Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Either I am paranoid....

....or this is spooky.

(From my Amazon recommendations today

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

: [

The rule is that if a girl can hold a pencil under her breast, it's time to get a bra.  I don't know what it means if you can shoplift shoes under your boobs, and I don't want to know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I can't tell....

This is satire, right?

A company with the tag line: "The natural look is back!"

Selling fake nipples.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beyond Twiggy

I am sure the thought process behind the pinup calender Eizo (a medical imaging company) released last June was no more advanced than, hey--let's do a pin up calander with X-rays. But it does make me wonder...
  • Why release a calendar in June?
  • Would anyone actually put this on their wall?
  • Why only use one model?
  • Why do pinup models always wear high heels?
I bet that somewhere out there in the wide, wild world of the internet, someone was turned on by this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Snake

Most images in art of a woman and a snake are Eve, and the snake is a force of evil.  Which is all a bit hard on the snake... and the woman.  About the only other female figure in art shown with a serpent is Hygieia.

Hygieia is the daughter of the god of Medicine, Asklepius--Goddess of preserving health and leanliness. Like Asklepius she is often pictured with the snake, and also a medicine bowl.  Because snakes dwell in the earth they were seen as representing the soul and the wisdom of ancestors dwelling in Hades (the sleeping place of all the dead, not the Christian place for punishing the non-righteous.)

In my opinion we need fewer portraits of Eve, and more of Hygieai.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

How to tell whether you have 'fostered an environment'....

Kennesaw State University Interim Provost W. Ken Harmon showed a remarkable lack of insight when he stated:

"Kennesaw State fosters an environment where students are encouraged to report inappropriate and unethical behavior."

He was responding to the fact a lecturer in an accounting class stripped naked in from of the class on November 30th, and one of the students reported the incident to university officials on November 3rd... three days later.  Three weekdays.

That's some environment you've got going there, Ken.

The possible relevance of nudity to accounting was not explained in any of the stories. Perhaps to illustrate the importance of thinking outside the Jocks?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jingle Jugs

Jingle Jugs NEW VERSION - RECORD YOUR OWN MESSAGE Animatronic Singing Dancing Boobs - GAG Gift
This is, um, weird. A trophy display of bikini-clad (bikini apparently removeable) boobs that moves and sings  "Titties & Beer" by Rodney Carrington. 

The tag line is: "The Trophy Rack He's Always Wanted!"

If 'he' is a mammary obsessed serial killer in training, of course. Or is trying to buy a Real Doll on the installment plan.

"... you can use the included stand to put them on a flat surface, like the Thanksgiving table centerpiece." (Just to add to the 'freshly carved' I'm-a-comple-psycho with no social boundaries ambience.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Motorcycle Mermaid Man

December Diamonds Hairy Chested Victor Motorcycle Merman Ornament

No, wait.  This one. "December Diamonds Hairy Chested Victor Motorcycle Merman Ornament".

I'll just let that one sink in for a moment.

Motorcycle Mermaid Man.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Amok Time"

This Christmas Hallmark brings us, I kid you not, the "Amok Time" ornament.

Because nothing says "good will to all men" more than fighting your friend to the death because is suffering from lust-inspired frenzied aggression and then faking your own death.

Merry Amok and a Happy Pon Farr to all.

(And this one is on my wish list)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Soccer Freestyling in High Heels

Soccer in high heels is already fairly WTF.  But how is pin-up bringing the sport to "kids" around the world.

That said, this is pretty cool.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank you, Agmo & Ellingsen

Over the years I have heard the data repeated many times.  Based on a surveys men have more lifetime heterosexual sex partners than women.  For the United States it is reported as 12:3, for Norway 13:5 and for Britain 10:3.

Whenever this data is quote we are reminded that man are meant to want to spread their 'genome' as widely as possible, females are meant to try and bond a longer-term partner to get them to help raise the kids.

The only problem is that this data doesn't make sense.  As Agmo & Ellingsen (2003) writes "Under the condition that the population consists of 50% of each sex..." (which they established is largely the case) "...the number of partners must inevitably be exactly the same for men and women."

So we don't need 'just so' theories about why men have more sex (with women) than women have (with men)--because that flat out cannot have happened.

Of course there are lots of theories to be made about how they misremember, differently categorise and flat out lie about it... but that's a whole 'nother thing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Of Fruit and Fat

No metaphor is more over-used than a comparison of female body parts with fruit. (Oh, and the occasional male these days, but this is rarely if ever taken very seriously). 

