In The Gutter: Review

Erotic Comics Vol. 2: A Graphic History From The liberated 70’s To The Internet

eroco27Erotic Comics Vol. 2, by Tim Pilcher, chronicles the genre’s growth from the seventies through the present. It has a lot to offer to those just getting to first base with the medium, yet, it ultimately comes up short as a definitive survey of the art form.

For anyone who has been reading erotic comics for more than a few months, and has the slightest knowledge of their history, you will immediately encounter inaccuracies, or at least things in which to strongly disagree with Mr. Pilcher about.

I knew this would be a tough read from the get go as, early on in the section covering magazines, Pilcher praises the new revamped version of Heavy Metal(now edited by Kevin Eastman) for its increased eroticism. If anything, under Eastman, the Magazine has become far tamer and less explicit than its first run through in the seventies and eighties under the National Lampoon imprint. Perhaps, this accounts for the all time low of circulation the magazine has experienced these past years. When one flips through pages of Heavy Metal today, you will be hard pressed to find full frontal female nudity, let alone the more taboo male nudity in comics exhibited prominently in Den (Richard Corben) serialized in the first few years of the magazine’s publication.

Obviously one cannot hope to cover the scope of an entire art form in two books, as Pilcher has attempted, but there are certain moments in the history of the subject matter that he either glosses over, or simply does not bother mentioning at all which are inexcusable if your goal is to capture the biggest moments in the last forty years of erotic comics.

The biggest of these slips is his complete lack of information regarding the publisher Carnal Comix. Yes this blog indeed is sponsored by Carnal, but I’ve been a fan of the publisher long before this blog ever came into being. Plus kiddies, I don’t get paid a cent for this gig… Carnal did something that no other publisher has done, it blended porn stars and comics into the perfect package of titillating treats, with its illustrated autobiographies of porn star series. The series not only took the comics’ world by storm in the early nineties, but the adult entertainment industry as well. Why there is no mention of this groundbreaking moment in erotic comics’ history escapes me. Other less, but equally frustrating moments in the book include: Pilcher’s limiting the controversy of Barry Blair exclusively to his adults only work, as well his gross unfamiliarity with the publisher Verotik.

Barry Blair’s adult work actually didn’t cause too much of a stir. What got Mr. Blair in hot water was his work on Elfquest, the all ages series being deemed pedophilia. Blair loved to put those childlike half naked elves in various states of intertwining affection, giving parents the impression that little Johnny was looking at kids engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior. If you’re not familiar with Blair’s work, please do make an attempt to discover it as he is a true master of color.

In his section dedicated to the publisher Verotik, Pilcher completely misses the boat on what exactly made the company unique. Sure he hits the most important point that Verotik’s content focuses on erotic horror, but he does not discuss what makes it worthy of being a chapter in a history of erotic comics’ book. Although Pilcher does refer to the title Sunglasses After Dark as being one of Verotik’s most popular titles, he underscores its importance of being adapted from a Bram Stoker award winning novel. Verotik employed only the best writers in erotic horror fiction and as a result it wasn’t just the gory art that made its product popular, but the stories as well. Just to be nitpicky I should state for the truly devoted erotic comics fan that extremely controversial story A Taste of Cherry receives no attention either in the Verotik section.

After reading all this criticism and yes there’s plenty more one can point out that is wrong with Pilcher’s book (not the least, his highly ignorant view of certain genres in Japanese Manga) this work still deserves a place in your library, if for nothing else than that you won’t find a more diverse collection of erotic art on the market. This has a little something everyone can enjoy from furies to gay comix, to the many fine renditions of the female form. In the chapters that Pilcher does appear to have done his homework on, you can find some excellent information especially on the rise of gays and lesbians in comics. Many milestones of the genre are revealed, such as Faust and Cherry Poptart. If you can keep from closing the book in disbelief at the lunacy of some of Pilcher’s comments, you’ll find inside a plethora of art to keep you drooling over for years to come.







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