Erika Moen Draws Squishy, Satisfying Sex Comics [Sex]
The state of American sex education would not be so grim if there was more Erika Moen in the world. Now that Moen has finished Bucko, her webcomic collaboration with Jeff Parker, she’s focusing her attention on her newest project, an educational graphic novel about sex aimed at teenagers. It can be difficult to talk about sex in a balanced way when so much of the media we see to inform or titillate, and things like intimacy and fun get left out of the occasion. From her autobio comic DAR to GirlF*ck, her short guide to lady-on-lady loving, and a variety of other sex ed comics, Moen has projected a sexuality that’s both safe and reflective, while still remembering why people have sex in the first place.
Assume that any and all links are at least slightly NSFW, and suggestive images follow.
The first of Moen’s comics I ever came across was not about sex, but about love. I Like Girls is a missive to Moen’s mother about Moen’s first girlfriend. I Like Girls is one of Moen’s many discussions on the problem of labeling her own sexuality (a Gordian knot she’s more recently sliced to bits). But it’s primarily a comic about loving someone, and wanting to just be happy in that love. It was clear to me that this was a person who, despite the complexities of family and identity, focused on the happiness in the moment, on falling so completely for another person.
I may have developed a bit of a crush.
Sex in Moen’s world is safe. In GirlF*ck, she advocates latex gloves and dental dams. But sex is also messy and gross and filled with funny and painful missteps, and Moen catalogues those throughout her comics. In her diary comic DAR, she outlines the worst things she’s done to her partners during sex (which involves farting), shares her personal story on the perils of buttsex, even relates the one time that her husband Matt accidentally tasted his own spunk. And that is all part of what makes sex so wonderful; it’s not just pretty people posing for the camera. Sex can be as natural and gross as anything we do with our bodies, and all those embarrassing and painful moments just brings us closer to our partners. It’s just a good thing for us that Matt is such a good sport about having his intimate moments shared with the entire Internet.
GirlF*ck, as well as Silver Bullet and the DAR vibrator series, give us hints of what a full-blown (no pun intended) Moen sex education comic will look like. Moen has spent much of her sexual life learning to please women — herself included — and helping the rest of us reap the benefit of her experience. Moen is like the queer big sister of webcomics, sharing her sexual wisdom in a frank but funny way. I can only imagine that the sometimes anxious subject of sex will be at least partially diffused when teens see Moen pushing a vibrator against her nose.
There’s also a nice inclusiveness in Moen’s comics. There’s no pushiness, no sense that you’re not doing your duty as a red-blooded member of the human race if you’re not constantly sticking your fingers in someone’s else nether bits. In Moen’s comics, sex with boys is normal; sex with girls is normal; masturbation is awesome, but having trouble reaching orgasm is nothing to be ashamed about (nor is it something beyond fixing). Moen isn’t there to judge. She’s just there to share the wet, squishy joys that are out there.
But just because Moen is turning her attention to teen sexuality doesn’t mean we won’t see plenty of adult-oriented smut from her. Even with DAR over, Moen has plenty of sexy art to share with the world. There is her irreverent “Saints of Sex Toys” series, the orgiastic poster she co-created with Lucy Knisley, and her goofy paintings of octopus orgies and punny cock fights. And Spike Trotman’s pornographic Smut Peddler anthology will feature a story written by Leia Weathington and drawn by Moen.