“Perverse victoriana” is a phrase from this documentary that captured my imagination. It is so descriptive and so accurate but it can encompass a myriad of things. Also, I rather like the word perverse. The idea of examining sex in comics can seem rather weird at first but when you look at most comics there is a clear element of sex appeal in the heroes and heroines. C’mon, the costumes alone are pretty scandalous when you think about it. I was intrigued by this notion of a market for comic books based solely in sex. This documentary certainly satisfied my curiosity. (Wink, wink!!).
The host of the documentary is a burlesque star and she is gorgeous and fully cognizant of her appeal. She struts across the scenes while oozing tons of confidence and fun. Which is absolutely a great fit for describing the whole documentary and the genre. It is confident, fun, scary, sexy, and overall highly entertaining. Even the way the documentary uses her presence in different spaces and with different backgrounds is interesting. It will go from black and white, to 3d to passionate colors and then old films within four frames, but it’s not busy or distracting. It’s very enjoyable.
The comic book artists that are featured represent a range of subgenres within the overall category. Manara, an Italian artist, dwells firmly in the Renaissance and classical Greek type of artistry with peachy pale slender women. He acknowledges that his art represents the mythical ideal of beauty and seduction. Think Venus rising from the seas, or Artemis chasing down a deer. Full of “classic lines” and soft edges. On the another part of the continuum is Aide Picault, a French artist who focuses on depicting the hyper sexuality of a middle class woman. She gets lost in her own fantasies which are at odds with her outward appearance. Then there is the complete other end of the continuum in which the sexuality of the characters is macabre and creepy, with animals or weapons. Pretty intense stuff that the documentary tackles unabashedly.
After the introduction to the genre and some of the imagery, the documentary moves to the more personal stories of the artists themselves. In their own words they explain why they were drawn to create the type of comics that they do. It is an honest and earthy recounting of their own tastes and sometimes bafflement at the things they find sexy. The interviews bring a very human element to a world of fantasy and fantastic caricatures.
Sex in Comics is a bit racy, a bit bracing, informative and fun. It tackles a topic that is clearly out in the open but somehow gets missed. If you are at all into learning about something you may not otherwise pay attention to, or if you are simply turned on by the eroticism that runs through a great many of our mainstream comics I would definitely recommend this documentary.
Curiosity fuels Ayanna Jones-Lightsy in which science fiction and fantasy are the perfect place to indulge. As a Black girl living in this world, she hasn’t always seen myself reflected in the genre. Ayanna is an attorney, amateur historian, and mother of two. Her blog is an attempt to contribute to the creation of as many cosmopolitans as possible. Resistance is futile! Check her out at http://www.livelearn.wordpress or on twitter @JonesLightsyEsq