Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Continuing our look at various small press publishers plans for the new year, today i thought we’d take a few moments to delve into Picturebox’s latest catalog. Join me, won’t you?
The depressing majority of comics seem to be about violence of one sort or another, yet how much violence does the average person have to deal with in their everyday lives? Unless you live in Bogotá or somewhere similar, mostly it’s pretty petty stuff; the odd drunk looking for a fight, the odd crazy shouty person, the odd mad taxi driver, maybe. And I just don’t enjoy violence. I can see that narratively it is often a powerful spike in a story, but I certainly don’t want to dwell on it. I don’t want it in my real life, I don’t find violence entertaining in and of itself, or exciting, or funny.
But sex is happily part of most people’s lives, and crosses the mind most days, I would say, even if it’s just watching your partner get out of bed in the morning. All my stories tend to be about things that mean a lot to me and may be fragmented through dream imagery, or metaphorical settings, but basically, my stories are just about the people and places in my life.
–Dave McKean, artist of Arkham Asylum and many memorable collaborations with Neil Gaiman (including The Sandman‘s distinctive covers), on Celluloid, the upcoming porno-graphic novel from Fantagraphics that’s his first big comics project since his 1998 magnum opus Cages. I like that practical argument on erotica’s behalf. Ideally, we’ve had sex more often than we’ve thrown punches or shot bullets — why not reflect that in the art we make and consume?
McKean’s whole CBR interview with Robot 6’s own Chris Mautner makes for a fascinating read: He fills us in on how he’s been spending his time (lots of comics-esque collaborations with avant-garde musicians), talks about the unique challenging of baring it all (artistically speaking) in an erotic comic, discusses working with live models for some of the book’s sequences, and more.
Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.
To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
At least one constructive thing came out of Jess Fink‘s latest battle with copyright thieves, I became aware that her new “erotic, robotic” book, Chester 5000, was set to be released this May from Top Shelf. Be advised (if the erotic adjective was not clear enough) that as beautiful as I find Fink’s work, a good majority of it is NSFW, so be aware of that before clicking any links (though in Top Shelf’s defense, its five-page preview carries nothing too erotically risque [though proceed with caution if you’re at the office reading this]). Mindful of the fast approaching release date, I emailed some questions to Fink this past week. Here’s the official Top Shelf description of the book: “1885: an age of industrial revolution and sexual frustration. Pricilla is a woman with needs, and her inventor husband Robert is a little too busy with his experiments to keep her fully satisfied. Science to the rescue! With a few gears and springs, the proper appendages, a little lubrication, and a lot of love, Chester 5000 is born! He’s the perfect tool for the job… but what if Chester is more than just a machine? What are the consequences of trying to engineer love?” We also discuss her other Top Shelf book, We Can Fix It!, as well the stress of battling the copyright crooks.
Tim O’Shea: Chester 5000 is definitely erotically charged, but I think you’re also enamored of working diagrams into your stories (Extendo Limbus, for example). Where does your love of things mechanical and diagrams begin?
Jess Fink: I really love mechanical drawings from the 1800’s. Or even just product drawings from adds and catalogs. After photography was invented it was still much cheaper to hire artists to draw your products so we get these lovely, detailed little drawings of just about anything you can imagine. The diagrams in Chester were partly inspired by these. You can find a great deal of reference for Victorian items in the Sears and Roebuck catalog.
Dirty comics have been around almost as long as the medium itself. No doubt a few years after the Yellow Kid first appeared, some wiseacre created a Tijuana Bible of him getting busy with Buster Brown’s mom.
Sadly, most of the sex comics produced over the years are awful, dreary affairs — works that either feature abysmal art and writing or indulge in such ugly stereotypes (or both), so that you feel ashamed for all the people involved, including yourself for having read the thing.
But there are a few gems amidst the x-rated dross. Below are six smut-laden books that, while you may not want to be caught reading them on the bus, can proudly display on your bookshelf without embarrassment.
I had a couple of self-imposed rules with this one. First of all, the comic had to be sexually explicit. Second, it had to be primarily designed to titillate the reader, thus nixing darker, serious work like Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life.
Also, I’m sure there are plenty of books I’m forgetting about (catering to my own tastes, there’s a focus on heterosexual fare here), so feel free to mention your own particular favorites in the comments section. You naughty thing you.
Finally, while I’ve tried to keep everything below the jump relatively safe for work, I can’t promise that all the links will be PG-rated, so caveat emptor.
“Sluts of Dracula” is totally today’s phrase that pays. Seriously, if I were a publisher I’d greenlight a book called Sluts of Dracula sight unseen. Of course, since the phrase was coined by cartoonist Becky Cloonan — who then provided ample, gorgeous, gloriously NSFW illustrations of the concept — it really wouldn’t be that much of a risk.
At their spotlight panel today, the folks at alternative comics publisher Top Shelf talked about a metric ton of titles they’ve got coming down the pipeline. None are more intriguing to me than the work of Jess Fink, a newcomer to the Top Shelf stable best known for her erotic steampunk-porn webcomic Chester 5000 XYV. Top Shelf is releasing a Chester collection in December — quite a stocking stuffer for that special someone! — and following it with another book from Fink called We Can Fix It!, which combines memoir and science fiction and promises to be on the sexy side as well. Fink, who’s also working on a new website for her personal comics and a one-shot featuring the band Mindless Self Indulgence for Image, took time out from turning people on to tackle our questions about her relationship with Top Shelf, sex, science fiction and more.
So how did a nice girl like you get mixed up with a dirty comic like Chester 5000 XYV?
Ha, who are you calling nice? And girl? And Jess? Oh wait, that is me. I’ve been drawing dirty things for a loooong time, longer than I’ve been comfortable telling people I draw dirty things so it’s more like how did this nice comic get mixed up with a dirty person like me? If we want to talk about inspiration I think a lot of it came from the Tijuana Bibles which were these tiny porn comics made in the 20’s-40’s. Before porn was legal to sell guys used to sell these little black and white books on the street. When I found out about them I became obsessed and I knew I’d have to make some of my own.