Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Drek Sketchbook Zero: The Earliest Erotic Explorations!

Anton Drek came of age in the late 1980s, first in sketchbooks carefully hidden from the light of day, then exploding on the burgeoning sex comix scene of the early 1990s. Below are several pages from the earliest efforts at imagining an erotic vocabulary, from circa 1987-1989.

The earliest extant sketches are done in a sketchy pen and ink style reminiscent of R. Crumb, Mœbius, and Milo Manara.

The earliest extant Drek sketches, done in a sketchy pen and ink style, belie the Underground Comix influence of Robert Crumb, as well as the French Les Humanoïdes Associés artist Mœbius (Jean Giraud) and Italian eroticist Milo Manara.

This early sheet is clearly swiped from photographic reference from a hardcore porn magazine.
Some studies are clearly derived from hardcore magazines of the period, and show couples engaged in a variety of explicit sexual acts, such as a woman in a garter belt sitting atop a cock, the same woman being penetrated from behind, and her visible discomfort at being subjected to anal penetration.

Raw material like this served as reference for Anton's erotic explorations.

Rollerball pen sketches in a Mœbius style, exploring erotic humiliation.
Already in these early explorations, Anton Drek seems to be exploring a number of motifs that will later become standard in his Underground Comix work: cumshots, fellatio, urination, frottage, and women either kneeling or otherwise enduring erotic humiliation beneath their male partners, who exalt in their subservience.

Male figures are depicted straddling the chests of female figures, selfishly masturbating on them, pissing and cumming on their chest and face, etc. Vaginal penetration is also explored, but the artist's interest in this theme seems often half-hearted at best. Tits, ass, and legs are also offered to the delight of the aroused male member.

Most male figures, like the females, are depicted nude, but occasionally a clothed figure is seen unzipping his fly to let loose a torrent of bodily fluid on a subservient female partner. And yet, female agency is never entirely absent from Anton's erotic imagination. Indeed, these fantasies seem to embrace the notion of female agency.

The nude female figure, long the repository of cultural desire in the west, here takes an active role in its own harmless desecration. After all, the piss and cum will wash off, and in the meantime the woman has indulged her partner in a boost to his ego seldom available in the modern world.

This feminine selflessness is enacted through kneeling, hands clasped (and sometimes visibly bound) behind the back, and the eyes closed. The face is always raised up expectantly toward the male member, sometimes wincing and even grimacing, but never shirking its role. This quasi-religious act of devotion parodies prayer and meditation; the emanations of the cock shower the blessings of heaven upon the earthly soul.

The rigid, upright cock, delivering its divine inspiration to the devoted, is followed by the drooping, spent member, still proudly commanding the attention of the divine supplicant, and ready to deliver a stinging slap if the recipient too strenuously objects to her fallen state. This ritual is performed again and again throughout these spontaneous sketches.

Men stand over women, Godlike, it is true, selfishly achieving their own satisfaction without regard for their female partners. The artist seems to be paying little attention to this erotic one-sidedness in his portrayal of loving relationships. Indeed, verbal abuse from the men is the lingua franca of these works; the men constantly remind their partners of how little their (female) pleasure is taken into account. This foul language is often reciprocated, as the women register their disdain for the treatment they are made to endure.

What remained was for these motifs to be set against a narrative backdrop that would lend the underlying ritual dramatic urgency. But that would have to wait for Anton's subsequent comic book work to unfold. Although the solid, American style that would later be associated with the mature work of Anton Drek has yet to solidify in these sketches, we see his willingness to experiment, and deal honestly and forthrightly with his own erotic urges and artistic aspirations.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Drek Jams: Anton's Underground Comix Street Cred!

Anton Drek's undeniable place in the subaltern history of American cartooning - that began with the 1960s Underground Comix movement, evolved into the 1970s Groundlevel Comics movement, spawned the 1980s Alternative Comics movement, and culminated in the 1990s Neo-Underground Comix movement - is documented in a number of important "Jam pages" and other documents, particularly key sketchbook collections chronicling the genre in the possession of Kika Kane.

The sensitive attention to body language and figurative art tradition is manifest in this Anton Drek panel from the early 1990s.