The latest example being some research reported under the title of "Women's derrieres have evolved from pear bums to tomatoes". The take home message seems to be: peaches are perfect, pear are okay, tomatoes are just fat and god forbid you have a fully fledged "potato bum".

It is bad enough that women are compared to food products, but now we are being named and shamed by comparison with less tasty food products.  So not only are we meant to be compared to fruit (it's a scientific fact!), we are meant to aspire to being fruit (rather than less desirable vegetables).  Wow.  And an example of this terribly unhealthy look is... Beyonce.  Um, yeah, she looks terrible.

Of course if you look more closely into this message it seems to have been fed to the media by "Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume". It is female-only version of an earlier "story" in which the exact role of Dr David Holmes, of Manchester Metropolitan University( in "bum research") is less than clear.  It sounds a lot like bullshit dressed up as science and paid for by some company who hopes to profit from the resulting media coverage proliferated by lazy journalists who don;t know the difference between science and advertising.

Oh look, this "research" was "sponsored by the drinks firm Lambrini."  It linked to the now defunct 18+ website lambrini girls ( .  The picture to the left is an actual professional advertisement for this campaign for a product that is almost synonymous with over-indulging female drinkers (Lambrini is a flavored, bubbly and very very cheap sweet wine with an alcohol level of around 7%).  Their advertising is so routinely out of compliance with the law that it has to be run by the "copy advice" team in the UK (a process that is typically voluntary).

The so-called media outlets (Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald and more) who carried this reanimated non-story should be ashamed of themselves.  David Holmes prostituted his scientific standing for money, and allowed it to be used to advertise a cheap brand of wine.  Kathleen Alleaume spun the message to shame women and perhaps to sell the services of her "Right Balance" consultancy.  The only tomatoes that should be involved in this whole mess should be aimed at their heads.

See also:
Erotica complaint upheld

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Classic Cover: Backstage

If Louis had been a leg man that would have been okay.  Even an ass or boob guy. 

But Susie finally understood the what was wrong with their courtship when Louis confessed all... and told her about his wrist fetish.

No wonder she had never managed to get him to show any interest in going "back stage".

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recaptcha Disobediance, Part 4

So, the idea is that one of the Recaptcha words is the real password, and one is a word from a book Recaptcha is being paid to digitize.  If you want to read my rants about this, just check out the 'recaptcha' tag for parts 1 to 3.

My previous approach was to try and guess which was not the password and type 'slave' in this space.  This approach has become increasing unsuccessful. My new strategy is to not type the last letter of both words.  This works every time.

And if one of those words is actually a password, it shouldn't work, should it?  Hmmm?

See also:
Researcher Cracks ReCAPTCHA

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Issue with "Rapunzel Syndrome"

I will concede that I am probably over thinking this, but I would argue that names are important.  The names of concepts are like the names of people.  They take the idea out into the word, identify and to some extent define or limit it.  And I have an issue with the name of the "Rapunzel Syndrome".

Sometime people suffering from anxiety eat things they really shouldn't, including hair.  When these foreign objects are found in the stomach they are called bezoars.  Hair bezoars can get very large and project beyond the stomach and into the intestines.  This is called Rapunzel Syndrome and it is most common in prepubertal girls.

But when you think about it Rapunzel is a parable of coping and emerging into adulthood.  A young girl is locked in a room with almost nothing to work with but her own body uses it to bring her prince to her.  Thus she eventually escaped her witch/foster mother and enters a new life as wife and mother.

In Rapunzel Syndrome the girl doesn't through her resources/hair out into the world to achieve adulthood, she draw it into herself to cause illness and even death.  I suppose I could consider the naming deeply ironic riff on a mythic trope, but it seems more likely that it is simply glib.  That someone took hair + girl and came up with = Rapunzel, without doing a lot of research.

Hence my irritation because I think, deeply and fundamentally, that girls should act boldly upon the world, that myths and fables should be respected, and that scientists should do their research.  And if they did and the destructive force of female 'failure to launch' is the very point of the name... I stand corrected.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I don't know just how scared of wrinkles I would need to be to order this product (see right), and I plan on never finding out.  Not only is it hideous, it basically zaps electricity at your face through pointy nodes.  It is like a cross between a lesser known Dr Who villain and and a fetish device designed by someone who reeeaaally like the facehugger creature from Alien.

