It verges on tautology to state that comic art and caricature overlap. The idioms in which graphic novelists tell their stories always contain traits of satirical, humorous oeuvres that came into being in the early days of the medium, with bits and pieces from Busch, Kelly, Saint Ogan or whomever you consider to be one of the influential masters. The world – and everything in it – as depicted in a piece of comic art is therefore, to a certain degree, unavoidably hyperbolic, ironic and unscientific: Disney, not Doré… At the same time: lust is no joke. Or is it? In the 19th century the French writer George Sand sternly wrote: ‘Sex is the most respectable and holy thing in all creation, the most serious act in life.’ We may laugh out loud to the endless double entendres in sitcoms, but once engaged in our own erotic acts, we get dead serious. But what happens when you read a ‘dirty’ comic? Is it funny? And if it is, can it still make you horny? Considering the popularity of Tijuana Bibles in the 1930s and of pornographic Hentai cartoons – which get more internet searches in the US than Marvel! – at the moment, there is an insatiable hunger for caricatured sex.
THE HOUSE THAT GROANED 1
Hello, how are you today? It’s Simon Grennan here. In my graphic novels and cartoons, I love to explore the way sexy and strange can intertwine, and one of my inspirations is Karrie Fransman’s The House that Groaned. Imagine a residential block turning into a cosmic, if rather shabby respectable-seeming, body. Reading becomes a caress, a kiss, a slap, a blow – and not only in the episodes about a secret sensualist at the heart of an unexpected orgy.
If you’d like to feel the sexuality of the ancient Roman world, before Christian ethics, I recommend Peplum by Blutch, where murder, ritual and ecstasy are manifestations of the everyday.
STRANGERS IN PARADISE 3
Hi there! This is Mara Joustra, I’m a comics editor and excited to tell you about my very first encounter with erotics in comics. It was the series Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. The main character, Katchoo, is a former prostitute who always gets into trouble. She’s been in love with her best friend, the bad girl Francine, for most of her life. Francine normally dates boys that aren’t good for her, but sometimes hooks up with Katchoo. I’m sure you’ll feel some tickles below your chest, looking forward to the erotic moments between best friends.
The sweetest sex scene I know is in Blankets by Craig Thompson. A coming-of-age love story on how two very Christian teenagers fall in love for the first time despite all their beliefs. It’s an endless waiting for it to happen, and oh… it’s so worth it, it brings you back to this special feeling you experience with first times.
FAMILIAR FACE 5
Hi! It’s Nicholas Burman. I want to tell you about Michael DeForge’s Familiar Face, a drama on embodiment and desire in a heavily digitised and industrial world. This is a world where technology rules, and bodies morph as often as their surroundings. The figures, whose stretched limbs interlock, are forever stuck in my mind; they seem to have found serenity in a universe whose purpose is to distract and antagonise.
NAKED BODY 6
One of my favourite titles is an anthology of contemporary comics from China, which was published by the artist Yan Cong, who invited artists with the provocative request that all characters should be naked. The range of styles in here is dazzling. Two stories stand out to me. Hanada’s five-page strip, in which two giantesses share fluids in a deeply folkloric and deliberate tale. And of course, Cong’s own contribution, it’s such a darkly comical illustration of bodies and desires that can come about because of isolation and over consumption. You will love it.
PARALLEL LIVES 7
Hello, it’s Fiona Lutjenhuis. I’m just finalising the drawings for the next Extra Extra Radio Show. It’s a pleasure to meet you! Today I would like to share Parallel Lives, which is flooded with vibrant, pastel colours. Olivier Schrauwen writes and draws with a certain ‘fuck it’ attitude that is unpredictable and humorous.
MOTEL UNIVERSE 8
The beautiful series Motel Universe by Joakim Drescher makes you feel like there’s no tomorrow. The drawings are a feast for the eyes, the pages are filled with colourful characters and the storyline twists your mind in a fabulous way. Imagine sex on a macabre jungle planet!
DRAWN TOGETHER 9
Good morning, it’s Joost Pollmann. In 2012 the book Drawn Together was published (by Liveright), in which Aline Kominsky and Robert Crumb – as a couple that has always been in the forefront of counterculture, underground art and stubborn anti-establishment attitude – didn’t shy away from sharing their erotic adventures: the stories in this anthology are drawn by both artists. Kominsky and Crumb shamelessly share their intimacies with (voyeuristic) readers, and in doing so create a parody of Scenes from a Marriage, the famous miniseries directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1973. Without this shamelessness, of course, the book would have been false and hypocritical. Most noteworthy is the story ‘A Couple a’ Nasty, Raunchy Old Things’ in which renowned artists such as Charles Burn and Art Spiegelman participate in the (sexual) autobiography of the happy couple and mingle their drawing styles with those of Kominsky and Crumb: a hearty mix. The highlight of the story is the panel wherein Aline depicts the phallus of her husband in its actual and formidable size, exclaiming: ‘It’s so cute!’
DE GEVOELIGE MANNENCLUB 10
I want to share with you Michiel van de Pol’s new graphic novel. Harry, the protagonist, is married to Vera, who takes off her clothes on the very first page. She goes out in the street, harasses a stranger in the park and encounters Doctor Cagliari , a scientist who inoculates her with an elixir that enhances her sexual drive even further. This is a hilarious story about men’s fear of lust – how to tame a giant woman when you’re a tiny man.
Kim Duchateau is a Belgian comic artist who has become widely known for drawing the geeky adventures of his heroin Esther Verkest, a sexy redhead in high heels. Duchateau works in the old, Flemish tradition of absurdism, however, in the centre of his emphatically illogical universe there is always this Victoria’s Secret-like pin-up girl, a cruel but witty bombshell that keeps confusing the (male?) mind because she always mixes lust with laughter, a rather incongruent pair. Fifteen titles were brought together in the anthology Roodheidswaanzin or ‘Gingerbitch Madness.’
BLOSSOMS IN AUTUMN 12
Hello dear, it’s Erin La Cour and Rik Spanjers. We are currently in our Amsterdam Comics space. You should come and visit us! We’d like to recommend Blossoms in Autumn, a French–Dutch collaboration by Zidro and Aimée de Jongh that revolves around the passionate romance of an elderly couple. The scenes of lovemaking are truly endearing, showing that love and passion will always be present. It will surely win over your heart.