Sep 9, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 197: Sexhibition #2, November 1995 (Eros Comix Hentai Week Day 4)

One of my favourite series of adult comics if Phil Foglio's Xxxenophile, collected into 6 volumes and filled with science fiction and fantasy stories where people have unrestrained, consensual, completely fun sex. Far too few erotic comics embrace this aspect of play in sexuality. Today's selection, Sexhibition, comes close.

A young man enters a virtual reality dressed in the guise of a young woman, and begins a relationship with another woman who works for a virtual brothel in cyberspace. As I noted above, Foglio's Xxxenophile is primarily sci-fi and fantasy, and I think that it's easier for us to parse the fantasies we might harbour about sex in the fantastic. Like Super Taboo, this comic is broaching, albeit erotically, the very kinds of issues that our contemporary culture wrestles with with regard to gender fluidity and choice. The origins of the various tropes of Japanese erotic comics is a far longer and more complex history than I can go into here, not least because I actually have very little idea of where a lot of it came from. I'll refrain from speculating.

This kind of story, of crossing genders, is ably approached in hentai due to the androgynous character of the artwork. Look at the brunette on the cover. If we removed the ponytail at the back, and considered just her face, the character could be male or female, which really is the point as far as this comic goes. In some ways it acts as a warning on the dangers of anonymity online, but the revelation of the virtual girl's male identity, and the IRL treatment we see him suffer at school, also offers an optimistic glimpse of how one might find communities of like-minded individuals in the wilds of cyberspace.

If you're interested in a kind, optimistic, and fairly straight-forward (see what I did there?) erotic comic, you could certainly do worse than Sexhibition. See you tomorrow.

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