Comics have long been a medium for boundary-pushing artists and writers to draw in readers whose proclivities match theirs. During the Golden Age, and for many years afterward, any nods to sexuality had to be subtle. You can tell the kind of stuff Wonder Woman co-creator William Moulton Marston was into, for instance, when you notice how many times he had Diana tied up. But now, comics and manga artists can be straightforward — even explicit! — about sexuality. These are some of our favorite examples of contemporary comics that use lust, sensuality, desire, and/or debauchery to tell stories.
Gina Wynbrandt’s indie comic took the market by storm in 2016, skewering adult women who still lust after stars like Justin Bieber and Harry Styles while giving a nuanced look at the sex lives of people who don’t have partners. Gina, the protagonist, is consumed by sexual feelings she wants to explore but hasn’t found a partner yet, and watching her cope with this disconnect is both sexy and hilarious.
19. Sex Criminals
This Image comic from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky ran from 2013 to 2020, but its frank sexuality continues to piss people off. According to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, it was still the seventh most challenged book in the U.S. in 2022.
In the first issue, two characters, one man and one woman, discover that they share the ability to stop time upon orgasm. After having some fun with their newfound superpowers, they decide to rob a bank together. Everything gets absolutely nutso from there.
The comic is not just about shock value and gimmicks. Its central relationship experiences turbulence when things go awry, and watching both characters relay their sexual experiences to each other, some private and adolescent, feels like eavesdropping on secrets we’re not sure we should be hearing. It’s a good time to get into this one too. Prime Video is apparently working on a TV adaptation.
This deliciously weird sex comedy is set in a fantasy realm, so between all the full-frontal nudity, you see a lot of sorcerers, tieflings, and vengeful skull gods. If that’s your thing, you can make like a semen sprite and run to Topatoco, where they’re selling collected Oglaf editions. Of course, all the panels are free to view on the Oglaf website, too.
Created by Australians Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne, Oglaf features some recurring characters and running bits, but for the most part, it’s just a bunch of bawdy situations tied together by high fantasy logic. Animals talk, riddles abound, and everyone’s trying to magically compel others into having sex.
One of the things that makes Oglaf stand out – aside from all the orgies – is its commitment to gender and sexuality diversity. This comic doesn’t make a big deal out of queer storylines. It just places characters with varying sexualities into bonkers situations and draws all kinds of sexual pairings with the same audacity.
Yes, okay, every comic book fan already knows and loves Image’s Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It’s a sweeping, funny sci-fi epic that combines the galactic politics of Star Wars with the camp of The Fifth Element — but it’s also notable for its innovative framing of sexuality, particularly within a monogamous marriage.
Saga’s leads, Alana and Marko, have angry sex to blow off steam as often as they, for lack of a better phrase, “make love.” For years, they remained believably, furiously attracted to each other despite being under immense stress — and part of the comic’s appeal is rooting for the lovebirds to make it through.
Sex isn’t just domestic in Saga. A masculine archetype The Will rescues a young prostitute from a planet called Sextillion, and we watch that young character cope with her trauma. In one heartbreaking panel, she admits that she believes she is ugly and bad because of what men have done to her, and fan-favorite character Lying Cat shushes her, assuring her that it isn’t true.
The Cute Girl Network, written by Greg Means and MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood, is a gem because it devotes entire panels to the comical in-between movements during sex: the awkward pulling off of pants, and the fumbled move from bed to floor.
This comic is a fun look at casual intimacy, but it’s, more importantly, an examination of communication between young women. When the book’s central character Jane meets Jack, she is attracted to him immediately. She consults the women in Jack’s city who have dated him before, building a long narrative of Jack’s missteps and bad behavior. The comic asks an important question of young, sexually liberated readers: who are we to each new partner, an amalgamation of the people they’ve been with before? Does your initial impression of a person matter more than what his exes have to say?
We’ve already written at length about the sweet relief of reading a funny, sexy Wonder Woman comic, in this case, one written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, but Diana is worth mentioning here too. In “Earth One”, readers are treated to a frank look at what attracts Diana, warrior princess of the Amazons, to human man Steve Trevor. Further, we watch her in dialogue with her lovers from Paradise Island, who don’t understand her sudden preoccupation with men.
Earth One experiments with Wonder Woman’s sexuality in both plot and through visual rhetoric. That is, she’s depicted in bondage several times in the comic, though her reaction to the scenario varies depending on who’s involved. Earth One is a hopeful, triumphant testament to what superhero sex could be: unabashed, dangerous, and celebratory.
Oh, Starfire. What a long and problematic history you’ve had, you naive alien sex queen. In her current version, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and illustrated by the venerable Emanuela Lupacchino, Starfire is allowed to be playful again. Her world is rendered in glossy neon, and male characters struggle comically to control their raging hormones as she searches for the best in everyone.
Sex, though Starfire doesn’t always realize it, is a valuable tool for some female superheroes, and in this instance, it’s played for comedy without feeling exploitative.
13. Concrete Park
Alas, Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander’s Concrete Park is no more, but we can’t talk about sex in comics without mentioning Dark Horse’s gorgeous, multi-ethnic series. The citizens of Scare City have detailed, dynamic bodies that come in all sizes and colors, and when they meet in bed, the sex scenes are poetic and full of genuine affection.