Even  weirder, are we really expected to believe that Linda Evans looks like... well like Linda Evans because of any kind of cheap face-zapping device rather than some reeaally expensive cosmetic surgery.  But at least the consumer reviews suggest plenty of people out there do, in fact, still have a sense of humor.

Some WTF from BMW

Things that are dodgy about this ad:
1) She looks under-age
2) Thinking of your car like a sexual partner is weird

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My question to the good people at Woolite would be....

Can you name for me a cleaning product that removes stains only on a temporary basis?  You know, like blast that fickle cleaner, it removed the wine stain from my carpet on Saturday, it was gone Monday and Tuesday, but come Wednesday here it is back again!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Earth to Chrylser

Have you seen the new Chrysler advertisement? It goes something like this.

1) Small kid is leaving school, three bigger kids are some distance behind him.  One yells: "Hey Parker, bet we can beat you home" (Or something to that effect).
2) Parker runs home with three kids in pursuit.
3) Parker jumps in hatchback of Mom's car, closes hatch and sees three kids in rear view camera.
4) Parker waves tauntingly at three kids as they drive off.

Beat you home? Clearly this ad was filmed with the idea that the three kids wanted to beat Parker, not beat him home. I get that Chrysler realised at the last minute that a jokey ad about bullying would not go over well. 

But now instead of being tolerant of bullying the ad just implies that Chrylser thinks their potential customers are complete frakking idiots who wont see through what they are clearly doing here.

(I would link to the ad but I can't find it anywhere online.)

Edited to add, found it:

I also found:
2010 Chrysler Town & Country—perfect for clueless moms and bullied kids.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learn how to speak "foreign" with the Newport News catalog

1) Says: Mon Cherie
Language: french
Means: My darling (to a woman).  Said to a man it would be "Mon cheri".
Really means: I beg for compliments and may be seriously codependent.

Or is that meant to read: Non Cherie?
Language: Fretalian
Means: Not darling
Really means: I have self-esteem issues

2) Says: tres jolie
Language: french
Means: Beautiful!
Really means: I am very vain.

3) Says: Bella Donna
Language: Italian
Means: Beautiful woman
Really means: see #2

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Curtains for Sarah: a Cover Story

I should have been an easy job.  Sneak in, take down the curtains, and whip up a ravishing dress to match her lipstick.  But then Brett charged in.  "Oh no you don't," he declared. "Red is my signature color!"  And that was when the Captain found them.  It might help Brett whose masculinity was frequently questioned, but Sarah's reputation was ruined!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Little Pony, Awl Growed Up (is this where pony play comes from?)

Now it is pretty clear that 'My Little Pony' is not pure horse.  It isn't just neotenised to look like an ultra-cute baby, it is blended with the characteristics of a human baby.  This is hardly uncommon.  Many toys have been animal-human-baby combinations since the advent of the teddy bear.  But somehow we don't really notice the species blending so long as it is big-eyes and harmless.

Then there is Strutz.  The My Little Pony that goes where no furry (for the most part) dares to go.  That is to say, a sexy human-animal blend whose private parts are not humanoid.  These My Little Whores'es come complete with 'love you long time' racial stereotyping.  Pale (Sierra), tan (Rio) and with narrow eyes (Milan).  Just an aberration, right?  This product had a short and unprofitable life and mercifully became extinct.

But then we had Bratz Babyz Ponyz, bring the unnecessary 'z' to the animal kingdom and reprising the trope of the pony with bedroom eyes.  Interestingly again the pony seems to be racially coded: black (Sashay), tan (Bonita), brown (Pursia), and white (Celeste).  There is an online game and dolls. In the game your pony needs shoes, eyes shadow and a nice bob hairstyle.

Looking at all this preening of quasi-humanoid ponies makes me feel like the whole thing is a training ground for pony fetish play.
See Also:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Facts of Life and Love

One of the unavoidable facts of life and love is, apparently, that blondes have more fun.  Other gems from this 1950 YMCA book include:

"Very few people are born with predetermined tendencies toward homosexuality."

"...a girl seems forward when she phones a boy."

"...women are less easily excited by sex stimulation...girls and boys alike, as well as almost everyone else, consider it the girls responsibility 'to keep the boys in line'."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summers Evil and the Dangers of Ephemism

Several recent blogs have picked up on a 'advertorial' by Summers Eve (see right, click to enlarge).  This full page ad tried, very ineptly, to mash together an ad for soap with an article about how to ask for a raise.  I don't have anything to add on the general stupidity of this advertisement.

