Sex, Drugs & Fascism: The Dangerous and Disturbing Art of Dopingirl

It appears this post has stirred up some controversy.  We are no stranger to that but the core members of the Pigtails staff feel there is a need for a disclaimer explaining why this item has been presented.  Because of the philosophical bent of modern fascism, it should go without saying that we at Pigtails do not endorse or condone Zashtopic’s message.  However, we do not ignore talent here and it would be foolish to put our heads in the sand and pretend this artist does not exist.  It would be interesting to understand better the artist’s drive  to produce this work and, in time, she may come to regret the folly of her youth and find herself subject to censorship as fashions change in her country.  It should also go without saying that Pigtails is not promoting some kind of pro-pedophilia agenda.  Pip has clearly stated in the accompanying text his disgust at this kind of didactic propaganda.  The existence of this work is a cautionary reminder about the state of society which artists seem compelled to express and that we should never become cavalier about the power of imagery in the service of dehumanizing regimes.  -The Staff

Although I have featured the work of far-right artists in the past (in my last big article, in fact), I have never focused on contemporary artists with far-right leanings, largely for two reasons: first, because the great majority of those artists simply do not produce work which fits the theme of this blog, and second, because, as a rule, I do not like to give any of Pigtails’ precious attention to fascists.  But I vowed when I founded this blog that I would cover the gamut of on-topic work regardless of the social/political affiliations of the artists.  In fact, I’d say that to be truly unbiased in terms of our coverage it was really inevitable that such an artist would be spotlighted here in time.  Rest assured, this was not a decision I made lightly.  If the contemporary artist in question had simply produced some bland one-off, or if he or she created images of little girls with some regularity but they were not particularly challenging or original, then I would likely have bypassed their work for something much more interesting.

But here is a contemporary fascistic artist who, for a number of reasons, could not simply be avoided.  For one thing Katya Zashtopik, who goes by the online sobriquet Dopingirl, is not a complete unknown even here in the West (though she does remain completely underground here and is certainly controversial).  Her work—comprised of illustration, photography and a little videography, sometimes in combination—has apparently been used in advertising and billboards in Russia, though you likely aren’t going to find any examples outside of that country.  Furthermore, Zashtopik herself is young, thin and undeniably attractive, often modeling in her own work.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (Self-Portrait)

To some extent Zashtopik has created a real brand, with her signature pink and white capsule, sometimes decorated with plus and minus signs (a pill popper’s yin-and-yang) or flames, and her girl & crossbones logo . . .

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Dopingirl Logo

. . . as well as a particular style in both her illustration and photography work which rests somewhere between cartoon cuteness, fashion mag elegance and unabashed sexual bravado, all of it tweaked by the sometimes sly and at other times conspicuous sheen of her far-right allegiances.  If that wasn’t enough to make her stand out, how about tossing pedophilia into the mix?  The most fascinating aspect of Dopingirl’s work, I think, is how she reconciles these seemingly disparate elements into a kind of fantasy world where tall, young, fashion-forward Nazi men date preteen girls and roam the European wastelands as a couple, coldly executing their enemies (and looking like Vogue advertisements while they do it) as the Grim Reaper looks on approvingly.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (1)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (2)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (3)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (4)

It’s a unique and chilling concept, and yet somehow it all feels of a piece.  There’s always been something a little inherently fascist about high fashion (high fashism?), and the Nazis certainly fetishized the Aryan body.  Moreover, Dopingirl simply takes early 19th century Europe’s obsession with youthful feminine beauty and cranks it up to eleven.  As for the drugs, they are a fixture of pretty much all contemporary youth subcultures whether those subcultures are left-wing, right-wing or no-wing.

The pedophilic aspects, however, are something quite new, at least for modern incarnations of fascism, as pedophiles are usually at the top of the list of categorical enemies of the far right.  I suppose if confronted, Dopingirl’s defenders might argue that the young girl in these images is actually just a stylized waifish young woman, and that argument might have some merit if not for the fact that Dopingirl’s primary muse and most frequent model is a little girl named Olya (last name unknown) whose relationship to Zashtopik is uncertain.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (5)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (6)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (7)

Zashtopik seems much too young to have a daughter of Olya’s age—between 6 and 11 in the images in which she appears—especially when you see them together:

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (8)

My hunch is that Olya is a young sister.  At any rate, it would be rather more sinister for a mother to present her daughter in such a sexualized manner than it would be for a big sister to present her younger sibling that way, though it’s arguably still pretty creepy.  Although none of Dopingirl’s photos of Olya or the other little girls in her work were blatantly pornographic that I could see, several of her illustrations were (these images, which I will not share here, included fetishized urination and little girls performing fellatio on little boys—the worst one depicted a naked girl of about 12 licking a grown man’s testicles), and a few of them seemed to depict a more cartoonized version of Olya. Thus, Dopingirl’s work comes dangerously close to obscenity.  Again, it isn’t clear that Olya is intended to be the model in those more cartoonish drawings, but there are some quite realistic ones, including a couple of nudes, where it is obviously her.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (9)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (10)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (11)