12. Optic Nerve
Now, Optic Nerve isn’t where creator Adrian Tomine’s focus has been lately, but one could reach randomly into a pile of his work and retrieve a compelling look at sexuality. Tomine is responsible for some of the most beautiful, and haunting, images ever rendered regarding women, and frank desire. His male characters are quiet observers, almost vibrating with their intense longing. Every time they fail to make a connection, we feel that emotional impact in our guts.
Sex according to Tomine is full of clean lines and minute details: his women are lightly sprinkled with freckles, or their tan lines are laid bare to the reader. We view them through his masculine gaze, though each comic feels hesitant and shy, as opposed to demanding or entitled. There’s a sense, reading Tomine, that his male characters simply can’t look away, and it makes every one of his works compulsively readable.
11. Small Favors
Colleen Coover’s comic tells the story of MC Annie, a woman who masturbates so much her conscience shows up as another person to monitor her. The two have sex and fall in love in this very sweet story.
Nagata Kabi’s story is pretty tame by this list’s standards, but it’s a powerful comic about mental health worth checking out.
9. Yes, Roya
This femdom comic is loosely based on the creation of Wonder Woman. Using the backdrop of artists in the ‘60s, Yes, Roya explores poly relationships and the many different sexual variations that come with them. It can be tough to tackle BDSM in the literary world without getting the inevitable comparison to the Fifty Shades franchise, but C. Spike Trotman and Emilee Denich do it with aplomb.
Whether you’re enjoying the black and white version of the comic, or full color, you’ll fall in lust with the poly triad at the center of the story: Wylie, Joseph, and their dominant queen Roya.
Alright, hold on, hold on. Don’t go. Bear with us. Yes, Beastars is an erotic furry manga, but consider this: while many academia stories follow large-breasted-yet-virginal characters, Beastars allows its female lead character a nuanced relationship with her own sexual desires. Haru is attracted to a shy boy at school even though she’s enmeshed in a casual relationship with a more outgoing guy, and the narrative doesn’t “punish” her for it. The thing is, she just happens to be a rabbit. The shy boy is a wolf, and the confident boy is a deer. In one scene, the wolf dresses in drag to confront his rival, the deer, in a bar. And the scene is done with a surprising amount of gravity. Trust me, it works.
If you’re interested in sexy comics and you’re at all open-minded, Beastars makes a great introduction to the world of furries. But don’t worry, we won’t include any more furry examples on this list.
Just kidding! Now you’re trapped. You wanted to read about erotic comics, and here you are reading about cat people. But this one’s fine art. Blacksad is a meticulously water-colored noir comic by Spanish creators Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, and it’s published by a Franco-Belgian company called Dargaud. It reads like a sensual combination of the Maltese Falon mashed up with Zootopia, and every once in a while, the reader is surprised by a full splash page of scantily clad animal-women.
6. 10 Count
This erotic manga may not feature the most clinically-accurate depiction of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it makes this list at an opportune time for new readers, as the anime film adaptation is reportedly coming soon.
Pink-haired secretary Shirotani starts an OCD-recovery program under the guidance of a serious therapist named Kurose. As he learns to cope with his mental illness, Shirotani starts feeling increasingly attracted to Kurose, and his fantasies have inspired a sizable international fandom. For anyone who liked the slow burn of Yuri!!! On Ice but likes their romances quite a bit darker, 10 Count is a great read.
Anneli Furmark’s sensitive graphic novel is for readers who get their kicks yearning and pining. Like every Sally Rooney novel, Walk Me to the Corner is a particular brand of erotic story aimed at a very particular audience. Married, middle-aged protagonist Elise finds herself in a flirtatious emotional affair with another married woman that destabilizes her ordinary life. When Elise and her husband decide to open things up, everything gets even more complicated.
4. Sky Doll
This futuristic Italian story following a sophisticated sex doll created by the government is lovingly written and illustrated by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa. With jaw-dropping visuals, Sky Doll examines the intersections of sexual desire, spirituality, and romance. It makes the argument that sexual repression only leads to a conflation between sex and violence, making it a politically radical comic — on top of being an alluring one.
3. Dog Biscuits
You thought we were done with the furry business, didn’t you? Well, too bad. Alex Graham published her searingly funny and surprisingly emotional comic on Instagram at the height of the pandemic. Only a few panels into the love triangle between Gussy (a dog), Rosie (a bunny), and Hissy (a frog), you’ll find yourself engrossed in their anxieties. Tonally, it feels like Noah Baumbach directing an episode of Richard Scarry’s Busytown. And as a fun bonus, the characters get old-timey spinning cartoon eyes when they’re making out.
For genre fans who like to keep it sapphic, SFSX (Safe Sex) follows a group of queer sex workers as they take down the government’s Pleasure Center from the inside. You might recognize author Tina Horn from her kink podcast, but if you don’t, the fearless and fun storylines in SFSX will be enough to get anybody feeling curious.
Any fan of erotic comics worth their salt has probably read Sunstone, but if by some slim chance you haven’t, well… Croatian author Stjepan Šejić calls his comic a “mature story for immature people,” and it celebrates both romantic nudity and dirty jokes in equal measure. Originally fetish illustrations published on DeviantArt, Sunstone comes together almost like a 2000s rom-com, if those scripts had been allowed to feature dildos, leather, and whips.
Hopefully, you’ve found a comic on our list of erotic graphic tales that scratches your unique itch. If there’s one thing to be learned from the world of sexy comic books, webtoons, and manga, it’s that there exists in the literary world a corner for nearly every sort of pervert. Yes, even furries.
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