max Cabanes, Lorenzo Mattotti and probably the master: Milo Manara.
In England, the erotic comic 'Jane at War' by Norman Pett helped bolster the morale of British soldiers during World War II.
Sex and humoristic comics
Sex and humor don't mix too well in real life, but in comics they provide a complete genre, which allows readers to secretly snigger at sexually explixit scenes without risk of being associated with the perversity that accompanies hard core pornography. All through the ages, more or less talented artists have amused themselves by drawing well-known characters in compromising sexual scenes. Especially in the 1920s and 30s, there was a production of so-called 'Tijuana Bibles' or 'eight-pagers' - little comic books consisting of 8 pages, with a sex parody featuring film-stars or even comic characters. Most of the artists remained anonymous, but it is known that Wesley Morse created a few.
She Saw the World's Fair - and how!
An eight-pager about a lady who visits the New York Fair in 1939. An excellent site about Tijuana Bibles is www.tijuanabibles.org.
Many "men's magazines" like Playboy or Penthouse feature humoristic erotic comics as well. A hit was 'Little Annie Fanny' by Harvey Kurtzmann, which ran in Playboy from 1962 until 1988. In Holland, we have the antics of 'Willem' by Aloys Oosterwijk in the magazine, Panorama.
Willem's Wereld by Aloys Oosterwijk
In the 1960s and 70s underground comics reacted to the implementation of the Comics Code by drawing comics about any controversial subject they could think of - mostly sex. Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez are big names in this area.
Detail of Angouleme poster by Robert Crumb
In the 1980s, sex parodies on well-known comic characters, like the Smurfs or Lucky Luke, crept up again. In essence, these topics were much the same as the eight-pagers half a century earlier.
Sex parody of the Smurfs
S&M and Bondage
There's a special 'knotty' niche in the comics world, as in the real world, for S&M and bondage comics that feature long-legged, high-heeled mistresses who feel compelled to discipline anything from naughty schoolgirls to high-powered businessmen. These stories can be anything from the soft bondage of Saudelli to the violently sadistic scenes of Pichard... Stanton, Eneg and Willie (in his book 'The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline') have brought this genre to artistic heights.
Marie-Gabrielle, by Georges Pichard
Some comic artists cater to several specific fetishes, such as feet, high heels, leather boots, nylon and rubber. Italian artist Franco Saudelli (together with his artistic wife Francesca Casotto, who often modelled for him) was a master at depicting feet in such a way, that even the ones that have no sexual interest in them, start to understand the fascination some others have.
Feet by Franco Saudelli
The Japanese comics scene offers a special place for sex. Unlike the West, the East has an attitude towards sexuality which is a bit more tolerant and accepting. In Tokyo, it is not an uncommon sight to see respectable employees on their way to work in the subway reading a manga comic with sexual content. A quick survey will reveal that Japanese comic artists often combine well-written stories with sex and eroticism. Themes like bondage and sex between underaged youth are not considered taboo.
Some would say that there is no better way to get out of the closet (or amuse yourself whilst still in the closet) than by creating or reading gay comics. There is a wide variety in this genre as well: from the mainly sex-oriented comics by Tom of Finland to the elaborate stories by Ralf König, which portray life of German gay men in the broadest sense. Where lesbians are concerned, they can be found in abundance in mainstream, heterosexual pornography - but a few of them cater especially to lesbian and bi-sexual women.
Disclaimer and Closing Comments
There are quite a few artists in the Comiclopedia that have participated in the erotic genre. It is not our intention to promote or endorse any sexually explicit comics or artists, but merely to educate our visitors about some of the brave artists who have done erotic comics, often against the social mores and prudish values which exist in many modern cultures. If you object to porn or this form of art, then look elsewhere for your entertainment, or perhaps consider a more open-minded approach to appreciating our own sexuality.