In one photo series, Olya, wearing a flesh-tone body suit similar to the one worn by dancer Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s Chandelier video, toys with a large albino python.  In the Sia video the nude leotard was suggestive of a person being presented as raw and stripped of pretensions.  In this case it’s a reference to Eve, the first woman, and her flirtations with the serpent Lucifer.  The images are stylized, presented against a washed out background and endowed with a modish eroticism.  Perhaps the only thing that saves these images from being straight up soft-core erotica is that there is an underlying theme here, a notion that, far from being the innocent victim, Eve was quite knowingly complicit in her dabbling with the devil. Presenting here as a child, then, is problematic.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (12)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (13)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (14)

Are these photos exploitative?  I would say that in and of themselves they are not, but taken into context with the rest of Dopingirl’s work there is definitely a troubling quality to them.  I’m not arguing that any of these images do not qualify as art, only that the overall picture painted by Dopingirl’s work is disturbing in ways that simple child nudes, even those that toy with an innocent sort of sexuality (as some of David Hamilton’s work does), are not.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (15)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (16)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (17)

In any other hands this next image would be charming and cute, but from Dopingirl it feels vulgar, as if she secretly approves of this young girl dolling herself up to look like a promiscuous young woman rather than the child she is.  To Dopingirl this is not an innocent little girl playing dress-up; it’s a young whore in training.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (18)

This one too feels as if the artist isn’t so much commenting on a troubling youth trend as outright endorsing it.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (19)

Given the hardcore policy of artistic censorship in Russia, the brazenness with which Dopingirl continues to flaunt her pedophilic fantasy scenarios is rather astonishing . . . until one considers who’s in charge there.  No doubt if her work had a left-wing bent she would’ve been censored (at the very least) long ago.  But because it flatters the fascist-leaning Putin regime, Dopingirl is largely left alone.  Such hypocrisy in the far right is historically well-documented.  Even so, if I hadn’t done enough research to know that Dopingirl is deadly serious about her far-right values and her involvement in the fashion industry, I would swear the entirety of her output was pure satire.  Unfortunately, it isn’t.  I worry that she may effectively be pimping Olya, putting her on display for some day in the not-too-distant future when all the best Slavic guys now lining up for her can put in their bids. That day may come sooner than later.

Of course, the most problematic aspect of her work is its unsubtle acclamation of Nazism and especially a kind of sleek modern form of fascism.  Notice in this next photo/illustration collage the reproductions of three painted portraits in the background of (from left to right) France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.  The originals of these paintings are hanging in a right-wing affiliated pub in Moscow called the Union Jack.  This appears to be Dopingirl’s office or workstation.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (19)

Here Dopingirl literally borrows a Nazi icon, the Totenkopf or Death’s Head, and marries it to a well-known sexual symbol, the Playboy bunny logo, thus eroticizing both death and fascism.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (20)

The sexualization of death is the most common theme recurring throughout Dopingirl’s work.  Indeed, her Instagram is called Death and the Maiden, after the title of a play by Ariel Dorfman.  In many examples of her illustration her little Aryan girl is hinted to be the sexual  plaything of the grim reaper. It’s clever and repulsive . . . mostly repulsive.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (21)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (22)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (23)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (24)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (25)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (26)

Again, it would be easy to imagine that the world of Dopingirl’s illustration is an entirely separate venture from the photographic work if the evidence against this wasn’t so substantial. Here little Olya is seen not only indulging in gun-play but also kissing and fondling a chocolate skull.  The truly disturbing part of this is Olya’s obvious and casual familiarity with the pistol, which she holds to her head in one image and feigns blowing her brains out by crossing her eyes.  I, for one, do not find this particularly amusing.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (27)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (28)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (29)

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (30)

Perhaps the most astute of Dopingirl’s symbolic illustrations depicts her little golden girl taking on the grim reaper’s mantle herself and looming gigantic over the city, as if she is embodying the Hindu god Shiva’s words, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (31)

But the image of Dopingirl’s that stays with me is this final one, a cartoonized girl’s head in an SS hat and a spiked collar attached to a leash. It reminds me that, at heart, fascists are about subjugation even of their own people. The girl drools, having been reduced to a slavering sex object.  She does not look happy, and that’s as it should be, for, despite the gloss and glimmer of fascism’s appeal, in the end there is no real comfort in it for anyone but the soulless and the sadistic.

