Category Archives: adult webcomic
It sometimes astounds me how many posts I’ve devoted to webcomics. It’s, like, more than “a lot” and just short of “a buttload.” The peril, at this point, is that sometimes you run the risk of saying the exact same thing about one webcomic that you said about another webcomic. Repeating myself is perhaps my second greatest fear in the world.
The first is my mom’s dog, Cinnamon.
Curse that Japanese Chin his sharp, pointy fangs. Why am I the only person he ever seems to bite?
So when I sat down to write about Tim Sievert’s Clandestinauts (a webcomic that I chose to read primarily because I am a big fan of the world “clandestine” — seriously, when I was a kid, I even created a superhero with that name), I was set to write, “Well, as much as I like the art, I wasn’t too big a fan of the story.” Then I thought to myself, “Wait. Didn’t I write that once? Like, at least five times before?”
If I had the time or inclination, I could probably track down all instances I expressed the exact same sentiment. I’m pretty sure I said the same thing about, say, What Birds Know. But life is short, and plan on spending my free time owning noobs on iPad/iPhone game Valor later, so let’s just say that I’ve said it a lot.
Having read my share of Scandinavian comics, I’ve come to the conclusion that the folks up North are way more comfortable with nudity than my relatively South East Asian upbringing. That seems topsy turvy to me somehow. My heritage is from an equatorial nationality, and my ancestors lived on a waterfront fishing community. Shouldn’t people who live on a tropical island be the ones more comfortable with running around in the buff, not those pasty white people who hail from the land of ice and show?
Apparently not, as Denmark’s Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler’s webcomic Wulffmorgenthaler can attest. (All links here are assumed NSFW.) It received a one month run in the Politiken national newspaper, got adapted on Danish channel DR2, and became the subject of animated shorts broadcast on MTV Europe.
And yes, at least in the earlier strips, nudity is a matter of fact. People in the comic walk around with no clothes on, sometimes for reasons that escape me. One that really baffles me is a couple that’s naked while robbing banks. How does that help? Wouldn’t running around starkers leave DNA everywhere for police to collect? And how does being naked have to do with the punchline, which is “Women be shopping”?
There’s a place in San Francisco called the Tenderloin. It’s a sketchy area filled with crime, drugs, and prostitution. In its past, the neighborhood was filled with boxing gyms, gambling establishments, and speakeasies, and today it remains the same, only replaced with liquor stores and strip clubs.
The seediness is almost a point of cultural pride. Dashiell Hammett, author of the Maltese Falcon, immortalized the area as the base of operations for hard-boiled detective Sam Spade. He elevated the Tenderloin to mythical proportions by transforming it into a place that seethed mystery and danger.
When I visited San Francisco a few years back, I stayed in a hotel a block west of The Tenderloin. Trust me, I wasn’t quite so well versed in San Francisco geopolitics at the time. One thing you notice immediately is that the place is full of homeless people. Generally non-threatening homeless people (at least from what I encountered), but quite numerous nonetheless.
Massive Black Entertainment’s Transient Man is a romantic adventure about the homeless of the Tenderloin. The story is told through a homeless man named Bob who talks to interdimensional beings that aid him on his journey in saving the universe. This high concept premise is already so inherently intriguing that it would have to work incredibly hard to fritter away any goodwill.
I’ve brought up the subject of John Kricfalusi on this blog before. Needless to say, I’m not much a fan of his style. Now, I appreciate his love and respect for cartooning history, since I too have a similar love the cleverness and creativity in classic newspaper comic strips as shown in my “Know Thy History” entries. While I don’t agree with him, I love how he seems to have a disdain for Pixar, The Simpsons, and anime. It’s a refreshing, unconventional stand, and I like how he backs himself up with the passion of a thousand burning suns.
However, I don’t think he’s as revolutionary of a cartoonist as many think he is. In fact, at the risk of drawing hatemail from hardcore John K fans, I think he’s a bit overrated. Much has been said of how he brought the veiny “ugly” style of cartooning and gross-out gags into the mainstream. It’s revolutionary! Maybe. But to me, the intentionally off-putting art style was just that… off-putting. Some people will see Powder Toast Man thrust his hairy nipples in Ren’s eyes and find it the pinnacle of humor. I am not one of those people, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
In fact, I think Craig McCracken and Bruce Timm have had more influence. Powerpuff Girls made it safe for simple, retro-style cartoons that dominated Cartoon Network for over a decade. Meanwhile, Batman: The Animated Series signaled a significant improvement for action toons: the static, kitchy 80′s styles from Dic and Sunbow turned into a fluid, flexible style that emphasized action and movement. Heck, I’d go so far to say that Mike Judge did more for the “ugly” style of cartooning than John K. What did Ren & Stimpy influence? Spongebob Squarepants … and that’s about it.
(You could probably argue that John K. is a major influence for KC Green, and for that I’m thankful. However, I’d still read way more KC Green than watch one episode of Ren & Stimpy. It’s like KC Green was better at being John K. than John K. was.)
It’s probably fair to say, though, that Aaron J. Paetz, Chris Allison, Ryan Kramer, and Mike Nassar don’t feel the same way. They’re the cartoonists behind Toonhole, which oozes the Spumco style from every pore.
