Growing up my curious dirty mind found a lot of fantastic erotic art to enjoy. My art has been heavily influenced by these artists, but a few in particular stand out….
Heavy Metal Magazine
The first erotic art I can remember seeing was in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine. I found my first issue when I peeked into the drawer my dad told me not to go into. I had read a lot of comics before (mostly superhero ones), but this was sooo different.
First, the art did not look like superhero comics. Whereas superhero comics looked the same from issue to issue and title to title, in the pages of Heavy Metal each story featured a different artist who brought a unique look. More importantly, the art was unlike anything I’d seen before, and this made me very excited to find more.
Second, the heroes were women. Sure, there were lots of male heroes too, but I distinctly remember seeing strong women swinging swords at each other. They weren’t just side characters, they drove the stories.
Third, it was sexy. Those sexy swordswomen really caught my eye. They didn’t look like the women in mainstream superhero comics, who usually had skinny bodies and large breasts. Instead, these women were curvy everywhere. Or if they were skinny, they also had proportionally smaller breasts, something I had never seen in American comics.
As I got older my dad let me read those comics (not knowing I had already snuck my fair share of peeks). He also let me watch the Heavy Metal Movie. The film had already been out for some time (it was released in 1981 – the year I was born), but I hadn’t been allowed to watch it till I was about 10 or 11 years old. I fell in love with it the first time I watched it. It was animated, had fantasy and sci-fi stories, and sexy women. I watched the film over and over. Like each issue of Heavy Metal magazine, the film was composed of a number of short stories. My favorite was the last animation, which featured the heroine Taarna. She was quiet (like me) she had an animal companion (which I had always wanted) and she was insanely badass (not me at all, but my secret fantasy). In the end, she sacrifices herself to save her world. She was everything I wanted in a hero and more.
As an adult I found out that Heavy Metal Magazine had been started in Europe by a small group of master comic artists ‘’Les humanoïdes associés’’ (we didn’t have the Internet to tell us things when I was a kid). I never dreamed that the fun & sexy comics I loved as a child were originally created by some of the most influential comic artists in the business, including Enki Bilal, Moebius and Milo Manara! My love for Heavy Metal Magazine continues to this day, and I still love reading old issues.
Heavy Metal is still moderately alive and well, you can get some old issues or art work on the official American Site
or the European creators
Once again, I stumbled on the pages of Playboy sneaking a peek through my dad’s dirty magazine collection. I always enjoyed the comics more than the pinups, not because I wasn’t attracted to the real women, but rather because there was something tantalizing about the cheeky humor of the cartoon characters.
Dean Yeagle had a cartoony, Disney-esque style that I absolutely loved. This wasn’t surprising, since his childhood dream had been to work at Disney’s studios. Of these three artists, he probably had the biggest influence on me, since I also loved Disney and would spend hours drawing Disney characters as a kid. His style was tantalizing to read, and was exactly the kind of art I wanted to make.
Doug Sneyd and Erich Sokol both have a soft, sensual style that is rich with humor and is never crass or campy. Although their work for Playboy is short, single panel jokes, each frame is filled with beautifully rendered art. There is so much happening in each panel, and such richness of detail, that there could be no mistaking these with black and white newspaper funnies.
Doug’s work in particular stands out to me. Looking at these comics again as an adult, I just love how the women aren’t the butt of the joke, but rather the ones pointing out the punchline to the audience. These are women who are enjoying themselves and having a good laugh.
I met Doug once at Montreal Comicon. He was and incredibly sweet and humble man. His wife is his manager, and she was also so wonderful to speak with. I love finding out one of my favorite artists is actually a great person in real life.
Unfortunately Erich Sokol has no offical site, but there is a great feature on him over at Animation Resources
What can I say about one of the most influential artists of my life!?! I have always loved fantasy art work, and beautifully illustrated women. Frazetta was a master of both.
Perhaps you don’t consider him an erotic artist, because his work wasn’t created as erotica per se. But I would debate anyone who argues that his work wasn’t made to tantalize the viewer. Frazetta was so incredibly skilled in all elements of drawing, from human and animal anatomy to perspective, light, shadow, color and composition.
He was truly a master and has created some of the most iconic fantasy art known today. His women specifically stand out to me because he understands the female form so well. They are beautiful and powerful, with bodies that match the strong roles they have been created portray.
My next artistic pilgrimage will definitely be a visit to the Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.