Katya Zashtopik (Dopingirl) – Title Unknown (32)

A Fairy Tale Subverted: Victoria Ying’s ‘Il Lupo’

One thing I love is stories, illustrations, films or what have you where the paradigm of the little girl in distress is turned on its head. These can be taken as feminist parables, or simply as a recognition of the fact that human beings often do not conform to expectations. Ying’s Il Lupo offers up a complete subversion of the familiar ‘little girl lost in the woods’ trope, and it does so in a rather surprising way. I am posting the first two pages here; to read the rest of it (it’s only ten pages long and a quick read), you must go here. Don’t miss this one—I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, and Ying really deserves the traffic at her site. Do yourself a favor and read this comic!

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 2)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 2)

 

Pyrénée by Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis

by KK

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis - Pyrénée (1998) (1)

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis – Pyrénée (1998) (1)

The theme of the wild child, a pure innocent who lives among the animals, is usually the preserve of boys like Mowgli and Tarzan.  But there is one prime example that makes use of a little girl, and that is Pyrénée. Rescued by a bear from the ruins of her home, she lives free from human society but must learn how to rejoin it. The book takes a comfortable, quiet approach to Pyrénée’s relaxed relationship with the bear, a fox, and a blind eagle as they lead her to understanding who she is.

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis - Pyrénée (1998) (2)

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis – Pyrénée (1998) (2)

Pyrénée slowly absorbs life’s lessons from the animals and learns what she can of humanity from random found artifacts. She becomes attached to bottles, which she assumes are curious rocks. Other items, like this coat supplied by the eagle, are more confusing and discarded when Pyrénée finds no further use for them.

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis - Pyrénée (1998) (3)

Régis Loisel and Philippe Sternis – Pyrénée (1998) (3)

Pyrénée was written by Régis Loisel and illustrated by Philippe Sternis.  A botchy English translation can be found here.

Sinister Charm: Ronald Searle and the St. Trinian’s Girls

In the course of working on Pigtails, I have to view a lot of films that feature little girls. Some are good, some not and some defy classification. One was The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) and after watching it, I knew I had to review it because of its unusual portrayal of girls. Upon further consideration, I could not help wondering where the idea for the film had come from.

After leaving school at the age of fourteen, Ronald Searle (1920–2011) took night classes at the Cambridge School of Art. To pay for his tuition, he worked various jobs: solicitor’s clerk, parcel-packer and clerk at the Co-op. At fifteen, he became the resident cartoonist on the Cambridge Daily News and in the next year began contributing to the student magazine. A scholarship awarded in 1938 allowed him to study full-time at the school. In April 1939, he joined the Territorial Army as an Architectural Draughtsman and saw his first drawing published in the Daily Express that November. His military service then took him to the village of Kirkcudbright in Scotland, which happened to be an artist’s community. One of his most welcome ports of call was the home of the Johnston family. One day, as a purely domestic joke, he made a drawing to please the two schoolgirl daughters who attended an academy by the name of St. Trinnean’s.  He was encouraged to include it with a small number of cartoons he was hoping to submit to the monthly magazine, Lilliput.

Searle, however, had been posted abroad before publication and within a month of his posting in Singapore, the Japanese invaded. While under fire, Searle found a copy of the October issue of Lilliput and saw his cartoon in print for the first time. After the British forces surrendered, Searle was listed as missing and no more was heard of him for almost two years. On December 29, 1943, the Red Cross finally informed his family that he was in fact alive.

During his incarceration as a prisoner of war, Searle continued cartooning and drawing secretly, recording many of the atrocities he witnessed. The Japanese were aware of his activities, and for three months in 1945 he was allowed to draw murals at a beach villa and officer’s club. In August 1945, a ceasefire was declared and he returned home that October.

An Assistant Editor at Lilliput noted that he picked up his career right where it had left off.

…[Searle] walked into our offices bearing a neat folder containing seventy-two cartoons. They were drawn in faded brown ink, on stained and yellowing paper. Some of them were crumpled. Most of them had survived burial in the jungle undergrowth or under disease-ridden mattresses, where the Japanese would be unwilling to search…We asked him for more and published them every month for the next three years. -Kaye Webb, November 1945

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (1)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (1)

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (2)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (2)

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (3)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (3)

It is reasonable to expect that Searle’s experiences would have found a way to spill over into even his most light-hearted work. Webb, with whom Searle began an affair, stated that:

It hardly seems necessary to mention that Searle does not really think of schoolgirls as murderous little horrors. But unconsciously he was seeking to reduce horror into a comprehensible and somehow palatable form.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (4)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (4)

In 1947, Webb gave birth to a twin son and daughter at about the time the gin-swigging, cigar-smoking portrayal of the girls emerged.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (5)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (5)

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (6)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (6)

Hurrah for St Trinian’s! (1948) was introduced by D.B. Wyndham Lewis, who became the girls’ official chronicler when a writer was needed to accompany Searle’s cartoons. He later published a full-length novel with Searle, The Terror of St Trinian’s (1952), writing as Timothy Shy. Other books included The Female Approach (1950), Back to the Slaughterhouse (1952) and Souls in Torment (1953). Additional writers seized on the opportunity to bring St Trinian’s to life with more stories and songs. After the cartoons were reprinted in The Tribune, Art News and France Dimanche, the girls had become unstoppable and, despite his intentions, Searle’s cartoons remained in print into the 1990s. The first book to publish the complete drawings was finally compiled in 2007 as St Trinian’s: The Entire Appalling Business.

