The Best of Best American Erotica 2008, 15th Anniversary Edition: Shameless Self-Promotion, Round 2

Best_of_best_american_erotica_2008And I wanted to tell you about yet another book that I have writing in. I am very proud to have been included in the most recent edition of Best American Erotica: the special 15th anniversary Best of Best American Erotica 2008, collecting the standout authors and stories from the history of the series (along with a few previously unpublished gems).

This one is actually rather bittersweet, as this special volume of Best American Erotica is also going to be the last one in the series. This is a fucking tragedy for serious erotica readers and writers. As a reader, the world of erotic fiction is way too oversaturated right now, with far too many erotica anthologies on the market and, frankly, not enough good writing to fill them all up. Best American Erotica was always a treasure trove: I didn’t always love every single piece in every single volume, but the quality was always consistently high, even when it didn’t happen to be to my taste. And my tastes were often expanded by the stories in BAE, sometimes to my great surprise. I’m going to miss it sorely.

Computer_keyboardAnd as a writer, the world of erotic fiction is, alas, neither prestigious enough nor lucrative enough to justify the enormous amount of time and work I typically put into a porn story. But inclusion in Best American Erotica made it both. (Barely lucrative enough… but definitely prestigious enough.) Personally, I almost always wrote my porn fiction with a hopeful eye towards getting it into BAE — and I can’t be the only writer that’s been true for. Without BAE, it’s going to be awfully damn hard to convince myself that writing porn is worth it anymore. Again, I’m going to miss it sorely. Kudos to series editor Susie Bright for blazing the trail and keeping the light burning for so long.

Best Sex Writing 2008: Shameless Self-Promotion, Round 1

Note to family members and others who don’t want to know about my personal sex life: This post mentions my personal sex life. It doesn’t talk about it in any great detail, but it mentions aspects of my personal sex life that may be seriously too much information. If you don’t want to know about that stuff, please don’t read this post.

Best_sex_writing_2008I wanted to take a few moments to tell you about a new book that I have an essay in. The book is Best Sex Writing 2008, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: an anthology of non-fiction writing about sex. Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, the book has a really good assortment of smart and interesting writing, on an almost hilariously wide range of topics: from black male porn stars to online sex predators, from sex on wedding nights to sex in Iran. (The sex in Iran piece may be my favorite. Other than mine, of course. And maybe even including mine.)

My piece is titled “Buying Obedience: My Visit to a Pro Submissive.” And the title is also pretty self-explanatory: it’s a detailed descriptive essay about, well, my visit to a pro submissive: why I did it, how it worked, what we did, what it was like, whether I’d do it again. I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve written, and it’s on a topic that doesn’t get written about much: for all the reams and tomes that have been written about sex work in recent years, very little has been written from the customer’s point of view.

If that interests you, or if you just want a good, smart read about sex, I encourage you to check it out. Enjoy!

“Variety in itself is arousing”: My Podcast Interview with Radio Blowfish

Bec_2008Check out the podcast interview that just went up on Radio Blowfish! In the interview, we talk a lot about adult comics in general, porn in even more general, and my new book Best Erotic Comics 2008 in particular. Among other things, I talk about why I think comics are almost an ideal form for erotica, why I think variety is so important in porn collections, and how I went about finding the comics I chose for the anthology. It’s fun, it’s chatty, and it’s not too long (about 10 minutes or so — I forgot to time it when I was listening).

If any of this sounds interesting to you — or if you’ve been reading my blog and are curious about the dulcet sounds of my voice — you can visit the main Radio Blowfish site (my interview is Episode 73, at the top of the dial as of this writing), or you can go directly to the listen and download page.

FYI, some of the material is sexually explicit. Like, duh. So you may or may not want to listen to it at your job, depending on where you work. Enjoy!

Dirty Comics Re-enactment! New York “Best Erotic Comics” Event, Wed. March 5

Bec_new_york_event_flyer_2

It is killing me that I can’t be there for this event. So I’m hoping my New York friends and blog readers go for me, and tell me all about it.

It’s a Best Erotic Comics 2008 New York launch party and benefit for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund… in which performers will be re-enacting stories from the anthology.

Loki in heaven, I wish I could go.