I would like to make one point.  I was suspicious as I read the Boing boing article that it would be easy to mistake exactly what kind of product Summers eve is.  My suspicion deepened when I read the Sociological Images post entitled : Douching Your Way to the Top.

We are so used to the euphemisms aren't we?  "Feminine wash", "Feminine cleansing"?  It means vagina soap, right?  Douching?  Actually, no, it doesn't.  If you put these products in your vagina you are likely to end up with a very unpleasant result.

As irrational as it might seem Summers Eve is selling a product designed solely for washing the external pubic areas.  Or as they say "the external vaginal area".  WTF?! Isn't that akin to calling the face "the external throatal area", or the buttocks "the external anus area".  And for extra coyness the FAQ part of the page refers to the pudenda as "down there" (I kid you not).  And should you feel any doubt at all: "Summer's Eve washes and shower gels are not used internally".

Why would you need a special soap just for washing the skin in the pubic area, which is exactly the same as the skin covering the rest of your body?  I have no idea.  But just remember, don't put soap or any other cleaning products inside your vagina even if you do need a raise... 'kay?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Classic Covers: the Glorious Pool

Oops, we forgot to get cover art done for that smutty swimming pool book.

Eh, just trace over Miss August.  Nobody will know the difference.

What about the background?

Some basic shapes, bright colors, scribble in some grass there....

Bingo.  That'll do.  Nobody buys these things for the covers after all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is this story true?

[Aug 25, 2010] The story of a 72-year-old grandmother having a sexual affair (and surrogate baby) with her grandson has been all over the internet after appearing in New Zealand magazine New Idea. The question is: is any of it true. To put is bluntly, incest and weird surrogacy fits into some Kiwi stereotype of what might happen in crazy ol' America.  And this story fits neatly in the media categories or 'thing we love to hate' and 'thing we love to gossip about'.  It tidily combines: incest, age difference/older woman, old woman uses surrogate (or any other fertility service), 'he's with her?!' and many other memes of prurient interest and moral outrage. It is, to put is frankly, too outrageous to easily believe it is true. The fact that the story has now vanished from New Idea's website suggests that someone is not happy with mag's fact checkers right now.  Stay tuned for developments.

'I'm in love with my grandson and we're having a baby'

When 72-year-old Pearl met her grandson, little did she realise she'd soon be 'pregnant' with his child

Pearl Carter is positively glowing with joy. She has a handsome new boyfriend, is enjoying an active sex life after many years of celibacy and, amazingly, is preparing to become a mother again.

But the retired grandmother isn't carrying the baby herself. She and her young lover have spent a staggering $54,000 hiring a surrogate to help them with their dreams of having a child.

What makes Pearl's decision to become a mum again even more shocking is that her new boyfriend is her biological grandson, 26-year-old Phil Bailey.

Phil is the son of Pearl's daughter Lynette Bailey, and the pair is braving public horror and even prison by breaking one of the last taboos – incest.

However, the pair makes no apologies for their controversial plan to start their own family.

'I'm not interested in anyone else's opinion,' Pearl says. 'I am in love with Phil and he's in love with me. Soon I'll be holding my son or daughter in my arms and Phil will be the proud dad'.

Phil adds, 'I love Pearl with all my heart. I've always been attracted to older women and I think Pearl is gorgeous. Now I'm going to be a dad and I can't wait.

'Yes, we get laughed at and bullied when we go out and kiss in public but we don't care. You can't help who you fall for.'


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cuglies

There is ugly, pug ugly and fugly... and then there is cugly.  A brand of ugly found only in clothing catalogs, rendered even more mind boggling that even on attractive models, and with reckless use of Photoshop, it still looks this bad.  Rest assured should you go temporarily insane and buy this thing, it will look even worse in the privacy of your own home. The only scenario that makes this... shirt (?) in any way explicable it as follows.

Bob: "Oh shit, Benny.  You know that multiple-choice checklist we send to our sweat shops?"

Benny: "Yeah, so?"

Bob: "It looks like we accidentally ticked every single collar option on the gray blouse.  Now we have ten thousand blouses with six different kinds of collar, and a bow."

Benny: "Is that all? Our customers are, pretty much by definition, devoid of any style of sense.  They probably won't even notice."

Bob: "You're right, lets pair it the gray suit with the giant bow on the shoulder."

Benny: "Whoa boy, if you put to much polyester on the upper torso it can create a spontaneous singularity and bring about the end times. Don't you remember the Rayon Housecoat Crisis! We ended up having to convince people that Texas always looked like that."

