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!

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Loving the Alien": Anton's First Fledgling Filth!

In the late 1980s, a modestly successful comic book artist found himself moving around the country, first from his native Detroit area to rural central Wisconsin for a year, then to Van Nuys, California just north of Los Angeles for a few months, finally settling back east, in a post-industrial city, where he has lived ever since. In the four lonely months he spent in Van Nuys, Anton Drek was born.

"California was expensive, hostile to transplants, and outright lonely," the artist recalls. "It was in some ways the most miserable four months of my life. Explicit pornographic magazines at the corner convenience store became practically my entire social life." The cartoonist already had a mature readers comic book series on his drawing board, one that he would eventually take into the explicitly hardcore realm for a final, adults-only one-shot. "But in my sketchbook, I still felt the need, I wanted to make up for some of the things missing from my life; hence, Anton Drek was born."

Page 2 of "Loving the Alien," from Anton's Drekbook #1 (Eros Comix, March 1991). This was the page that launched Anton Drek's international Underground Comix career.

The first fledgling effort was a single page featuring a young, fairhaired woman fellating a phallic-looking alien. "That single page was a significant breakthrough for me," the artist recalls. "It was my first explicit depiction of exactly what I wanted sex to be: a woman on her knees, offering unconditional love. There was tremendous energy in just being honest to myself about my fantasies. And on the page, they somehow didn't feel so dark and shameful as I might have feared."

The spread of page 1 and 2 of "Loving the Alien," as they appeared in the American edition. The story would be translated into Spanish less than six months later, in Kiss Comix #1 (October 1991).

This single page grew into a four-page story entitled "Loving the Alien" that ultimately appeared in Anton's Drekbook #1 (March 1991). "Wendy Whitebread #1 appeared a year earlier, quickly followed by Forbidden Frankenstein #1 and #2," the artist recalls. "But that single page kicked around for quite a long time before I rounded it off into something like a story."

The page 2-3 spread of the story; motifs such as tit-fucking, cumshots, and anal intercourse are some of the many Drekian tropes introduced in this synoptic piece.

As discussed elsewhere, the story is little more than a sketchy framework upon which the artist hung nearly all of his erotic obsessions, including blowjobs, handjobs, anal sex, titfucking, cumshots, and the recurring motif of a woman kneeling before a dangling cock. "The cock has to be limp, hanging downward at a certain angle, not at an upward trajectory," explains the artist. "And the woman has to be just below up, gazing up at it, or bowing her head, or wincing from having just been sprayed with stringy gobs of sperm. I'm not sure I can exactly put into words why I find this motif so compelling; but it is even more exciting to me than a fully erect cock, standing proudly over a submissive, adoring female."

"When I drew that first loving blowjob," the artist recalls, "I knew I was onto something new in Underground Comix." Panels from the English and Spanish editions.

The first depictions of fellatio by the artist are still among the most erotically charged of his career. (The English and Spanish versions are presented side-by-side.)

Publishers of the Spanish-language anthology Kiss Comix thought so much of "Loving the Alien" that they ran the four-page story in their inaugural issue (October 1991), just half a year following its American release in Anton's Drekbook. "They must have figured it was a concise way to introduce Anton Drek to a whole new European audience," the artist offers, "in an overcrowded issue that include the likes of Frank Frazetta, Beto Hernandez, Hunt Emerson, Bill Ward, and Robert Crumb."

A buxom, fairhaired woman kneels before a dangling cock. "Although I usually don't care for women that chesty, I did marry a woman who looked a lot like her."

The dangling cock, which the artist describes as "a compelling, powerful motif in my work; women bowing before it is more exciting to me than a fully-erect, stiff, at-attention prick."

Issues #2 and #3 offered the first half of Wendy Whitebread #1, and Kiss Comix endured for 239 issues, ending only in 2011. "I guess 'Loving the Alien' was both a potent introduction to Anton," says the artist, "and it helped kick off the longest-running erotic comics anthology in history."

No Anton Drek story would be complete without an agonizing anal sex scene, and "Loving the Alien" is considered synoptic in the oeuvre on Anton Drek for its catalog of erotic motifs.

For more on the Spanish translation of "Loving the Alien," and an in-depth, scholarly analysis of the numerous erotic motifs that would become emblematic of the artist, visit here.

