Recent Dorkiness

NSFW Funnies: Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss

Black Kiss 2 
by Howard Chaykin
What a fascinating comic. It's a story of sexual vampirism as a metaphor for Hollywood, and for film's corrupting influence on society as a whole. It's a pornographic argument against pornography, a portrait of Western Society drawn in jism and blood. Or maybe all of that's just a cheap intellectual come-on, an excuse to draw a whole bunch of dicks and boobs. Maybe Chaykin's yanking our chains, and having a great big laugh at the expense of anyone who tries to look beyond all the tumescent genitalia. The cover for the recent issue two seems to fit that bill, anyway: That's one hell of an illustration. Yes, there are some anatomical oddities (BOOBS!), and a coloring error has apparently sliced a chunk out of the model's left hip. Her body (against all logic) is not what's important, though. It's her face. She's sporting a perfect expression of come-hither cynicism, sexually powerful in spite of the leash around her neck. It's damned impressive work. And the slick modern coloring adds a sheen to Chaykin's lines, promising a world of sleek perversion within. What you really get, though...

...while certainly perverted...

...is grainy black and white artwork that's anything but sleek. That's good, though. For one thing, it fits the seedy subject matter better. But for another, all the cover color really does is bury Chaykin's technique under layers of cheap effects. It turns that masterpiece of expression into a tarted-up whore of a cover, luring in the rubes with cheap easy thrills but delivering delicate pencil shading and masterful use of zip-a-tone. Go ahead. Embiggen that last picture. I left it extra-big for you, so you could really get a taste of how good Howard Chaykin really is. Wonder, fear and respect, indeed. This is some of the best work Chaykin's done in ages. His garter-belt-and-bustier fetish is of course on full display, but it seems less rote (if only because it's appropriate). And his page designs are just staggering. There's one page in this thing so well-constructed that it took me a minute to realize there was a donkey show going on in the foreground. I'd share it with you, but... well... There's someone blowing a horse on it, and I'd like to avoid having the nerd farm slapped with an adult content warning. Which brings up a question I've been dancing around thus far: is Black Kiss 2 good porn? Well...

Yes? Maybe? There’s a bunch of people screwing enthusiastically, lotsa boobs and dicks and vaginas in various combinations, and a crap-ton of oral love. But like its predecessor series (Black Kiss 1, done almost 25 years ago), it’s horror-porn. So it’s also got vampires and evil succubus magic. The first issue featured a (mostly symbolic I think) sequence in which a hermaphroditic demon woman comes out of a movie screen and rapes an entire theater full of people with her multitude of hentai tentacle-dicks. Issue two features a scene in which a newly-minted vampire, on the pretext of performing oral sex, bites off a man’s penis and spits it across the room, blood spurting out of the stump as it slaps into the forehead of her lover. Who thinks the whole thing’s pretty damn funny. Plus, you know… That whole horse-blowing thing I mentioned above.

Which is not the sort of thing I find erotically interesting, but whatever floats your boat. The more conventional sex scenes (if you can call a threesome between a freakishly-endowed man, his lover, and her drag queen double “conventional”) are well-done in the manner of such things. The participants seem to be having fun, at least, if in a cynical and mildly dehumanizing manner. It’s better than 50 Shades of Gray, anyway. Though my one exposure to that may not have presented it in the best light…

At any rate. I’m not going to post any (seriously) dirty pictures, but I will post a clean one, from issue two:

click to *snicker* embiggen

That’s a nice page, using some of the artist’s trademark layout techniques: the musical motif that ties the page together, and the inset panel on the bottom-right are both classic Chaykin. You can see all that above. But I left the JPEG extra-huge just so you could appreciate all the fine detail that went into it. Seriously, click to embiggen that thing before you keep reading. I’ll wait.

Holy crap, huh? If you embiggened as I asked, you’ll have been looking at the artwork at more than twice printed size. Often, that just turns up shortcuts and imperfections in art drawn to be reproduced at a smaller size. Not so here. Seen up-close, this page reveals Chaykin doing some fine minimalist cartooning on the smaller background figures, but still draping them in zip-a-tone that’s barely noticeable at printed size. The larger figures hold together, too, though, and the pencil shading really comes to the fore. I also love that drawing of the drag queen in the bottom-left corner, with the long neck and just-prominent-enough adam’s apple. She visually establishes the nature of the dance Our Heroes (if that’s the right word) are attending, and balances the inset panel on the other side, to boot.

Such a good page. If I have any complaint at all, it’s that I missed that the band is dressed half-man/half-woman when I read it at printed size. I may have just been inattentive, of course, but man… They’re mighty tiny on paper.

Anyway. My point is… Chaykin put that much effort into a page of what is ostensibly a sleazy pandering porn comic. He’s obviously busting his ass on this thing, and having a lot of fun doing it. As I’ve noted elsewhere, I love seeing funnybook creators cutting loose on personal work, and that’s what Chaykin’s doing on Black Kiss 2. Whether he really has loftier artistic goals, or is just having a big raunchy laugh, I don’t think I really care. It’s so good that I feel compelled to read it, either way.

Four Stars

EDIT: After I finished writing this, I ran across a piece of information that surprised me: Howard Chaykin has evidently gone completely digital with his artwork. So all that pencil shading and zip-a-tone I was raving about apparently… aren’t. They’re still artfully-done computer effects that do the same thing, of course, and are no less impressive. But, still. Just thought I’d correct my error.

 

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About Mark Brett (395 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

2 Comments on NSFW Funnies: Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss

  1. Hey Mark, thanks for posting this. I miss seeing the interesting stuff like this since moving here. Mike Ernest used to share neat stuff like this with me way back when. You’re right about the embiggened page. The background isn’t skimped on at all. And that front cover is a beauty to behold. I’m not exactly sure why, but for some reason when I look at her… I’m reminded of Dr. Crusher from Star Trek Next Generation. Maybe it has something to do with some sort of fantasy of seeing Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troi & Tasha Yar being led around the Enterprise holodeck, (decked out for a party much like the one in the embiggened page) all in matching bustiers, garters & spike heels. Forest Green for Dr. Crusher, Red for Counselor Troi & Black for Tasha.

    Too much info?

    Like

  2. I suppose I can see a bit of Dr. Crusher in that face. I’m not seeing anything else you talked about after that, though. Because, yeah… TMI…

    Like

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