Searle’s biographer Russell Davies noted that though, at the time, scarcely more than a dozen St. Trinian’s drawings had yet appeared, the invention of new horrors for the girls to wreak was becoming a chore. By 1952 Searle decided that his life had been dominated by them for too long and stopped drawing them, killing the girls off in an atomic explosion the following year.

St. Trinian’s has gone. Encouraged by the success of recent atomic explosions in the Pacific, the school Nuclear Fission experts threw themselves into their experiments with renewed enthusiasm and with the help (thanks to certain old girls) of some newly acquired top secret information, achieved their objective at midnight last night. The remains of the school are still smouldering. By some miracle the statue of our patron saint, scorched but uncracked, still stands where once the ripple of girlish laughter could be heard on a clear frosty morning. The fate of the teaching staff is unknown, nay, will never be known, and a few young ladies are believed to have survived. Early morning reports from parts of the country bring news of blackened figures silently trotting through sleepy villages, but bloodhounds have failed to pick up a scent—however radioactive. This blow from which St. Trinian’s cannot recover (the building fund has been embezzled anyway) may bring a sigh of relief to many a parent and a quiet tear from true lovers of healthy girlhood. Let it suffice for us to say (before we draw a veil over the last broken limb) we are proud that the name of St. Trinian’s has echoed through the land. R.S. -From Souls in Torment, 1953

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (7)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (7)

Searle may have been trying to please the British public and presumably the children’s book critics, but he was not happy to regard it as a key part of his life’s work.

The cartoons were both incredibly popular and highly ridiculed. The novelty of British schoolgirls breaking stereotypes may simply have been refreshing, but it may have also had therapeutic value for a populace recovering from the horrors of war. For women and girls, it likely had a liberating effect—giving them a way of voicing a seething resentment at the confinement of polite British society and hope in being accepted as they are, warts and all. The ridicule was a predictable backlash against women’s independence and the latent fear of lesbianism. Despite these attacks, St. Trinian’s became a household name and the basis for countless inside jokes.

It was probably Arthur Marshall—another St. Trinian‘s author—who gave the school’s headmistress, Ms. Fritton, her persona in the film comedies that followed. As is often the case, the first film was the best and it was no small task for the screenwriters—Frank Launder, Sydney Gilliat and Val Valentine—to patch a series of comedic beats together into one coherent story.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (8)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (8)

The main plot is about the goings on surrounding a horse race. Ms. Fritton’s brother—both brother and sister were played by Alastair Sim—has a contender named Blue Prince and is coercing his sister to allow his daughter, Arabella (Vivienne Martin), to reenroll in the school after having been expelled for arson. That in itself would have been a small matter except for the fact the the building in question was not insured. Here we meet Bella and one can see she is holding a cigarette at the bottom of frame.

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (1)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (1)

The reason for her return is to help her father spy on another contender, a horse owned by a sultan called Arab Boy. This is his daughter Fatima’s (Lorna Henderson) first year at St. Trinian’s and will presumably be the source of the intelligence.

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (2)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (2)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (3)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (3)

When the girls of the Fourth Form learn how fast Arab Boy is, they hope to make some money by placing a bet on him before word gets out. At one point, due to Bella’s interference, they have to hide the horse in their dorm room. Ms. Fritton gets wind of this situation and also sees it as an opportunity to finally get some funds for the school and perhaps finally pay off her staff. The situation has the Fourth Form and Sixth Form girls plotting against each other and one can’t help rooting for the younger girls who finally prevail.

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (4)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (4)

One girl in particular has learned to survive by keeping her ear to the ground, and she is periodically squeezed for information by the other girls.