New York’s funniest comedians will “act out” BEC stories by Colleen Coover (“A Bondage Tale”), Jessica Fink (“Cassie’s Bush”), Ellen Forney (“Your Handy Map to Erogenous Zones”), Justin Hall (“Birthday Fuck”), Ralf Konig (“Roy & Al: Sniffing Around”), Erica Erika Moen (“Silver Bullet”), and Dori Seda (“Fuck Story”). Listen, laugh, squirm, and get turned on as they treat you to a night of sex and comedy you won’t soon forget. Hosted by Rachael Parenta, the event will feature comedians Dan Allen, Sara Benincasa, Jon Friedman, Margot Leitman, Matt McCarthy, Giulia Rozzi and Bex Schwartz.

The event is at the Parkside Lounge, 317 E. Houston Street in NYC, Wednesday March 5 starting at 7:30 pm. Admission is a $10 suggested donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It’s for 21 and over only, with a 2 drink minimum. For more info, visit the CBLDF website.

If you’re in the New York area, please please please go… and please tell me how it went. I’m dying to know.

“Stories I wanted to tell”: An Interview with “Best Erotic Comics” Artist Trina Robbins

Bec_2008_2And welcome to the second in a series of interviews with the artists of Best Erotic Comics 2008. Today’s interview is with one of the book’s Hall of Fame artists, Trina Robbins. I’ve been an admirer of Trina for many years, both as a comic artist and as a historian. The author of The Great Women Cartoonists, The Great Women Superheroes, and From Girls to Grrlz : A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines, as well as many other titles, Trina has been a powerful influence on the comics scene since the underground days. I was thrilled to have her work in Best Erotic Comics 2008, and even more thrilled to interview her here in my blog.

BTW, Trina will be one of the panelists at tonight’s Best Erotic Comics 2008 launch party, Thursday 2/28 at 7pm at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission Street in San Francisco. Come by and say howdy!

Greta: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Tell me about your piece. What inspired it, what were you trying to accomplish with it, etc.? I know why I like your piece and why I included it in the anthology — but what do you think makes it stand out?

PetsTrina: Nothing heavy, really, just: what if the tables were turned and WE were the pets? Not even really an animal rights story, because I certainly am not opposed to neutering pets — at least until someone invents tiny kitty kondoms. Our two cats are neutered — they’re a male and female — and sometimes the poor dears get an inkling of an idea about what they’re supposed to do, and they assume position, the male biting the neck of the female, but then they can’t remember what comes next and they just kind of stand there. It’s funny in a pathetic way. My partner calls it the love that can’t remember its name.

And tell me a little about the history of this piece. You originally drew it in 1978, but it’s being published for the first time here. Can you tell me the story about that?

Yeah, back in ’78 I had done some illustration for this men’s mag, and I got along nicely with the editor. I sent him a sketch for the comic and he liked it and gave me the go-ahead, but by the time I finished the piece, he’d been fired and the new editor wanted nothing to do with anyone the old editor had worked with. So it has sat in my file cabinet till I heard from you.

Well, I’m so glad I could help it to see the light of day! Since you bring up men’s magazine, I wanted to ask: Do you see erotic comics as a separate genre from mainstream comics? Or do you see your erotic work as being an integral part of the comics world?

Wet_satin_2Well, they obviously ain’t mainstream. But comics are comics (or comix) and there are many different kinds and they’re all valid.

And when you’re creating sex comics, is it important to you that they be arousing to the audience? Or are you focused entirely on other artistic goals?

I’ve done so few sex comics! I’ve certainly never done any with arousal of my readers in mind — they’ve always simply been stories I wanted to tell.

Since you have done non-erotic comics as well as erotic ones, I’m curious: How has your adult work affected how your non-adult work is received? Has it made it harder to get your non-erotic work published or recognized? Easier? Or has it had no effect at all?

Far more non-erotic than erotic! But I don’t think one ever affected the other.

You’ve been doing comics — both adult and non-adult — for a long time, since the early days of the underground comics era. How do you think adult comics have changed since then? And how have those changes affected your own work over the years?

LustI’m not an enormous readers of erotic comics, but the impression I get is that first of all, there are genuine women drawing erotic comics now, so you’ve got a different viewpoint than you had 35 years ago, and also of the ones done by men, I think far less of them are the kind I’ve always objected to — the kind where rape and torture of women is portrayed as something cool and/or amusing. I’m sure you know that there are people who have accused me of being a censor simply because I have objected to comics that portray rape as funny. Those people don’t quite get it that objecting to something is not the same as censoring it.

On that topic — not the topic of censorship, but the topic of the changing world of adult comics: Do you think the increasing acceptance of comics as a serious art/ literary form has affected sex comics? Has it made it easier for adult comic artists to work? Or are artists less willing to do sex comics for fear of not being taken seriously… whereas 30 years ago they didn’t care because they weren’t getting any respect anyway?

