Adult Comics: Why You Love Them and Need Them

When Paola (P.M.) was in graduate school, as part of her tri-part thesis, she decided to tackle something distinctive for her thesis, the censorship of adult comics. She’s been a comic fanatic her whole life, (and somewhere in this world, someone has her uncle’s Action Comics #1, signed by Siegel and Shuster personally, and she hopes you’re rotting in Hell with it). What was fascinating to her was the rise, fall, and resurrection of adult comics, meaning the comics strictly for adults, that came out of the smoke and ashes of censorship starting in the 1950s.

You probably all know the story. Senator Estes Kefauver was at his house watching his grandson reading a comic book titled “Crime Suspenstories.” The cover of the comic showed a man holding a woman’s head by the hair in one hand, and a bloody axe in the other, with a headless corpse lying on the floor nearby. Well, that was it for Estes. Comics were about to go on trial in Congress and change the game entirely for comic companies all over the country.

adult comics crime image

But then a young web-slinger thoroughly thumbed his nose at the Comic Code Authority of the Comic Magazine Association of America. The late, great Stan Lee of Marvel Comics insisted on producing and releasing, without the code, the famous Spiderman issue with Gwen Stacy’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin, once Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn, who was then addicted to drugs.

adult comics spiderman

From there, all bets were off. Italian fumetto comics depicting straight or gay porn around intriguing stories of murder, rape, torture, and other nightmares filled the bookshelves.

adult comics Serpieri Druuna

Robert E. Howard’s Conan saga went for the jugular in violence and, in later issues, gratuitous nudity and sex.


Even today, it’s hard not to find nudity, implied nudity, or a scantily-clad person in almost anything on the shelves!

So why do we love these adult comics today? A lot of the love can probably be traced to its tumultuous history with sex, violence and death. Back in those early code days, everything was so expressly forbidden in comics, you couldn’t see a bulge in any male’s crotch, no one slept in the same bed, and Superman’s greatest formidable foe was Mister Mxyzptlk, who only stopped being a threat if you got him to say his name backwards.

adult comics mitzelplik

Comics were dull and boring back then. When we pick up one of these adult comics today, we’re reminded of a time when we couldn’t – and it makes it all seem taboo, like forbidden love.

Adult comics have their place in the world also because for some it’s the only release of pleasure they can get. It’s no different than when boys sneaked into their father’s rooms to check out a Playboy or Hustler magazine. And adult comics, in this day and age, do an incredible job of depicting the female form. Even in our webcomic, “The Depths,” we have to hand it to KJ, our artist, on how well the details have been done for the sexual escapades and gratuitous nudity.

But we also want to stress something. Adult comics are great and fantastic and worth the pleasure they give – to a point. We are not fans of the comics such as can be found in Italian bookstores, which seek to depict the female form as a mere object which must be controlled somehow. There is a difference between what we write in “The Depths” and what you see in other comics, and there is a fine line between erotica, which we strive for 100%, and porn, which is mostly nonsensical sexual depictions without a plot – or with a scenario you can cut with a plastic knife. We are not interested in exploitation of women or indulging in sadomasochistic fantasies that denigrates and devalues women. We believe in strong, powerful female characters, appreciating the female (and male) form, and entertaining, exciting stories.

Adult comics have faced a lot of controversy over the years. Even today, some feel that to ensure our children’s safety, and not subject them to violence or nudity at too young an age, all hints of adult content should be suborned. While we agree that children should be protected from early exposure to adult subject matter, let us be clear it is the responsibility of parents to shield THEIR children from the supposed dangers they face, and not the writers, artists and publishers of adult-oriented media. Censorship, even self-censorship in any form, should always remain a personal choice.

Thanks for reading!

Lani and Riff <3