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (5)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (5)

Even in the beginning of the film, it is established that the girls terrify the local constabulary which, along with the Ministry of Education, is conspiring to shut the school down.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (9)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (9)

A female detective infiltrates the school posing as a gym teacher in order to gather evidence. A tour of the school exposes her to the many terrors of the school and what the girls get up to. In chemistry class, Ms. Fritton advises the girls to be cautious when working with nitroglycerine and we also learn they are producing bootleg gin which a shady character named Flash Harry helps them sell.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (10)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (10)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (6)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (6)

The detective is dismayed to learn of the girls’ lack of discipline and tactics in field hockey matches. They do not win by skill, but by literally putting their opponents—and any meddling referees—out of commission well before the second half! There is always a stack of stretchers on hand at these games.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (11)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (11)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (7)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (7)

The girls of the Fourth Form have saved the day and for the first time since 1927, the school is able to give an award for good conduct, which the girls immediately spoil.

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine - The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) (8)

Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat and Val Valentine – The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954) (8)

There were several sequels, but there was no consistent feel to the films given how far apart they were produced. In Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s (1957), the girls contrive to cheat on a national competition to justify traveling abroad to meet a rich and eligible bachelor. In The Pure Hell of St. Trinian’s (1960), the girls are subjected to a scheme to be inducted into a sheik’s harem. In The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery (1966), the girls are relocated after burning down their school and discover that robbers have stashed their booty there. In The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s (1980), the girls decide for some reason to go on strike and get other schools to join them. And then there has been a recent spate of remakes: St. Trinian’s (2007) and St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold (2009) which take advantage of the public’s new familiarity with British boarding school life since the Harry Potter films.

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (12)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (12)

Ronald Searle - (Untitled) (c1950) (13)

Ronald Searle – (Untitled) (c1950) (13)

Although St. Trinian’s is a fictional school, various aspects of it were inspired by different schools. It was reputedly based on two independent girls’ schools in Cambridge—Perse School for Girls and St Mary’s School. Searle, growing up in Cambridge, saw the girls on their way to and from school on a regular basis. In fact, in the Perse School for Girls’ Archive area there are several original St. Trinian’s books, given to the school by Searle himself. The gymslip style of dress worn by the girls closely resemble the uniform of the school that Searle’s daughter Kate attended.

I found an interesting site that chronicles the history of girls’ schools, both real and fictional, and you can read more here.

Girls as Fairies

Several years ago I visited a medieval fair. It was a modern American version of medieval Europe, censored to conform with modern American concepts of decorum. Therefore, I was surprised to see a booth selling what at first glance appeared to be figurines of nude girls. Then I saw they were not really figures of human girls; each had a tiny pair of gauzy wings. They were actually intended to represent nude fairies. Was it really necessary to put wings on the nude girls and call them fairies?

In my opinion, it was. I would not have been offended by figurines of human girls, but I would have been intimidated about entering their booth and perusing their wares if the figures were displayed as human girls, because I thought others would think it was improper. I had the strange feeling that the other people there felt the same. I felt that nobody who browsed through the booth was offended by nudity, but feared others would look down on them if the figurines represented girls instead of fairies.

I did not get one of the figurines, but I have found other fairy figurines, including this one, at the Mollamari web page.

Mollamari - Young Fairy (2015)

Mollamari – Young Fairy (2015)

Note the attention to detail on this figure. It looks like a realistic figure of a girl, and it may not be immediately apparent why it is a fairy. You can see how the figure was made here, and you will see that the ears—not visible on the completed figure because they are covered by hair—are pointed. If the feature that makes the figure a fairy instead of a girl is not easily seen, is it still better to make it a fairy? In my opinion the answer is yes, but I cannot explain why. This is not logical, but nothing about fairies is logical.

Fairies, elves, and leprechauns are known to occultists as “elementals”, spiritual creatures that are neither human souls nor angels. Some UFO researchers believe that flying saucers are fairies that manifest themselves in an updated form, but still play the same irrational, centuries-old pranks. Although some fairies were thought to be of diminutive size as far back as Gervase of Tilbury (1211), most fairies prior to the 17th century were thought to look much like humans. The de Lusignan family of France, in fact, claims descent from a fairy, Mélusine, who for six days of the week looked exactly like a human. According to Richard A. Schindler, Associate Professor of Art Allegheny College, fairies in art became very popular in the mid-nineteenth century, in part as a contrivance to permit nudity that was becoming unacceptable in paintings of humans. This view is shared by Terri Windling, artist, author, and founder of Endicott Studios, and also by Christopher Wood of the Antique Collectors Club.

It is my personal observation that most of the fairy paintings from the 1860s or earlier portray fairies as adults. Later artists are more likely to paint fairies as juveniles.

Luis Ricardo Falero (1851–1896), was a painter who specialized in fantasy subjects. Most of his paintings are of women over the age limit for Pigtails, but the butterfly girl in this painting appears to be adolescent. Although the fairy is nude, fairy art by this time was not merely a contrivance for nudity. The atmosphere of fantasy and magic is to me the main attraction of this painting. The girl, the butterfly wings, and the flowers, considered separately, are realistic. When these elements are combined in the painting, we go from realism to pure fantasy.