Rent_girlCertainly there are some excellent graphic novels out now that deal with sex and that are widely respected. Michelle Tea’s Rent Girl comes to mind, as well as Phoebe Gloeckner’s books. And those books are definitely taken seriously.

Do you find that working on adult comics is an erotic experience? Or when you’re doing the drawing, are you just focused on the craft of your work rather than the eroticism of the scene you’re creating?

As I said before, I’m focused on telling a story. I find the idea of people as pets being allowed to mate before being neutered ironic rather than erotic!

And finally — what are you working on now?

Gogirl_coverI’ve been writing educational graphic novels for kids and they are definitely not erotic! They’re meant for the classroom, as teachers and librarians have become aware that kids are reading less, but that kids WILL read graphic novels. Some of them came out very well, thanks to a bunch of good artists: the stories of Hedy Lamarr, drawn by Cynthia Martin; Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to get her pilot’s license, drawn by Ken Steacy;and Florence Nightingale, drawn by Anne Timmons, with whom I also team up for our ongoing graphic novel series, GoGirl! I just finished adapting a Ray Bradbury story into graphic novel form for Scholastic, and this Spring Anne Timmons and I will be doing a graphic novel adaptation of Little Women — like I said, definitely not erotic!

Web_picRetired cartoonist Trina Robbins has been writing books and comics for over thirty years. Aside from writing about women cartoonists, she has written books about dark goddesses, Irish women, and women who kill.

Previous posts in this series:
“That’s the fun of it”: An Interview with “Best Erotic Comics” Artist Justin Hall

“Things to be angry about”: Google Poetry

Computer_keyboardSaw this at An Apostate’s Chapel, and I loved it, so I’m doing my own version. The concept: Compose a poem, a more or less coherent one, using search terms that people used to arrive at your blog. It’s an entertainingly eerie exercise, and while I am generally a suck poet, I think that mine freakishly captures the essence, both of my blog and of my current mental and emotional state.

I did mine as a set of quasi-haikus. And yes, the title is also a search term that was used to find my blog. (No images for this one, btw; I want the images of the poem to speak for themselves, or some such poetry blather.) Enjoy — and if you’re inspired to do your own, please feel free to post the link in the comments!

things to be angry about
by Greta Christina

prayer of looking after someone
pray for someone with terminal illness
now with 40% more design

galileo nonconformist
letters of comfort in terminal sickness
slut

weird photos of naked girls
let’s see some women with nice asses that like sex
girls fuck with fruits

Harry potter porn for adults
flintstones having sex
simpsons make sex look like church

marriage no sex
sex fun
deliberately fucking with me weird shit coincidence

has barack obama voted for same sex marriage
Why does Barack Obama feel wrong to me?
if it’s different it’s wrong

perfect porn
spanking her on her bare bottom
he spanked her and then started to lick her pussy

blue eyed cats
55th Academy Awards Ceremony
keep fresh bread fresh

attempting Reason
strange and terrible earthly coincidences
you have the right to your own truth

agnostic grace
atheist rant
i just became an atheist

list of reasons why parents argue with their children
children thinking thoughts of death
the meaning of death

i have weird thoughts about death
fear of being dead forever
FEAR OF DEATH

“That’s the fun of it”: An Interview with “Best Erotic Comics” Artist Justin Hall

Bec_2008_2I’m very proud and happy to present the first in a series of interviews with the artists of Best Erotic Comics 2008. One of the things I’m most proud of with this book is the wide variety of first-rate comic artists I was able to showcase, and I was thrilled to have the chance to talk with some of them directly and find out more about how they work, how they approach comics in general and dirty comics in particular.

Today’s interview is with Justin Hall, best known for his True Travel Tales comic series, and known to Best Erotic Comics readers as the artist of the sweet, kinky, hilarious, and seriously dirty “Birthday Fuck.” Justin and I talked about the comics industry, the sex industry, the challenge of telling true stories, the balance of arousal and artistry in erotica, and lots more.

Please note: Some of the content of this interview, and some of the images illustrating it, are not appropriate for minors. If you’re under 18, please do not continue reading.

[Read more…]

“Best Erotic Comics 2008″ — A Couple of Cool Reviews

Bec_2008_2My new book, Best Erotic Comics 2008, has gotten a couple of nifty reviews already, and I thought y’all might like to see them.