Bob: "You're right Benny.  Thanks for talking me down there."

Benny: "Any time, Bob.  Any time.  Now hand me that bag of polyester lace shoulder pads and the hot glue gun.  I have a hundred bolero jackets to bedazzle before quitting time."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fun with Catalogs #1

As I can't get them to stop sending me catalogs, I may as well have fun with them. I vaguely remember an artist who cut out girls in skin mags and showed the reverse image, and sold it for big bucks (nice job if you can get it). This is the PG-rated, totally free (and worth every cent) version of the same idea.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Under-appreciated Villainesses: Dansen Macabre

Dansen Macabre is a Marvel Comics villain in search of an artist who appreciates her pin up perfection.  I mean most comic books turn even the most unassuming female character into a burlesque nightmare.  But Dansen Macabre is a Kali-Cult, exotic dancer who hypnotised men with her routine.  Also she dresses in what appears to be a totally form-fitting white catsuit and a black ribbon so dynamic it puts Coca-Cola's trademarked logo to shame.  And the depictions of her are uninspired, at best.

If I have to put up with phallocentric comic books they should at least be able deliver the one thing they are mean to be good at--the objectification of fantasy women.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Old Spice

Much has been made of the recent Old Spice ads (see also YouTube) and I have to agree that they are pretty cool.  They are trading pretty heavy on the trope of 'you can love it honestly, or you can love it ironically'.  This is the same basic principle that lets me wear a Princess Sparkle (My little Pony) T-shirt without having to turn in my feminist card. (And, personally, the centaur ad is my favorite)

What seems to be less clear is whether the heavily ironic mantitty of  Isaiah Mustafa  is actually selling any aftershave.  Some guy (I don't remember the name of men who leave their shirts on) on the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast asked whether you would wear something in order to smell ironic, is that even possible? Well my answer is that there is at least one kind of person who can wear a symbol of masculinity ironically, no matter how it is produced.

And that is a woman.  (Yes, I did buy some bodywash and deodorant.  Advertising wins again!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Librarian Erotica, Who Knew?

Librarians, as a profession, have a rather strange and conflicted reputation. One aspect of it is perfect primness and propriety.  And it seems that where ever such a reputation exists, it results in pornography.  There is a list of 49 hardcore pornography novels about librarians here that is strangely fascinating. Another ten (including one more) are reviewed here.  And there are two more examples mentioned here--bringing the total to 52.

So called "sleaze" paperback like these tend to go uncatalogued and were not printed on good quality paper. As such many titles are impossible to find and at the end of their life-span as physical objects. I certainly do not need to start a new collection, but if anyone out there is so included, here are the titles you would be looking for. 

I also added some more modern examples and reprints (links to Amazon). This leaves us with a listed of 61!  And I am sure I have missed more than a few.

Listed, of course, in alphabetical order (by title).  Some of these titles will contain material guaranteed to offend just about anyone--you have been warned.

  1. Bang the Librarian Hard by Laura Winters
  2. Campus Lust
  3. Chained, Whipped Librarians
  4. The Chaste Librarian by Celia Jade
  5. Degraded Raped Librarian
  6. Eager Beaver Librarian
  7. Eager-to-Spread Librarian by Don Scott
  8. Eager Young Librarian by J.D. Blackwood
  9. First Rear Entry
  10. Forbidden Reading by Linette Ashton
  11. Helpful Head Librarian
  12. Horny Balling Librarian by Nick Eastwood
  13. Horny Hot Librarian
  14. Horny Licking Librarian
  15. Horny Peeping Librarian by Frank Brown
  16. Hot Bed Librarian
  17. The Hot Librarian! A Novel of Erotica - Erotic Encounters by Iyla Brown
  18. Hot, Licked Librarian
  19. Hot Loving Librarian
  20. Hot Mouth Librarian
  21. Hot Pants Librarian
  22. Hot to Trot Librarian
  23. The Hottest Librarian by Gary F. Woods
  24. In Heat Librarian
  25. Janet, Librarian by Raphael Mello
  26. Lash the Librarian!
  27. The Librarian by Carmine
  28. The Librarian by Victoria Calaway
  29. The Librarian Gets Hot
  30. The Librarian Got Hot
  31. Librarian in Bondage
  32. Librarian in Chains
  33. Librarians Don't Get Married by A P Miller
  34. The Librarian Licks Big Ones
  35. The Librarian Loves It.
  36. The Librarian Loves to Lick by Frank Warfield
  37. The Librarian Slave
  38. The Librarian With the Hots
  39. The Librarian's Boys
  40. The Librarian's Hot Fun
  41. The Librarian's Hot Lips
  42. The Librarian's Hot Urges by Nick Eastwood
  43. The Librarian's Love by Ava Delany
  44. The Librarian's Naughty Habit by Heather Brown
  45. A Librarian's Training.
  46. Licking the Librarian by Hank Borden
  47. Line Up for the Librarian
  48. The Lusty Librarian by Waldo Beck
  49. Naughty Voyeur Librarian by Nick Eastwood.
  50. Nympho Librarian.
  51. The Oral Librarian. 
  52. Overdue for Please by Shelley Aikens
  53. Overeager Librarian.
  54. Raped and Roped Librarian.
  55. Sally - Sexy Librarian.
  56. Sex Behind the Stacks.
  57. The Sinful Librarian by Anonymous
  58. Split  by Kristina Lloyd
  59. Three-way with the Librarian.
  60. Untamed by Kathleen Lawless
  61. The Young Librarian by Rod Waleman
  62. What a Librarian! 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Classic Cover: A Stranger in my Arms