Falero

Luis Falero – The Butterfly (1893)

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) illustrated fairies for children’s books in the early 20th century. Fairy art was still very popular, but was considered especially appropriate for children. I like the facial expressions on the fairies in this painting of a formal procession.

Tarrant

Margaret Tarrant – Lady’s Smock Fairies (c1920)

Cicely Mary Barker (1895–1973) was another popular illustrator of children’s books. The following are from her series of Fairy Flowers of the Spring.

Cicely Mary Barker - Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Cicely Mary Barker – Bluebell Fairy (1923)

Barker2

Cicely Mary Barker – Daffodil Fairy (1923)

Ida Outhwaite (1888–1960) is the third of the early 20th century illustrators I will include in this post. I did not realize until after I started to gather information that there were so many very good artists who specialized in fairies. These two illustrations are typical of her work.

Ida Outhwaite - When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – When the Fairies Came (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite - Wild Geranium (c1920)

Ida Outhwaite – Wild Geranium (c1920)

Brian Froud (born 1947) is one of the most famous contemporary British fairy artists. His fairies appear to be rustic and mischievous. I like the natural feeling of his paintings. Here are two samples.

Brian Froud - Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud – Cover Illustration from Faeries (1979)

Brian Froud - Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Brian Froud – Illustration from Good Faeries / Bad Faeries (1998)

Erlé Ferronnière (born 1971) is a French artist. His favorite themes are mythology and legend. I think his work is great. It is hard for me to explain why; there is just something magical and otherworldly about his art. The first example of his is this cute butterfly girl.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The next is my favorite Ferronnière. Most of the fairies are the wrong age and sex for Pigtails in Paint, but there is a butterfly girl in the lead and a dragonfly girl overhead. Are the fairies kidnapping a human baby? If they are, the baby does not seem to mind. The more I view this painting, the more it draws me into the strange world of fairy.

Erlé Ferronnière - (title and date not known)

Erlé Ferronnière – (title and date not known)

The last artist I want to include is a Japanese artist who uses the name Syuceui. His work is posted on pixiv. You must register on pixiv to view any drawings that feature nudity, but registration is free. Syuceui has realistically drawn girls, but with surrealistic elements such as wings and floating in air. I have included three of his works. All are simply titled Fairy. The last is my favorite. I like the expression on the fairy’s face; it appears she enjoys posing for her portrait. I would like the drawing if it were of a human girl too. If you look at it logically, it essentially is a drawing of a girl. The only things that indicate she is not human are a pair of wings behind her and a frog and mushroom which, if drawn to scale, indicate her size. That is enough to remove her from our world, and put her in the magic and illogical realm of fairy.

Syuceui - Fairy (2015)

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (1)

Syuceui2

Syuceui – Fairy (2015) (2)

Syuceui Fairy (2015)

Syuceui Fairy (2015) (3)

 

Welcome to Lolicon: ZekromLullaby

Interesting things can happen all the time. Hello, nice to meet you all. I’m an artist that goes online by many names, but you can just call me Zek. I’m from Honduras and I have been drawing nudes online for only the past 4 to 5 years.

Ever since I was a child, I used to draw. I never quite understood why but I always had some fascination with nudity; it was obviously innocent but at the same time it was something that marked my future years. I remember drawing a lot of nude bodies when I was 6, I fell in love with Renaissance painting and sculpture and, as a matter of fact, I used to watch Dragon Ball among other animes, which showed full nudity in some of the child characters. So that is how different art forms got mixed up in my head. Fast forward a few years, and I was discovering certain art communities online, for example Deviantart.

Many readers of this site may not be familiar with modern Japanese art styles. Japan is unusual in being well-known for allowing things like nudity and sex in some of their cartoons, but not all animes are sexual or feature mature material. I don’t normally draw in the anime style; I have done it, but isn’t my usual inspiration.

ZekromLullaby - Adelie (2014)

ZekromLullaby – Adelie (2014)

This was an older drawing of mine in an anime-like style. Adelie is a young alien girl who appears in my favorite episode of the Space Dandy anime. There’s a Japanese term used to describe young girls in art like mine, Loli or Lolicon. Of course I draw a lot more but this site focuses on young female artwork.

There are very few art sites that allow you to really draw nude young characters. I was honored to be allowed to write for Pigtails in Paint. This must be one of the most peculiar sites I’ve visited.

Even with the censorship I usually needed to put to my works, you can easily find people willing to insult and hurt you and your work; it’s always part of defending your ideals.

As you will see, I like to experiment and try new styles and techniques. I include mostly works from this year because I’m improving still and only wanted to include what I feel is worth it.

Let’s start with my drawings.