The excellent and prolific sex writer, editor, and blogger, Rachel Kramer Bussel (most recently editor of Best Sex Writing 2008), has written a very glowing and nicely thorough review of the book on Amazon. She gave it five stars, and says, among other things:

This first in the annual series shows comics that aren’t just designed to turn you on (though some of them surely will), but also tell humorous, honest stories about a range of sexualities, using various artistic styles that show readers just how many ways one can interpret sex.

And Audacia Ray (blogger and author of Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing in on Internet Sexploration) has created a very nice video review of the book. Embedding the video doesn’t seem like an option, but you can watch it on Audacia’s Live Girl Review blog.

You can buy Best Erotic Comics 2008 at Last Gasp (the publisher), and at many locations and online stores, including Powell’s and Amazon. Many thanks to Rachel and Audacia for the kinds words. So glad you liked the book!

Best Erotic Comics 2008 Is Here!

Bec_2008

It’s here at last! Best Erotic Comics 2008 has arrived at the Last Gasp warehouse. It’s available for sale at Last Gasp, and is already available at many locations and online stores, including Powell’s and Amazon.

A literary and artistic exploration of human sexuality — and a fun dirty book, featuring today’s smartest, raunchiest, funniest, filthiest, most beautiful, and most arousing adult comics! Best Erotic Comics 2008 smashes the divide between literary/art comics and adult comics by including both the hottest work from the literary/art comics world — and the highest-quality work from the adult comics world. Artists include Daniel Clowes, Phoebe Gloeckner, Gilbert Hernandez, Michael Manning, Toshio Saeki, Colleen Coover, Ellen Forney, and many others. The wide variety includes work that’s kinky and vanilla, sweet and perverse, and straight, lesbian, and gay. Features recent comics, a handful of vintage Hall of Fame gems — and some works never published before! 200 pages. Color and b&w.

Work by: Belasco, Marzia Borino & Mauro Balloni, Susannah Breslin, Katie Carmen, Cephalopod Products, Daniel Clowes, Vince Coleman, Colleen Coover, John Cuneo, Dave Davenport, El Bute, Jessica Fink, Ellen Forney, Phoebe Gloeckner, Daphne Gottlieb and Diane DiMassa, Justin Hall, Gilbert Hernandez, Molly Kiely, Ralf Konig, Dale Lazarov & Steve MacIsaac, Michael Manning, Erika Moen, Quinn, Sandez Rey, Trina Robbins, Toshio Saeki, and Dori Seda. Cover art by Ellen Forney.

I’m immensely proud of this book, and am delighted with how it turned out. I think I really did do what I set out to accomplish: make an adult comics collection that’s both arty and dirty, with comics that will make you think, make you grin, and make you want to whack off. And everyone who’s seen the book has commented on its tremendous variety: not just a variety of sexual preferences and practices, but a variety of moods and stories and artistic styles.

Bec_2008_2I’ll be blogging about this book a lot in the coming weeks, with artist interviews and links to reviews. But for right now, I just wanted to let y’all know: It’s here.

Faith, Science, and Advertising: An Ethical Quandary

I had this odd ethical quandary the other day, and I wanted to run it by y’all and ask what you think about my decision. I had to make a decision somewhat quickly, so it’s actually already been made — but it’s a question that’s likely to come up again, and it’s therefore not just a moot point.

Advertising_now1The situation: As you may have noticed, I have ads on my blog. It’s not a huge source of income, but it’s a decent trickle, and as my blog gets more widely read, there’s a good chance that the trickle will increase to a somewhat larger trickle. I don’t have to accept every ad that gets submitted to me, and I have rejected ads in the past (most memorably an ad from some multi-level marketing firm that was obviously Scam City).

UccbluelogoSo an ad was submitted to me the other day… from the United Church of Christ.

Not advertising a particular church program; not advertising an educational series or a charitable fund. Just advertising themselves. The church, qua church.

Specifically, advertising themselves as a science-friendly church.

The tag line of the ad was: “Science and faith are not mutually exclusive.”

(You can see more about the ad campaign here.)

And I had a very hard time deciding whether to accept it.

How_to_succeed_in_advertisingUntil now, my policy has been to accept any and all ads unless I found their content flatly objectionable. (Or dishonest, like the multi-level scam ad. Which I guess is just another version of objectionable.) I don’t think a publication has to agree with or endorse every ad that they publish, and in the same way that I like having a variety of dissenting opinions in my comments, I’m happy to have a variety of dissenting opinions in my ads. I’ve even had ads with religious content before — religious content that I didn’t really agree with.