More on the role of female sodomy as motif and metaphor in the work of Anton Drek here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Remember to Jiggle the Handle: Wendy's Famous Head-Flushing Scene Revisited!

Wendy Whitebread, Undercover Slut #1 (Eros Comix, November 1990) was a groundbreaking event in the history of Underground Comix, not in the least for its frank portrayal of gender relations following the Andrea Dworkin-led feminist backlash against hardcore pornography that preoccupied the 1980s. "I drew this comic book in part as a statement of my own sexuality," recalls the artist, "since I was seeing everyone's sexuality but mine being validated throughout the culture."

Wendy puts the handcuffs on herself and savors a loving cock being rubbed all over her upper body.

"This sexuality, which included most notably the motif of ejaculating on a woman's face as both an act of revenge and an expression of love, was a courageous statement from a mainstream American comic book artist at the time," notes Anton Drek scholar and biographer D.S. Edwards. "In Wendy and subsequent works, we see an artist struggling to come to terms his own masculine energies, impulses, and role in society, in regard to women's equality."

The protagonist of the narrative, an "undercover slut" who masters the craft of prostitution in order to bring male sexual predators to justice, is a confident, wholesome "girl next door" whose name, Wendy Whitebread, embodies purity, wholesomeness, and blandness. Her journey from clean-cut embodiment of American womanhood to humiliated whore degraded by men whom she is obligated to bust by flashing the badge she wears on her crotch was both a satire and a serious statement on American sexuality at the turn of the millennium.

Wendy licks the full length of the shaft, deep-throating and receiving without qualm an engulfing cum facial, which is smeared into her neck and throat area.

"The story unfolds from Wendy's perspective," notes Edwards. "We are always inside Wendy's head while she services her male johns; it is her interior monologue and point of view that informs the images." Except for brief interludes with Officer Paul Pureheart, a conflicted and hypocritical colleague of Wendy's (who, as a male, is not required to undergo comparable sexual humiliations in his police work), the story "forces the reader to take the point of view of the 'undercover slut,' and therefore, adopt the point of view of the abused, debased, degraded, and exploit woman in American society."

This acknowledgement of the feminist critique of male sexuality as expressed by hardcore pornography is one of the many brilliant moves made by the artist in this staunchly pornographic work. "I expect my audience to be aroused by the images," the artist concedes, "to masturbate, and then consider the ideas that he or she has just masturbated to." This move complicates Wendy Whitebread #1, and indeed made the comic book a slippery target for feminist critics in the 1990s and since.

Wendy is cockslapped, pissed on, and has her head submerged into an overflowing toilet bowl before a moment's respite.

The backlash that followed the backlash entailed still another backlash. As Edwards states, "Dworkin was in may ways a tragic figure, as we later learned. Abused as a child, a teenager who sucked off older men for subway fare into New York City, subjected to cruelties such as a husband who masturbated on her face in her sleep, it's no wonder she developed eating disorders and an avid anti-male hatred that found voice in her acerbic cultural criticism. Being brilliant, she also offered a critique that in many ways could only be answered by a an equally brilliant pornographer, who in my expert opinion more than meets her intellectual match. I am speaking, of course, of Monsieur Anton Drek."

Wendy is cuffed to the toilet and sodomized by a greasy cock. She thinks, "Christ! He's fucking me up the ass! But at least I'll still be a virgin!" She then cries out, "You bastard! Shit! God damn you to hell, you fucking son of a bitch!" However, she never utters the word no, nor does she instruct her lover to stop. "The 'anal crucifixion' of Wendy Whitebread, bent over a seedy hotel room toilet, posits the protagonist as a willing Messiah for a born-again, post-feminist dispensation of 1990s pornography," claims Drek expert D.S. Edwards.

The most difficult aspect of Wendy #1 may well be its most notorious sequence. It it, the protagonist, Wendy Whitebread, finally confronts her adversary, the elusive Mr. Misogyny in a seedy hotel room for what appears will be a routine interaction between a hooker and a john. Except, in this case, Wendy must not reveal her g-string police badge, and so must careful remove her tight short-shorts without removing her cotton panties along with them. Recognizing her partner's fragile male ego, she slips on the handcuffs to herself with her hands behind her back, a complete and voluntary submission to whatever predations are to follow.