ZekromLullaby - Winnie (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Winnie (2015)

ZekromLullaby - Winnie's Halloween (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Winnie’s Halloween (2015)

Winnie Werewolf is a young cub who appears in the Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) movies. The movies inspired me to draw her. She was sincerely adorable in both movies. My first one became the most famous drawing of this set, so I decided to make the second one for Halloween. I spent a lot of time experimenting in a more traditional painting style, even though both drawings are fully digital.

Genndy Tartakovsky et al - Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Genndy Tartakovsky et al – Hotel Transylvania (2012)

On the internet there’s a subculture called “Furry Fandom” and their members are called furries. Many furries like mature or suggestive artwork featuring anthropomorphic characters (characters that are both humanoid and animal, but are able to think and feel just like humans). I don’t see myself as a furry, but many artist friends and most of my followers are furries.

ZekromLullaby - Princess Chysalis (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Princess Chysalis (2015)

This next drawing was a small experiment I want to repeat one of this days. It’s a humanized and younger version of a villain from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. This is one of my favorite fast drawings.

ZekromLullaby - Cub Tigress (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Cub Tigress (2015)

Another character I really like is Master Tigress from the Kung Fu Panda franchise. There’s a short TV special featuring her as a child. I wanted to draw her while she was having some fun undressing, probably before taking a bath.

ZekromLullaby - Gleck and Flock (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Gleck and Flock (2015)

The goblins are naked by this age according to some folklore tales. They are characters created by a friend of mine and fellow artist who goes by the name TheMushman. Examples can be found here and here.

ZekromLullaby - Milly (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Milly (2015)

Now Camilia (“Milly”), is a character created by a very talented furry artist, Brian Christy Burke, better known as Drake Fenwick. There’s a backstory for her. According to Milly’s lore, when children are left in the malls they become the mall’s property and are forced to work for whatever store payed for them. Milly was owned by a store very similar to Hot Topic. She loves to wear Gothic clothes and do any type labor for the store. On my picture she is holding some small discount banners to attract customers. She is featured in only a few online comics. This drawing had different variations. In this case, Milly is a Goth young girl who likes to be topless in public places.

ZekromLullaby - Jinjing-Yu (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Jinjing-Yu (2015)

I was considering not including this drawing because technically this character isn’t a child. She’s already a full adult, but even so her body is anthropomorphic in a way that makes her torso still resemble a dog, which gives the young-looking illusion. Yet I believe her design looks young enough to be featured here. She was created by my good friend Tchaikovsky.

ZekromLullaby - La Gardevoir Desnuda (2015)

ZekromLullaby – La Gardevoir Desnuda (2015)

As a small tribute to Goya. One of the most influential nudes ever made is known as La Maja Desnuda. I wanted to make my own interpretation of it since I was a child. I made a Pokémon my model for it, and couldn’t be happier with the decision; that give a fresh look to it.

ZekromLullaby - Raindrop (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Raindrop (2015)

How could I complete this without at least one of my own characters. And since everything here has been digital, I thought it would be good to show something done on real paper. She’s named Raindrop Roses and even if her profile and backstory says she’s centuries old, I believe there’s a place for her here. I have a lot of plans for this girl—even a future comic.

ZekromLullaby - Shadow (2015)

ZekromLullaby – Shadow (2015)

Let me conclude this with my most recent girl drawing. She’s Shadow, one character from the webcomic The Monster Under the Bed. When the comic starts she’s only 8 years old. Her design really made me draw her on the very first night I discovered the comic. She will grow up to become a great monster-woman, but I wanted to show how nice she is already.

And this will be all for now. Thanks for such an opportunity. I’ll be working on more art in the future, maybe if people have an interest, I could talk with the staff and post more. If you have any questions just leave a comment or look for me in any of my pages (also here, here and here).

Christmas in July Special: Emshwiller, Bunch and ‘A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia’

Ed Emshwiller—known affectionately as Emsh—is one of those names that only fans of classic science fiction and fantasy will probably be familiar with, but within that community the artist held some prestige.  He is most known for doing pulp magazine covers and interior art, particularly for Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  When one thinks of sci-fi art of the 50s and early 60s, it is probably Emshwiller’s style that comes most readily to mind.

David R. Bunch was a science fiction and satirical writer who is best known for a series of short stories set on Moderan, an Earth analogue world where everything has become largely mechanized, including the people of Moderan themselves, and those people live inside giant computerized structures called Strongholds which are at perpetual war with each other.  Bunch wrote dozens of these stories, most of which have been collected in the Moderan volume and in various science fiction anthologies.  One of these stories, A Little Girl’s Xmas in Moderan, was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (though it was retitled A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia, probably due to some copyright conflict with the name Moderan).  It became the cover story for that issue, with cover art from Emshwiller.