OnasettingwebvAnd as churches go, the UCC isn’t a bad one. They’re not the Unitarians or the Quakers, but as far as I can tell they’re on the progressive side, pretty gay-positive and all that. I like that they’re taking on the fundies on the science question; I don’t think they’d put it into those words, but I think it’s clear that that’s what they’re doing. And I was actually pretty impressed that they wanted to advertise on an atheist blog. (Especially this atheist blog. In fact, part of me really wanted to take the ad, just to have the United Church of Christ ad right under the Blowfish ad with the buttplug.)

But ultimately, I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t do it because the fundamental thrust of their ad campaign is one that I totally, completely disagree with.

I think science and faith are mutually exclusive.

ManusingmicroscopeNow, before you jump down my throat: I think religious believers can be scientists, and good ones. The evidence for that is pretty obvious. Most scientists throughout history have been religious believers, and many scientists today are as well. I’m not saying that having religious faith means you can’t be a scientist.

Defending_your_faithI’m saying that — as approaches to life, as approaches to understanding reality and engaging with the world — faith and science are radically different. Science is an approach to life and learning that is willing to question anything, give up any belief or opinion, if a preponderance of evidence contradicts it. Faith is an approach to life and learning that starts with an assumption that it isn’t willing to discard. The more progressive faiths are willing to bend and change to adjust to reality; but the basic assumption — the existence of God and the soul — can’t be relinquished if you’re going to maintain the faith. It’s an approach to life based on an assumption that’s not only unproven, but unprovable. And it’s an approach to life that says it’s okay to make this big, unrelinquishable assumption about the nature of reality based entirely on tradition, authority, and personal intuition.

(That’s an oversimplification — of both faith and science — but for the purposes of this post, it’ll have to do.)

DarwinAnd if you’re a scientist with religious faith, it’s very likely that, at some point, your faith and your science are going to collide. And when/if it does, you’re going to have to make a choice. You’re going to have to decide which approach you value more.

(The big conflict in the 20th century was obviously evolution, colliding with the idea of life being designed. In the 21st century, I think the big conflict may be neuroscience, colliding with the idea of the soul.)

That’s what I mean by faith and science being mutually exclusive. I think faith and science are significantly different approaches to life, representing significantly different values. They can both be accommodated up to a point — but when that point is reached, one has to be chosen, and the the other has to be set aside.

Now, I don’t actually feel like debating that point right now. I’m currently working on a larger, more comprehensive piece about faith and rationality where I go into this idea in more detail, and I’d like to hold off on debating this point until I do that. (If you really feel driven to argue in the comments, knock yourself out, but I’m letting you know now that I’m probably not going to get into it.)

Online_journalism_ethicsMy question is this: Given that I do disagree so diametrically with the basic message of the ad, what should I have done?

Should I have accepted it — and should I accept other ads like it — on the theory that this blog is a forum for lively but respectful debate about religion, and this ad would have been just one more part of that?

Or should I have rejected it — and other ads like it — on the theory that I shouldn’t accept ads that are the 100% opposite of my most passionately held beliefs?

HeartI’ll admit: A fair part of my decision was just emotional. I did not want that ad on my blog. I think it’s clear that. as a blogger, I don’t necessarily endorse every comment that’s made on it. I think that point is rather less clear when it comes to ads. I didn’t want anyone coming to my blog and thinking that I endorsed this UCC ad, in any way, shape or form.

And even more emotionally than that: I just didn’t want it. Nothing against the United Church of Christ (well, apart from the fact that they’re perpetuating a belief that I think is mistaken and ultimately harmful), but I did not want that ad on my blog. It made me feel icky.

No_heartsvgBut icky feelings aren’t a very good basis for making an ethical decision. If I’m going to keep accepting ads, this kind of question is going to come up again. And I think I need to have a consistent, coherent policy about which ads to accept and which ads to reject. Something more coherent than, “No ads that make me feel icky.” Based on my experience with this ad, I’m leaning towards, “Ads are okay unless they’re flatly objectionable… or their content is in complete opposition to my own beliefs and values, even if it’s not actually offensive.” But I’m still developing it, and would like to hear what y’all have to say about it.

Money1(Oh, and P.S.: In case you’re wondering, the money was not that big an issue. It would have been nice, of course — especially since they wanted to run the ad for a whole month — but I just don’t charge enough for my ads for money to be a make-or-break factor in deciding whether to accept one. Not yet, anyway.)