The reason our heroine finds herself in the arms of strangers may be that her idea of an intimate embrace involves grasping her man firmly by each lapel.  Or possibly she just can't find a man who her shares her passionate for interpretive dance.

Her: "You kneel on the floor behind me fully clothed, and I will close my eyes and reach backwards over my shoulders...."

Him: "Why are we doing this again?"

Her: "It will express our ineffable connection, and also do wonders for my lower back pain."

Him: "Screw this for a game of soldiers."

The previous title of this book was And Ride a Tiger, so maybe that is what actually happened to his lower extremities.

Friday, August 6, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics by Hillary L. Chute

Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (Gender and Culture Series)

My taste in female-authored comics is pretty obvious from the sidebar of this blog.  Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil), Wendy Pini (Elfquest), Donna Barr (Stinz, Desert Peach) and I am also a fan of women embedded in the production line comics (such as artist Lily Renee Phillips).  But I have never been much drawn to the rather sordid memoirs of the overtly feminist artists covered in the book I am reviewing today (Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, Alison Bechdel).
Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir

My first impression of Graphic Women was not over-whelmingly positive, it is written in the convoluted, polysyllabic jargon that is the academic version of purple prose. And it did not help that, to my eye, Chute simplifies some things that are complicated and complicates some things that are simple.  For example she frequently attributes the different levels of critical such of Husband (Crumb) and wife (Kominsky-Crumb) to sexism.  While there is no doubt that sexism plays a role it is a complex one in which commercial appropriateness and the development of associated skills are involved--not just the crass biases of critics.  Meanwhile the blocking of Gloeckner's work from spaces like public libraries has less to do with its complex and uncomfortable themes than the depiction of erect penises which has always been a problem whether the context is high art or Playgirl magazine.

The Complete PersepolisThere is good and proportional use of excepts from the works being discussed, embroidering upon their composition, meaning and context. It seems to me that Chute varies in how much she illuminates the various author-artists. For example, she is revealing in discussing Kominsky-Crumb, and settles into a more plain-spoken and almost journalistic tone in the chapter on Marjane Satrapi. I think the best balance is struck in the final chapter on Alison Bechdel where the complexity of Chute's language and of the subject are best married together. 
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic 
But there seems to be a very persistent self-involved strain such as when Alison Bechdel asserts that cartooning is "inherently autobiographical"--when the format as a whole clearly leans more towards the fantastical. Overall, it seems to me that the non-literary graphic novel and comic communities aware of and while not embracing, certainly respect, the literary and memoir aspects of the format.  however it seems that the reverse is not true.  The bold fantasies mainstream of comics is almost completely absent from considerations of the context for the author-artists in this volume and their intricate and neurotic disclosures.

One Hundred DemonsOverall, after reading this book, I did find their work of these female comic artists rather more appealing when 'taken from behind' in terms of motivation, biography and wider social context--than when Ii had taken them at face value. I was convinced, for example, for the first time that Kominsky-Crumb's naive style is a fully deliberate choice--albeit one I still find off-putting. I did however use my limited funds to buy a copy of Kominsky-Crumbs graphic memoir and of Persepolis.  On the whole I would say this book is dense, informative and useful in understanding a rather isolated but important strand of graphic novel development, but that this book embodies rather than explains its peculiar and irritating pretensions.

Cross-posted to Feminist Review