Minis Monday: Big Sexy

Posted by on September 13th, 2010 at 1:00 PM



Big Sexy
Edited by Daniel Barlow, Colin Tedford and Anne Thalheimer
B&W, 92 pp.
Offshore Comix; $6

Last time out, we looked at the two latest anthologies from the Trees and Hills Group, Shelter and Play. (Is it too late to add that, in the latter, I really dug Tom Pappalardo’s hilarious “Board,” the fullest exploitation of a plank as an imaginative kid’s all-purpose toy and a cure for the “glass-eyed dullard… sitting there like a plate of mashed potatoes left out on the counter over night”? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the story’s concluding line as a universal prescription in awkward or intractable situations: “Give that kid a BOARD!“)

This time a host of artists with significant overlap with Trees and Hills considers adult material in Big Sexy.

Play ended with a piece by Colin Tedford on the rehabilitation of the game Twister. In this version players wore tee shirts with colored circles that made their torsos an extension of the playing area, opening them up to for fellow participants’ opportunistic touch. It was all on the up and up, though… high-minded, even, as this game’s goal was “to create a safe space to allow people to touch each other while also respecting each other’s comfort levels.”

Big Sexy takes it from there. On the cover, Colleen Frakes depicts that same game and players in their dotted shirts arrayed in a number of permutations and combinations — including that big guy in the red rabbit suit — touching and respecting the hell out of one another with unmistakable intentions.

…And with great pleasure and engagement as well, which is something of the standard and keynote for this anthology as a whole. Other than that, it’s difficult to offer guiding generalizations for Big Sexy. Every time I think I come up with a broad quality for the collected material I can recall some bit that may well be an exception, depending on interpretation, predisposition and so forth. It’s “healthy,” it’s “safe,” there’s no violence involved except, maybe, depending… and there goes the liberating allowance of the entirety. I feel on pretty solid ground when I say that no affront was intended so offense is hard to find, but, as always, the ball is in your court on that one.

While some of the offerings do their level best at more straightforward pornography (without it necessarily being, you know, straight) most are better served with sex and prominent sex integrated into the rest of human experience.

Like gainful employment, as in the contribution by editor Anne Thalheimer. “Sex Toys” commences crisply, objectively — “I sell sex toys on the side” — gets more subjective — “sexy is a lot of things to a lot of different folks. (Jutting hipbones.) (Skinny knees.) (Your big vocabulary.)” — before getting down to its appropriate, spirited conclusion. In “Operator,” a story otherwise light on cartooning, Denise Warren teaches a country mouse like me a bit about phone sex (“I could not say I consumed feces, but I could confess I drank urine”).

There’s a lot to like about the range of approaches among the 16 segments. I probably laughed most when a grown guy is grilled by his childhood self about their respective past and future (“You’ve had sex with a lady?!?”) in “Lays of Future Past” by Radical Warren (hmm, that surname again…). Even more compressed, explicit and saucier is “Kitty Vs. Kitty” by Rachael Dukes, and more compressed and slier than that is her epilogue strip “How to Tell if Your Cat Is a Lesbian.” Longer, less explicit and just as tantalizing is the abduction of “Girls in Glasses” by perpetrators in outlandishly large African masks as envisioned by Frakes. By not missing PG content by much, the episode confirms her skills with implicit lasciviousness.

As with Trees and Hills’ anthologies, artistic quality ranges widely and much the same can be said of temperament, approach and treatment. As in the anthologies mentioned earlier, the pieces here of wit and charm (and maybe purpose. Maybe.) carry the day. Yet it’s undeniably the specific choice of subject, however represented, that really excites the level of enthusiasm of all involved. I could go on for a while about the virtues of several of the other offerings, but, in short form, the upshot is this: If Big Sexy fails to excite or enthuse you in some way, well, get yourself a BOARD!


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