Now, I should warn you, the links on this site are definitely not going to be of the safe-for-work variety. I don’t feel like tagging every link with an NSFW, so I just warn you now: proceed at your own risk. Don’t click on any link lest your boss look over your shoulder to see… well, we’ll go into detail later.
Most webcomics are written by nerds for nerds. It’s a fact of life. People who draw webcomics have a certain passion for comics and an acuity in computers. That spells N-E-R-D-S.
As a strange result, webcomic settings are not only the same, they’re typically squeaky clean. Take your typical slice-of-life webcomic. They’re usually either set in college, or at high school, or in the comforting embraces of suburbia. The closest you get are stories about jobless post-college slackers who sit on their couch and complain about having no money. But how poor can they possibly be if, in every other scene, we usually see them tapping way at their XBox controllers?
Thus, it’s rather unique when I encounter a webcomic set in the more unconventional world of the inner city. It’s the world popularized, mythologized, exaggerated, and romanticized by gangsta rappers and filmmakers like Spike Lee and John Singleton. It’s where the windows of crumbling brick buildings are barricaded by black iron grates. Where drug dealers are a fact of life. And where you’re always under the thumb of The Man.
But, hey, it’s life, and you get by. Especially if you’re protected by a bear. A Party Bear.
Nostalgia. It’s a terrible thing. It makes you feel old, and creates the illusion that everyone’s missing out by not growing up the same.
Nothing gets your nostalgia running quite like music from yesteryore. This is why the Sirius XM Corporation manages to suck money out of my wallet every month. Everyone’s got their own era, but my formative years are hard coded in the “90′s on 9″ station. Oh, sure, the format’s awful. The range is too wide: it goes from Salt N’ Pepa “Let’s Talk About Sex” to Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle,” which were before and after my time. The music selection’s not ideal, either. Let’s just say that the audiences for alternative and hip hop and Celine Dion never really crossed paths. But when it gets it right, it gets it right. The moment Red Hot Chili Peppers or Collective Soul or, heck, Marcy Playground hits, I’m immediately transported to a world when MTV videos were poetry, flannels were a fashion statement, and personal hygiene was optional.
I know what you’re thinking. “Go to bed, OLD MAN!” That’s the risk of waxing nostalgic: unless your audience is nearly the same age as you, you inevitably sound like Grandpa Simpson, rambling on and on about absolutely inconsequential items that no one wants to listen to. Ramble on too much, and people get tired with the implied arrogance on elevating one’s memories of yesteryear over those of others. This is why there’s a bit of a backlash against Baby Boomers these days: we are pretty damn tired with your incessant Beatles deification and your Woodstock worship and your general cultural hegemony.
But in the end, we indulge in reminders of our past because, in a way, they’re a nice reminder of the days when everything was possible and there was no limit to the future.
With Byron Wilkins, his personal nostalgia trip is located somewhere in between. I’ll give you three guesses which era he’s going to flashback to in his webcomic, entitled 1977.
I became a comic fan in the early 90′s during the debut of Jim Lee’s X-Men. Thanks to my nerdy, obsessive nature, I ended up taking a strong interest in the history of comics. I used to hope up at the Detroit Public Library, head up the stairs to the second floor (which had some fantastic Diego Rivera murals that I didn’t appreciate at the time), and pored through various books about comic book history. I learned about obscure, now-forgotten heroes, reveled in pages devoted to Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and took a passing interest in the Kitchen Sink Comix movement of the 1970′s.
When the book got to the 80′s, a couple of names stood out prominently: the husband and wife team Wendy and Richard Pini. Their comic, Elfquest, was the standard bearer for indie comics of the 1980′s. It was THE sterling and unassailable example that creators didn’t need to sell their souls to the Big Two to create a comic book hit.
However, I never got into Elfquest much. I tried reading the books, which were also available in hardcover at the library, but they weren’t for me. I think the books were successful because they pursued the female comic reader market before manga proved to everyone that they were commercial viable. While a noble pursuit, these delicate fantasy comics filled with dewy-eyed pretty boys were definitely not for me, who longed for nothing more than to read page after page of muscly guys punching each other.
Still, I was filled with giddy excitement when, one day while browsing through the “webcomic” entry of Wikipedia, I ran across Wendy Pini’s name attached to an online adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. Ah, I thought, the perfect gateway into the world of Wendy Pini! I loved Poe’s original short story, and I was excited to see how that would translate to comics.
Imagine my surprise when the webcomic bore less resemblance to Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and more similarities to Anne Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. That is to say that Rice, writing under the name A.N. Roquelaure, mainly used a well known story as a framework for erotic literature about bondage, domination, and sadomasochism.
In case it hadn’t bee quite clear to you yet, Wendy Pini’s Masque of the Red Death is similarly and adults-only affair. The review itself doesn’t really go overboard into NSFW territory, but, still, proceed at your own caution.
So what is it that webcomic creators find sexy? Sexy webcomics are all the rage, what with Lauren Davis expounding on pornographic webcomics at her site (link NSFW) and adult collectives becoming news over at Robot 6 (link perhaps SFW).
Let’s face it… sex sells. So what makes a webcomic sexy? In its continued quest for tasteful excellence, the Webcomic Overlook takes a look at a few of the most important assets that make titillation fun for people of all ages. What elements deliver the wow-wow-wee? The answers may surprise you.
Be warned, while the following is not exactly NSFW, you probably don’t want to get caught at work staring at them anyway.