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Purchased originally due to Junko Mizuno front cover. It does, in fact, have a short Junko Mizuno excerpt, but it turns out to be from Pure Trance, which we already had. If you're not familiar with Junko Mizuno, she's an underground Japanese comics artist who originally became famous for the ongoing serials she drew in the CD booklets of a number of obscure indie bands. Her style is incredibly cute and super-deformed and gothy, and her work is a deliberate series of clashes between style and content. Pure Trance is absolutely the cutest most adorable dystopian matriarchal underground society controlled by thought-police beast-women dressed as nurses who pacify the population with designer drugs ever. In recent years Mizuno has traumatized me by drawing some things for the gone-but-not-forgotten American Shojo Beat, writing the most unnerving official version of Spider-Man ever created*, and designing a My Little Pony, which we own. Every time she does something vaguely family-friendly it becomes even more terrifying. Something of hers in a book called Best Erotic Comics 2009 had the chance of helping recalibrate the universe to more comprehensible proportions, so it was a disappointment when we took the book home, took off the shrinkwrap, and discovered we already had the thing. Therefore the book has sat around for a couple of years, and has now worked its way sufficiently up the backlog that I took a look at the bits of it that aren't Junko Mizuno.

And hey, this is not a terrible comics collection.

Well, with one caveat. It's trying very hard to be inclusive of all flavors of sexual orientation, degree of kink, and what have you, which means that some of the stuff in here is pretty cool and some of it makes me sit there facepalming and wondering why I ever, ever try to read professionally published porn that does not have the word FEMINIST in very large friendly letters somewhere on the dust jacket. (Oh wait. I usually don't.) Seriously there is and I am not making this up a comic in here that is trying to say that everything went to hell in the early 1970s because women started claiming sexual autonomy and so hippie types suddenly got laid less. Given the editorial discussion of which publication dates qualified material for inclusion, I... I think this must have come out in like 2007 at the earliest. GAH.

Fortunately, there are maybe two pieces in the book that give me this reaction, and their total page count compared to the rest of it is very low. But still. Skip the one with the guy who just wants to write summaries of the disgustingly shocking porn movies he watches for some reason-- not witty, not funny, will in fact mentally scar you.

The rest of it: there's some Alison Bechdel, which is excerpted from Dykes to Watch Out For, meaning I also owned it already. There's some adorable Erika Moen from her autobiographical webcomic, which is nice to have in print format, and a beautifully inked and conceptually odd lesbian piece from Colleen Coover (whose Banana Sunday is one of the standards for children's comics, making the revelation that she also draws porn pleasant but not expected). I would not precisely call the excerpt from Jim Goad and Jim Blanchard's Trucker Fags In Denial erotica, but I would call it hilarious. I mean, see title.

However, the best thing in the book is totally and unquestionably Toshio Saeki's incredible series of shunga prints, which I can best describe as what would happen if one of those seventeenth-century sex manuals collided head-on with a-- huh. Okay, for the first time in my life I don't know the English word for something which I can phrase perfectly well in a different language. One of that genre of ukiyo-e print which is a night procession of demons and goblin-types carrying lanterns, only the sort which is more whimsical than horrific, and which has multiple associated prints detailing the individual youkai and showing them doing characteristic things. I had not realized that this was a genre mashup that desperately needed to happen, but it was. I really hope he's done more that weren't in the book, because there wasn't a bake-neko or a kurakasa. Though there was a kappa. Well, several kappas. And the art style is perfect fake-Hokusai. The internet tells me he usually concentrates more on ero-guro, but the stuff here isn't that.

So, although this is even more of a mixed bag than many anthologies, it is as I said not terrible, and it's got a nice selection of comics artists from many different countries, racial groups, and ethnicities. It reads better as comics than as porn, but honestly I prefer that to the other way around. I wouldn't go out of your way to find this, necessarily, but I don't regret taking the time.

* When this image was first released to the public, along with the announcement that this comic was actually happening, Thrud stared at it, blinked, and said in tones of ultimate certainty 'Spider-Man should not eat the Jello'. This is such an inarguable statement that it has been used several times in our household to prevent people from doing extremely stupid things.

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