Sex depicted tastefully in comics/animation/etc.?
December 27, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

What are some comics, mangas, animations, animes, and other illustrated works, from any part of the world, that depict regular sex and sexual behavior without fetishizing it?

I'm particularly interested in works that fully depict sex and nudity, but not in a tasteless, voyeuristic manner. Furthermore, I'm just as interested in the context, buildup, etc. as much as the actual act itself.

In other words, I'm interested in works that treat sex as part of everyday life, and aren't afraid to show it. Any suggestions?

(No tentacle monsters, please, unless they're particularly well-characterized.)
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Watchmen, for one.
posted by griphus at 11:45 AM on December 27, 2010

Love and Rockets.
posted by nomadicink at 11:50 AM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Comfort's "Joy of Sex"
posted by browse at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2010

Fun Home.
posted by gerryblog at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:45 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dykes to Watch Out For doesn't have all that much sex but there is some and it's plain-old-sex sex (with ladies). No tentacles.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:55 PM on December 27, 2010

Craig Thompson's Blankets.
posted by box at 12:57 PM on December 27, 2010

Jeffrey Brown's autobiographical graphic novels have occasional casual, non-sensational sex scenes.
posted by Nomyte at 1:18 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Adrian Tomine's would probably be worth looking into. I can't think of a particular occurance of sex (it's been awhile), but his Optic Nerve series deals heavily with relationships in a very grounded kind of way.
posted by faeuboulanger at 1:29 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Arial Schrag's Potential has frank, eerily relatable, emotionally honest autobiographical portrayals of [queer] teen sexuality. It's impressively good given that she wrote it while still in high school. (She wrote comics about each of her 4 years of high school, but I'd start with that one.)

Phoebe Gloeckner also does honest and insightful depictions of teen female sexuality (and is an incredibly talented illustrator), but she mostly deals with disturbing/unhealthy experiences, which may or may not fit with what you're asking for.
posted by introcosm at 1:48 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

The manga series Nana has sex as a regular and unspectacular part of the series, but it does not tend to be particularly explicit.
posted by that girl at 2:05 PM on December 27, 2010

Ridiculously, the anime Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. The show's insane but it doesn't treat sex as if it's weird or a fetish.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 2:42 PM on December 27, 2010

Before I mention a few names, a clarification: it sounds like you're looking for depictions of sex that aren't specifically erotica, i.e. meant to get you off, not just non-fetishistic or tasteless. I'd count Colleen Coover's Small Favors as an example of such, although there's a bit of a fantasy element to it.

Anyway. Since most of your better cartoonists (many of which have already been named in this thread) deal with sexuality in one way or another, it's almost easier to name the ones that haven't--Jim Woodring, for example, although he's included brief nudity in some of his earlier work, and has illustrated part of a story for Dennis Eichhorn's Real Smut series, hasn't really done that much that involved sex. I'll list a few better-known cartoonists off the top of my head, with some of their works that include sex of one sort or another.

Peter Bagge became well-known for his series Hate, which was mostly played for laughs, although not in an obviously sitcommy-one-liner kind of way. Not particularly romantic view of human relationships, including the characters' sex lives.

Chester Brown, whose Yummy Fur started as an incredibly bizarre surrealist story called "Ed the Happy Clown" (it is one of the weirdest things that I've ever laid eyes on that actually had a narrative, sort of, on a level with David Cronenberg's movie adaptation of Burroughs' Naked Lunch), with suitably bizarre sex scenes, but when that story finished, Brown went into autobiography; after a few stories set in his adulthood, he went back to his adolescence with The Playboy and I Never Liked You, which show him dealing with puberty and the onset of his mother's schizophrenia. (Note: I don't remember if these actually show people having sex with each other, if that's what you're specifically looking for; you may have better luck with Brown's upcoming book (scheduled to be published this spring), Paying For It, which is subtitled "a comic-strip memoir about being a john".

Dan Clowes has done several graphic novels and stories which feature sexuality in one form or another, including Ghost World and David Boring. Pretty downbeat, for the most part.

Joe Matt is known mostly for his later work, which shows him as a loner who furiously masturbates to porn and is still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, but his earlier work (collected as Peepshow) are considerably cheerier (he and his girlfriend are still together, although in some of the strips you can see the roots of their eventual break-up) and have a unique format: most of them are one-page strips with dozens of postage-stamp-sized panels; that may sound like an exasperating format, but Matt makes it work.

David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp is not quite like anything else he's done, and not quite like anything that anyone else has done.

Dori Seda, in no small part because I haven't included any female cartoonists yet (those that I would have named, already have been), and in part because she died before she could become known as one of the great female underground cartoonists. Dori Stories collects almost all of her work in every medium; if you ever get your hands on a copy, remember, she never actually had sex with her dog, she just liked to joke about it. A lot. There are quite a few female cartoonists whose work I enjoy, but who I'm not sure would fit into this category (Erika Moen, for example).

Chris Ware, who followed up his award-winning Jimmy Corrigan graphic novel with a number of installments of his "Acme Novelty Library" series featuring an interlocking cast of characters (except for #18, which followed an unnamed female protagonist/narrator). A bit more frank about sex than his previous work.

Well, I could go on... I may add others later. I like comics. (Couldn't you tell?)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:09 PM on December 27, 2010

OP, it actually sounds to me as though you are asking for erotica ("fully depict sex and nudity," "buildup, etc."). The one that leaps to mind is Omaha the Cat Dancer by Reed Waller and Kate Worley. All characters are depicted as animals, but one quickly sees that they're really human beings. (I know the animal thing sounds like it's toeing the line of "furry" and therefore "fetish", but that's not where it goes at all.) I think it really might meet your parameters. It definitely treats sex as part of everyday life, and it's definitely not afraid to show it.
posted by tomboko at 9:15 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Webcomic called Anders ♥ Maria.
posted by Neofelis at 10:28 PM on December 27, 2010

Bruno fits this description:
posted by Skwirl at 6:47 AM on December 28, 2010

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