While on my journey of self discovery and understanding of the “immovement of Art, Interrupted” I stumbled across an interesting, simple and tight documentary called Sex in the Comics (watch on Netflix Canada) where they investigate the life and thoughts of artists who are (in)famous for their work in illustrated erotica.
While the doc approached only from a single angle (that of positivity and focused on the opinions of those who celebrate or stand to make a living), it was an interesting and inspiring piece. Fortunately, it allows for an undisturbed echo chamber and opportunity for the creators to convey why they do what they do, and their methods and influences. In this social media world stacked with the over-reaching screams and whines of Social Justice Nazis, it was a breath of fresh air to hear from the creators unsuppressed.
It was amazing to hear the thoughts of one of my idols and inspirations, Italian erotic artist Milo Manara. Subsequently, I also became educated on the mind of American cartoonist Robert Crumb, of whom I was never a fan. I quickly grew very fond of his delivery and fully respect how he conveys his work and his efforts during the underground movements of the 70s and 80s. Perhaps he has made a new fan.
All-in-all, it certainly put a spotlight on the puritanical conservatism that presides and empowers America and completely contradicts and negates the SJW perspective that illustrators are just a bunch of horny misogynists.
It also reminded me of my roots.
I was sexually curious in my early life, despite what science may tell you, long before puberty. What triggered it, is hard to say, but I think there could be a relation to a close bond of matriarchy as my mother was a stay-at-home parent for many years. I was also exposed (unintentionally) to such sinister things such as “dirty” late night movies (I was expected to be asleep, when really I was upstairs peering down from the landing at the TV watching films such as Animal House and similar frat boy films aired after prime time) or sneaking into my parents bathroom and reading my dad’s stash of Playboy magazine.
It wasn’t so much the naked girls or sexual innuendo or such that truly piqued my interest, but the artistry behind the feminine figure. The perfect roundness of the breasts, or the seductive yet demure poses and curves and softness alluded to with filters.
And then the artwork!
One of my favourite influences was Playboy artist, Doug Sneyd who was able to capture that feminine figure like no other. (Later I learned he was a native of my very same hometown; what a coincidence! What is in that Guelph water? Maybe that is why Nestlé is trying to take it all.)
I was also exposed to Heavy Metal Magazine and the iconic film which was littered with eroticism among the science fiction and fantasy art. I would be remiss to not mention the amazing and influential covers by iconic artists such as Olivia, Royo, Boris, Frazetta and such.
I also remember those European cartoon books at the school library which occasionally featured naked women (and somehow got past the scrutinizing eyes of the school board), and the big shelf of Encyclopedia Britannica in my household hallway, which had very intriguing cello pages of the human anatomy.
As I got older, my experiences expanded to more explicit porn, illustrating my own spoof erotica (I originated Star Whors featuring Handy Solo and Princess Lei-me), and enjoying more and more adult illustrated literotica and cartoons, such as the grotesque Fritz the Cat and other late night television.
All of this, while also reading mainstream comic books and appreciating the talents and ability to conveys stories, with hypersexualized figures and fantastical storylines.
It wasn’t that this early and ongoing fascination with sex and the feminine form made for perverse and eclectic fetishism in my lifestyle, (I admittedly am probably fairly bland when it comes to sexual experimentation) but it quite simply gave me an appreciation for the aforementioned mediums.
What it truly did was open my mind, in a fairly conservative society, that sex is not bad or taboo, but it is something that should be embraced and exhibited and experienced in all of its artistic (legally acceptable) intricacies.
I was previously of the mind that women were tightly wound, conservative and meek and in need of protection, only because of a society that treated women with kid gloves, wrapping them in bubble wrap, “Never hit a woman” expectations. (In reality, you shouldn’t hit anybody, unless they consent.)
It wasn’t until I started to understand them through interaction as I grew, highlighted by the stories I read in various erotica that I truly understood that a woman could be as equally sexual and erotic as anyone. A number of erotica stories (especially European) feature the main female protagonist exploring her own sexuality, fetishes or desires, finding herself in precarious situations and using her feminine wiles to solve any problem. Many creators and fans of erotica are women as well.
Social media has eliminated much of the social stigma for women, allowing them, like many of these erotic characters to explore their own sexualization and feminism in various forms and exhibitionistic freedoms.
As I continue to see and understand the erotic mind of any gender, I start to wonder if erotica is my genre. I love the figures, the forms, the sexualization, the deviance, the controversy, the quirkiness and mirth that many pieces present. Maybe I can explore the erotic mind through my artwork.
Maybe erotica is what it will take to move the immovement of Art, Interrupted.