What follows, in fact, is a tender scene as her face is lovingly stroked with cock; this proves so pleasurable, Wendy imagines her entire upper body is being caressed by multiple cocks, made visible by the artist. Wendy licks the entire length of his shaft (explicit ball-licking will not be explored until later Drek work), and she adeptly "deep-throats" the entire cock (although this act seems to push her to her limits, as it causes her to perspire). She takes a stunning facial cumshot with passive resignation if not profound appreciation (she offers, "Thank you, God!" aggrandizing the cock as the source of all creation). Wendy then turns over and her lover straddles her, to masturbate yet again on her inviting small breasts, neck, and face.

The cock smears the sperm all over her neck; after the page turn, Wendy is abruptly cockslapped right in the cheek; she squints in response, but we are not given access to her private thoughts.

Her eyes covered with cum, and perhaps with her eyelids glued shut, Wendy is led blindly to the shower, recalling the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz. Instead of a shower of fresh water, Wendy, still handcuffed, is pissed on directly in the face. Only then is she uncuffed.

Still unable to see, and afraid of slipping on the ceramic-tiled floor, Wendy crawls, only to find a toilet. Her partner submerges her face in the toilet bowl, which overflows as her entire head is thrust in. If this weren't enough, Wendy is then cuffed again, this time to the toilet. Straddled over the toilet, her head resting on the commode next to a jar of Vaseline, Wendy's pants are pulled down and she is sodomized, clearly against her will. This would be an explicit act of anal rape were it not for the surrounding context carefully crafted by the artist.

"Christ!" thinks Wendy. "He's fucking me up the ass! But at least I'll still be a virgin!" She also voices her outrage: "You bastard! Shit! God damn you to hell, you fucking son of a bitch!"

The allusion to Christ and her cuffing to a toilet is significant for Edwards. "It is an unmistakable crucifixion scene," he claims, "making Wendy a kind of Messiah for a born-again, post-feminist dispensation of pornography."

Since the entire encounter is being recorded by her police colleagues on video and audio, Wendy clearly has the option to emphatically state "No!" But, for reasons of her own, she refrains from explicitly refusing to cooperate. As Edwards states, "Wendy is complicit in the anal penetration; she is tacitly but proactively consenting to be forcibly sodomized, a baffling paradox."

Led back to the bed, her anal lover removes her cotton panties and goes down on Wendy, preparing to perform cunnilingus. Obviously this means her police badge will be revealed ...

(To avoid spoiling the ending for readers, we refer you to the published comics or the Wendy Whitebread Blog.)

The artist has acknowledged his deep indebtedness to a Hustler magazine photo spread. "Dream Lover," by Matti Klatt, appeared in the February 1981 issue, to the outrage of feminists, but to the delight of the artist, then an impressionable young man. "I was going on recollections of that issue when I drew the famous toilet-head-flushing sequence," recalls the artist. "I have since acquired the back issue on the collector market, and it continues to inspire my erotic imagination.

The influence of "Dream Lover" and its cultural impact has been discussed elsewhere on this blog, and a new, twenty-first century work by Anton Drek has been previewed recently in sketch form.

But it is important to note the many additions to "Dream Lover" the artist made, surrounding the central motif of shoving a woman's head into a toilet bowl, causing it to overflow with his own erotic preoccupations. "The handcuffs, the Vaseline, the forced anal sex, the blistering showering of piss - all of these were additions that even Hustler magazine could not have offered America in 1981," notes Edwards. "Just shoving a woman's head into a toilet, and presenting that as an erotic act of love welcomed by the woman, was crossing a line with many feminists and, frankly, a lot of men." A decade later, in Anton Drek's artistic interpretation, this same act is complicated by more explicit humiliation as well as a loving tenderness that makes the work difficult to dismiss as mindless misogyny.

This is part two of a two-part excerpt. For part one of this article, go here.

For a critical analysis of "Dream Lover," please go here.

For Anton's updated interpretation of the same motif, go here.
Excerpted from D. S. Edwards, "'Cora en la Cara!: 'Loving the Alien,' Wendy Whitebread, and the 'Syntax of the Facial Cumshot' in the translated work of Anton Drek," in The Journal of Alternative Comics and Underground Comix Studies, volume 13, number 17 (Spring-Summer 2018), pp. 38-67. It is reproduced here with permission. It is © D.S. Edwards, PhD, all rights reserved. All Anton Drek characters, names of characters, artwork and lines of dialogue in English and Spanish are ™ and © Anton Drek 2018, all rights reserved.