Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sex In The Comics

Why is sex in comics so hard to get right? Or to do at all? The folks over at The Hooded Utilitarian are having a bit of a go in the post Just because men are dead doesn't mean cheesecake needs to be, taking Y the Last Man to task over the lack of sex in the book among other things. Actually, they spend more time taking Brian Vaughn to task over not really providing more story, as opposed to simply rolling out the episodes along with each "what if" implicit in the context.

But lets get back to sex. In a world full of nothing but women, it does seem oddly purient that more sexuality isn't implicit or explicit in the series. Just as in a reverse secenario, where male readers wouldn't want to imagine that they would go gay in a world without women, perhaps Vaughn and the editors were unlikely to go the route of suggesting that more women would turn towards lesbianism than they might think, but its as valid a concept as any. Vaughn hints at it, with the suggestion of female prostitutes posing as men with fake beards, and one can only imagine the stock of vibrator making companies in that world.

What is mostly odd is the lack of female libido in the series. And this isn't 60 years ago when Kinsey was busy trying to quantify female sexuality. Just about every woman that i've ever known will admit to being horny at some point, and it seem almost neutering to have the women of Y cut off from their own sexuality as much as Lucy Ricardo and Laura Petrie were. Pia's art is, as Berlatsky puts it,
Guerra couldn't draw sexy to save her life.
And its true. Somewhere in Yorick's world there must have been some sexy women. Not overly glossy, pushed up fake boobs, and so skinny that there is no room for their internal organs, but sexy as in Luba or Maggie sexy. It is such a tragedy the Guerra pushes the camera back away from the action, whether physical or emotional, and uses that 15 feet of space to keep us from what heat that the few characters with their libidos intact generate.

Sex in comics has been notoriously hard to do correctly, and part of whether you like the sex or not has to depend on how you view the characters. If you see them as three dimensional, then adding the sexual component makes sense. Gilbert Hernandez has done a better job of that than anyone in modern comics. For two dimensional archetypes, it tends to be overly problematic to add a sexual dimension, since we're simply not used to thinking of them that way. Superman, Archie and Veronica, i'm looking at you. The residents of Palomar boink all the time, just off of my memory of reading 20 years worth of Love and Rockets. I just think that you get the idea from Pia's characters that they are like women in 1950's movies with boobs that don't actually move. Ever. Not a single jiggle. They are just perfectly conical and firm. Poor things.

Perhaps, in all fairness, Vaughn went the opposite direction with the series. "hmm, last man on earth, one would think that it would be easy to get him laid. OK then, pretty much no sex just to be contrary." In many ways this pitch turns from your average male teenager's perfect fantasy into their worst nightmare. Perhaps it was the editorial direction at DC, which would be odd since even King Mob in the Invisibles got to have fairly graphic sex in that series.

More on this later, although the Legion of Super Girlfriends may want to make all of the DC males in the 1960's celibate or gay.

1 comment:

Leigh Walton said...

Yeah, Vaughan has said almost exactly that, in several interviews.