Robot 6

The Middle Ground #35 | Less words, more pictures?

Here’s one of those questions that you know you shouldn’t ask on the internet, but can’t quite resist: Man, what’s the deal with pornography, huh?

Okay, there’s more to it than just turning into the comic press version of Jerry Seinfeld, I promise. What I’m really thinking about was what might be, for me, the most eagerly-anticipated book of 2011, Dave McKean’s Celluloid.

For those of you who don’t know what that is yet – I don’t think it’s gotten a lot of press, and I didn’t really know much beyond its existence before getting the 2011 Spring catalog for Fantagraphics in the mail the other day – it’s McKean’s second solo full-length graphic novel (Cages being his first, but even that was serialized before its publication), 232 pages to be released in June, and described by the publisher as “a rare instance (especially among Anglo-Saxons) of a top-flight cartoonist working with erotic – even pornographic, to embrace the word – parameters, with the intent of creating a genuine work of art.”

My first reaction to that: I can’t wait to see McKean-created porn.

My second reaction to that: Oh God, I have Lost Girls flashbacks. Please, please, don’t let it be that bad.

My third reaction to that: What is it about comics and porn?

There really should be more comics porn, surely (By which I mean, there should be more printed porn comics; I know that the internet is already full to the brim). I mean, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense; comics is a visually-led narrative medium, so why isn’t there more of a porn market out there? Is it the dual stigma of comics as kids’ material and porn being… well, porn, and never the twain shall meet? Is it that the direct market has proven to be – with some good reason, I think we’ll all remember – skittish about selling adult material? Or is the long, dark shadow of Lost Girls really that oppressively terrifying that it just puts other creators off the entire idea?

(There is, of course, the strong possibility that there’s a massive comics porn market that exists even outside of the “Previews Adult Catalog” that I have no knowledge of, a shadow market in the same way that porn movies exist on a parallel plain to mainstream movies, and I rely on you, dear readers, to educate me if that’s the case. But, while I’m in parentheses mode, Lost Girls really is terrible. If you haven’t read it, you really don’t want to be wasting your time.)

Maybe it’s my hope and optimism that Celluloid will be fantastic, but I suddenly find myself liking the idea of familiar creators approaching the subject of sex without the need for censorship (self or imposed) or relying on innuendo and suggestion. Maybe 2011 will prove to be the year when the comic industry doesn’t necessarily grow up, but at least reaches that point where it starts hiding things under the bed and thinks about more adult things, hoping to get there eventually.



America and England have yet to cross the bridge that the rest of Europe and Japan crossed a long time ago which is very accomplished artists, sometimes outright masters of the craft, doing pornographic comics.

Bernet, Serpieri and Manara are the most immediate to spring to mind as having created masterpieces of porn.

I’ve only seen two-three manga artists create books that I would hold up and say ‘you need to see this’ as something that holds up as a piece of art beyond the pornographic content.

I personally would like to see a Mike Mignola porn comic some day. That’d be something.

Also, I’m hoping that one day we’ll uncover that secret stash of unpublished Jack Kirby porn comics.

What do you have against Lost Girls? I mean, yes, it contained a lot of childhood raping (literally) but other than that, what’s so bad about it? It was artsy pornographic fanfiction, and it never pretended to be anything else.

I never ever want to see porn by Mike Magnola, that would be plain freaky

I could go for some Jack Kirby porn though

@Imitorar: having low expectations is kind of a silly defense for a book.
You could say that Ultimatum was stupid over-the-time violent fanfiction and never pretended to be anything else.

You are entitled to your opinion of Lost Girls, but most Amazon reviews on the book seem to be positive (of the 52 reviews, 9 are either one or two stars, 9 are three stars and 34 are four or five stars). I haven’t read the book, but this seems to go along nicely with the opinions of the people who actually get paid to say them.

As such, I think you should perhaps expand on your views of Lost Girls. You seem to assume that your view is commonly held, which it doesn’t seem to be. Understanding your opinion in this regard might help us understand the point of this article better, as well.

For a McKean porn piece, check out his submission to the First Time anthology, translated and published by NBM’s Eurotica imprint last year.

“LOST GIRLS” is not “for me,” but I too cast suspicion at your description of the book. Everybody I know who read it got a lot out of it. I at least trust in the validity of my peers’ judgement in this matter. Though not a personal expert.

@ Dacl: Having low expectations is kind of a silly defense for a book.
You could say that Ultimatum was stupid over-the-time violent fanfiction and never pretended to be anything else.

Well, of course one would expect it to be good artsy pornographic fanfiction. And from what I’ve heard, it was. I’ve only ever skimmed it, so I can’t really judge, but the general consensus seems to be that it was good, so I’m curious as to why this blogger thought it was bad..

Lost Girls is possibly the greatest piece of graphic fiction of any kind ever published. So says I. Ask for it at your local library today!

Our society has some ridiculous taboos that we inherited from more primitive times and haven’t yet shaken off; our fear of sex is one of them. Now sure, sex is a serious matter that should be handled carefully by adults, but so is driving a car, and nobody hides cars from sight. So I agree that erotica CAN make for good stories -sex IS part of life after all- but it takes some good writing to do well. Which btw, LOST GIRLS didn’t have, even if had excluded the childporn; that’s its biggest criticism, even by Moore’s fans- it just wasn’t up to his standards.

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