THE SEX ISSUE: Get your pencils out for the best graphic porn
Erotic comics are a special breed of porn. Unlike prose, they can show as well as describe. Unlike photos, they're narrative. Unlike film, they have a limitless special effects budget. Comics are capable of everything from gritty, realistic detail to "yowza!" flights of fancy perfect for the demands of erotica.
And yet good erotic comics seem in short supply. Despite a venerable history that stretches from the Tijuana Bibles of the 1920s to the wild antics of the underground comix movement in the '60s and '70s, porn comics have languished of late. Alternative and independent comics have been trending more toward asexuality. And gay male erotic cartoonists are only now struggling out of the shadow of Tom of Finland, whose comics of square-jawed, fascist-reminiscent leathermen and bikers have dominated gay erotic art in the same way that Tolkien's imagination bound and gagged fantasy writers for generations.
Once you start digging, however, it's remarkable the gems you can find. The fact that comics are so marginalized creates a kind of purity to the art form. Cartoonists aren't motivated by fame and fortune, but rather by their passion for their stories and their art. The same is doubly true for erotic cartoonists, whose work is often an evolution of the naughty pictures they drew compulsively while growing up.
Here are a few of the most unusual, hot, and fun recent erotic comics collections to get your juices flowing.
BEST EROTIC COMICS 2009
Greta Christina, Editor
A man stimulates the orifice of a bound mermaid with a twig, an infertile professor convinces a student to impregnate his wife, a dominatrix hires a gay masseur to fuck her boyfriend, a sadistic dom pisses all over her girlfriend, King Kong and Godzilla have hot sex in the ruins of Tokyo.
Best Erotic Comics, an annual collection of the best and brightest of kinky comics, is yet another reason to be proud of our sexy Bay Area, published as it is by legendary, local institution Last Gasp. Editor Greta Christina has assembled an impressive collection of literary smut comics that run the full gamut of sexual interests, from octopus sex to airplane sex. It's especially refreshing to see straight porn side by side with gay and lesbian imagery it allows the reader to understand sexuality as a spectrum of possibilities, and to see how hot the fantasies of others can be.
Odd as it may seem, the best bear comics porn in the world is coming out of Japan, a country with a noticeable lack of big, hairy men. Clearly the exotic has its erotic charms. Unlike yaoi the popular manga genre in which female cartoonists create stories of gay male romance and sex for an audience of girls and women bara is gay manga created by actual gay male creators and usually does not feature the yaoi breed of androgynous boys with big eyes and floppy hairdos, but rather burly, hypermasculine men.
No one is better at portraying these than Gengoroh Tagame, arguably the world's greatest, living erotic cartoonist. His universe is populated with the hottest muscle bears outside of the Lone Star's patio during Folsom Street Fair weekend, and they have a tendency to be tied up, humiliated, and fucked senseless. Pride is a recent trilogy of books from the master, detailing the gradual transformation of a cocky, hirsute hunk into an obedient slave by a buff, bearded professor. The books are full of all sorts of S-M shenanigans, with our hero being put through the paces, from extreme bondage and piercings to fistings and scat play. Tagame has yet to be translated into English, but he's such an accomplished cartoonist that his work can still be thoroughly enjoyed.
(Eros Comix, 2002)
While lesbian imagery exists in various straight publications, there is an unfortunate dearth of true lesbian erotic comics. Colleen Coover's Small Favors is a notable exception. Coover is an excellent cartoonist and clearly has a great time illustrating her two heroines, Annie and Nibbil, having wild, fun, and juicy sex.
Annie is accused of masturbating too much by her own conscience and is assigned a finger-tall guardian to stop her from getting jiggy with it too often. Fortunately, this tiny watcher winds up being a nympho herself, and jumps Annie at her first opportunity, leading to comics' best introduction line ever: "Ummm ... Hi, Annie! My name's Nibbil! Gosh, I hope you don't mind me fucking myself on your nipple!"
Occasionally you'll stumble across some underground, barely-distributed mini-comic, put together by the creator with a photocopier and a stapler, that will take your breath away. BiL Sherman's Wanky Comics is bizarrely brilliant, completely original, and about as underground as you can get.
While the subject matter of the stories in WC ranges wildly from horny unicorns and space-age sex clones to an inexplicably naked superhero and his quest for love, Sherman has a distinctive style that unifies the series. He draws like a thirteen-year-old with OCD and a hard-on, filling his pages with burly, hairy men. Each chest hair is lovingly and obsessively drawn, and the faces are rugged and expressive.
Sherman is unafraid to get both funny and surreal, a refreshing trait in porn comics. The "Mike Thorn and the Nine Satanic Statements," episode, for example, is a blow-by-blow illustration of a scene on a porn set, while the text underneath the images is taken directly from Anton Levey's Satanic Bible, creating a strangely disconnected, campy, yet beautiful juxtaposition.
(Eros Comix, 1992)
Hernandez is one of the creators, along with brothers Jaime and Mario, of Love and Rockets, arguably the single greatest American comic book. Rarely does such a world-class, literary cartoonist turn his talents to porn. Luckily, however, the highly prolific Hernandez created Birdland, a voyeuristic foray into the lives of strippers, bodybuilders, and horny aliens and one of the classics of erotic comics.
Birdland introduces characters such as Fritz, the large-breasted, brainy psychiatrist with a lisp and a passion for guns, which Hernandez later incorporated into L&R. But while L&R certainly never shies away from sexual material, Birdland is unabashedly erotica, with copious cum shots filling the pages.
Though Hernandez identifies as straight, Birdland is in many ways pansexual erotica, with every type of coupling depicted. The final scene, in which the characters have a giant orgy in a spaceship, is one of the most oddly liberating and transcendent sex sequences ever conceived. After reading it, anything seems possible.
A GUIDE TO PORN CARTOONISTS AT THIS YEAR'S FOLSOM STREET FAIR
The Folsom Street Fair on Sun/27 is all about community, and one of the ways it demonstrates this is by donating a block of booth space to queer erotic artists, many cartoonists. This year's little section of the Fair, at 11th Street and Folsom, is very exciting. Here's some highlights.
Chuck Connor and Sean Platter: the duo's Demonic Sex series pulls no punches with its depictions of satanic transformations and sexual hells. www.triplesixcomics.com 
Dave Davenport and Justin Hall: An accomplished tattoo artist, Davenport uses his illustration chops to create horny werewolves, skate punk ghosts, and other wholesome characters in Hard To Swallow, co-created with Justin Hall (that's me!). www.hardtoswallowcomics.com 
Steve MacIsaac: As the co-creator (along with Dale Lazarov) of Sticky, MacIsaac offers sex-positive stories instead of the rape fantasies that often dominate gay porn. www.stevemacisaac.com 
Bradley Rader: Harry and Dickless Tom is the story of two homophobic truckers who screw and then beat up fags. It turns surreal when one wakes up with a vagina. www.flamingartist.com 
Sean Z: Sean's Myth is a superb fantasy comic with complex plots, gorgeous color work, and big-dicked vampires. www.sean-z.com 
See www.folsomstreetfair.org/art  for more kinky artists.