[NOTE: Some links in this post are not safe for work. And in fact, the post itself is pretty rough too. But I mean, really, what are you doing reading this thing at work? I drop the f-bomb like I think I'll win something for it]
The best thing about Colleen Coover is that I can identify with her. We exchanged a few emails a while back when I caught on her webpage that she worked at a comic book store and was constantly being asked if they sold bongs. That happens to me all the time. One time this guy came in asking for chemicals to clear out your system for a drug test, and when I told him we didn't sell those, he looked dead at me and said, "Really? No, really?" It was like I was just waiting until he said the password.
So there's that. And then there's the whole thing where we're both into chicks, which is where Small Favors [probably NSFW] comes in.
The world of porn comics is absolutely amazing, and I don't think you can really grasp it unless you work in a shop and you see it come in week after week. It's insane. It is simultaneously the most fascinating and revolting genre. And while most of it is bottomlessly awful (especially the furry books, which I'll one day write at length and with great bitterness about), every now and then you get something that's actually pretty entertaining.
Small Favors is one of those. It's hard to explain, but most of the time it doesn't even feel very pornographic, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. Colleen draws in this really simple, clean style that's more reminiscent of Mike Allred and Bruce Timm [Look out! There's some naked ladies!] than, say, Milo Manara, and the stories are generally pretty well written and clever, while at the same time being disarmingly bizarre most of the time.
Example time. There's one panel that's a Dragon Favorite. The main story finishes with a few pages left to go, so our principal characters, Annie and Nibbil (who's a manifestation of Annie's conscience with the Power of the Atom--I told you it was bizarre) to just go at it for like six pages. And there's a bit of dialogue between them that goes: "Oooh... that's my ass" "I know."
Never fails to make me laugh hysterically. There's even a backup story in the trade that's written in the style of an 1890s adventure novel, and THAT's genius. Even ISB favorite Warren Ellis likes it! AND she did a sketch for Tug at a con once, and she wasn't even a guest! She's school in the fall, man--full of class.
There are a couple more standouts in the porn comic industry that deserve mentioning. First, there's Lost Girls [NSFW], by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, and like Alan Moore's 1963, is so good it doesn't have an ending. The plot reads like bad fanfiction--it's the story of how Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland meet up at a hotel and have sex with each other--but it's incredible. Seriously, I've read it, and it's astounding how well done it is. It's the Watchmen of porn. Chad, Tug, Scott, and I were talking about it at comic book club one time and everyone else just looked at us like we had lobsters crawling out of our ears. It's supposed to finally be released in Hardcover from Top Shelf this summer, and if you like comics at all, pick it up. Just don't let the wife see it.
Then there's Alice in Sexland, a comic that takes everything wrong with Japanese porn comics--and brother, there's eight hours of shouting I could do--and puts it all in one book. It is jaw-dropping, this thing. But for some reason, it comes off as not being that bad, and there's a twist ending that's actually shocking and turns the book into a weird kind of commentary on the treatment of women in a repressive society. Catch me at the store sometime and I'll tell you all about it.
Now, for the warning, because what would this thing be if I didn't bother to complain about something? A while back, when a few of us decided to each jump on a different porn comic, John made the mistake of picking the innocuous-sounding Housewives at Play [note the absence of link]. Written and drawn by the alleged "Rebecca," who I'm sure is a 40 year old man with some profound psychological issues, Housewives contains what is unquestionably the worst, most wretched, vile and downright horrendous porn comic ever created. I mean, I've seen issues of Genus that were less offensive. I'm not even going to get into the plot on this one. That's how bad it is. If you really want to hear about it--and no matter what you think now, you don't--ask.
Remember, kids: If someone offers you Housewives at Play, they are not your friend.