Two examples are shown here: a jam page by Underground Comix cartoonist and legend Denis Kitchen, Alternative Comics creators Larry Marder and Don Simpson, modernist superhero legend Bill Sienkiewicz, and last but not least, Anton Drek himself. "The circumstances of this particular collaboration are now forgotten," says Anton Drek expert Dr. Ted Edwards, PhD. "But it is clear that the cartoonists worked in close proximity, possibly at a California comic book convention some time in the early 1990s." Such artifacts are now highly sought by connoisseurs, and fetch high prices at auction.

Denis Kitchen, Anton Drek, Larry Marder, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Don Simpson are among the cartoonists jamming on the latter-day Underground Comix page.

 Another freewheeling sketchbook page by Anton Drek, appearing in a bound book along with numerous other stalwarts, shows the artist's mind at work, laboring mightily to earn the respect of the elder Underground Comix legends. (Certain pages with actual collaborations with some of those artist are being withheld, pending their explicit permission to reproduce the work.)

A sketchbook page by Anton Drek from the San Diego Comicon, drawn in the early 1990s, includes a sketch of the ex-wife of a noted Raw cartoonist, whom Anton Drek has described as "a cock-teasing cunt if there ever was one."

These sketchbook excursion, usually drawn in the wee hours of the morning in the storied Hotel San Diego (preferred hangout of the Underground and Alternative crowd) show an experimental side of Anton's work, usually under the influence of nicotine, other psychoactive substances, and sleep deprivation. The result is often a stylistic experimentation that is seldom, if ever, repeated.

Sketchbook page by Anton Drek, courtesy of Kika Kane.

More examples from the archive will follow as survivors can be located and permission obtained.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Anton's Inspiration: Progressive Appropriation!

"Would You Like Fries With That, Sir?" is one of Anton Drek's boldest, most startling images. The single-panel cartoon, dating from 1990 (and published in Anton's Drekbook #1, Eros Comix, April 1991), depicts an African-American waitress in a diner who finds herself on the menu for a panty-hungry customer. It is frank portrayal of multicultural lust, it is one of the most forward-looking images of racial relations in the annals (anals?) of Underground Comix.

"I'll have what he's having!" A diner enjoys the hearty pulled-down-panties special at the All-American eatery!
Original art recently auction by Heritage Auctions.
Always the historic appropriator, Anton was recalling an image he saw in his tender youth, glimpsed in a corner drugstore somewhere in suburban America. Published after a decade of turmoil, urban upheaval, and the struggle for Civil Rights, a copy of The Cock-Tail Maid by Clarence Symonette was among a small selection of adult goodies obviously not intended for minors. The image, along with the aura of the era, burned itself into the young Anton's mind, resulting in an original interpretation of this urgent motif. In Anton's update, the girl with the tray, the kneeling man with his hands on the girl's thighs, and the panties pulled down to mid-thigh, are all retained by the artist's imagination, but with a new social urgency and racial charge.

The original image, of an upscale cocktail waitress, stuck in young Anton' fevered brain for twenty years.
From the cover of The Cock-Tail Maid by Clarence Symonette (Liverpool Library Press 0162, Los Angeles, 1969)

At the same time, Anton rendered his version in more indigenous terms, replacing the decadent cocktail bar milieu with a more wholesome setting of an all-American roadside diner, swapping out the alcohol with an appetizing burger and cola. Always the progressive, Anton also recast the woman's ethnicity, making a political statement of inter-racial love that was decades ahead of its time! "Eating out a black woman's ass was something new for Underground Comix," recalls the Bohemian artist. "For R. Crumb, such a figure would serve simply as an object of exploitation for white male desire; whereas I was trying to give back to the community." And we're not just talking lip-service!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Anton's Archive: Relatively Recent Drek Sketches

The legendary Eros Comix of Anton Drek may well be an artifact of the twentieth century, but recent excavations into the extensive personal files of the artist indicate activity reaching well into the twenty-first century. Herewith, for scholarly purposes only, is a selection of unpublished sketches showing the range of erotic interests of Bohemia's most transgressive genius.

See also: Newly Discovered Unpublished Forbidden Frankenstein Art!