It is a strange story told from the point-of-view of a kindergarten-age girl—known only as Little Sister in the story—one of the few citizens of Moderan who hasn’t yet become a cyborg and thus retains her full humanity.  Bunch contrasts her nicely against her father, who is almost entirely machine at this point and, although fully sentient, has essentially lost touch with what made him human in the first place, including being a father to his two children.  The entire family—father, mother, son and daughter—each live in their own house with robot servants to attend their every need.

The Moderan series was an early representative of the New Wave of science fiction, which completely revolutionized the genre, but today Bunch and his Moderan stories have mostly been forgotten.  One interesting aspect of Little Sister is that she spends much of the story completely naked, even in though it is the dead of winter.  I suspect this is to remind the reader that she is, indeed, fully human.  Like artists who use nudity symbolically to communicate the child’s vulnerability, Bunch utilizes Little Sister’s nudity to show that human beings are vulnerable, even emotionally, and yet, in comparison to being fully mechanized, this vulnerability may be preferable, because at least it is still human.

I am including here both the magazine cover and the original illustration.  Unfortunately, the latter is not quite as high quality as the former, but it should be sufficient.

Ed Emshwiller - The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover)

Ed Emshwiller – The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover)

Ed Emshwiller - The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover) (detail)

Ed Emshwiller – The Mag of Fantasy & Sci-Fi (cover) (detail)

Ed Emshwiller - A Little Girl's Xmas in Modernia

Ed Emshwiller – A Little Girl’s Xmas in Modernia

Apparently there are other Moderan stories which feature these characters, including one called A Little Girl’s Spring Day in Moderan (which, unfortunately, is not included in the Moderan collection).  As a treat for you all, I am going to include the full text of the story in this post!  Enjoy!

***************************************************************************************

A Little Girl’s Xmas in Moderan

by David R. Bunch

It was in Jingle-Bell weather that Little Sister came across the white yard, the snow between her toes all gray and packed and starting to ball up like the beginnings of two snowmen. For clothing she had nothing, her tiny rump sticking out red-cold, and blue-cold, and her little-jewel knees white almost as bones. She stuck up ten stiff fingers, and she said, “Daddy! Something is wrong at my place! Come see!” She lisped a little perhaps and did not say it all as precisely as grownups, because she was just past four.

He turned like a man in the bottom third of bad dreaming; he pointed two bored eyes at her. Damn the kid, he thought. “What the hell deal has Mox got us into now?” he said. And he sang the little rhyme that made the door come open. Then as she stepped toward him he saw the snowballs on her feet. They were melting now, making deep furrows in the green rug spread across his spacious thinking room. The tall nap, like flooded grass now along little canals bending away from her feet, was speckled white here and there with crumpled paper balls. His trial plans and formulas peeped out like golf balls.

Coming back across the iron fields of nightmare that always rose to confront him at such times, he struggled to make the present’s puzzling moments into sense. Damn the kid, he thought, didn’t wipe her feet. All flesh, as yet – her own – and bone and blood, and didn’t wipe her feet. The snow melts!

He motioned her to him. “Little Sister,” he began in that tired dull-tinny voice that was his now, and must be his, because his larynx was worked all in gold against cancer, “tell me slowly, Little Sister. Why don’t you stay in your plastic place more? Why don’t you use the iron Mox more? Why do you bother me at all? Tell me slowly.”

“Daddy!” she cried and started to jig up and down in the fits that he hated so, “come over to my place, you old boogie. Something needs fixing.”

So they went across the big white yard to her place, past Mother’s place, with her snow-hurt limping and naked, and him lumbering in strange stiff-jointedness, but snug in a fire-red snuggie suit of fine insulation with good black leather space high-tops. Arrived at her place he whistled at the door the three sharp notes. The door moved into the wall and Mox the iron one stood sliding the iron sections of his arms up into one another until he had only hands hanging from shoulders. It was his greeting way. He ogled with bulb eyes and flashed his greeting code.

“What would you have done,” her father said, “if I had not come with you? You brought no whistle for the door.” Three sharp notes sprang at him from the normal holes of her head, and the heavy door rolled softly out of the wall until it shut them in the gay red-carpeted room with a Xmas tree – the father, the naked little girl and the iron Mox. And she was impishly holding the whistle between her teeth, grinning up at him. “I had it all along,” she said and dropped the whistle into the tall red grass of her room’s carpet.

She wiped the waning snowballs from her feet and sidled her icy-cold rump over toward the slits where the heat came through the wall, soft and perfumed like an island summer. Her knees turned knee-color again and her rump became no longer vari-colored cold. It became the nicest of baby-pink little-girl rumps, and she stood there a health-champion of a little miss, all flesh and bone and blood – as yet – pointing at an angle toward the ceiling. “The star!” she said. “The star has fallen down.” And he noticed that she was pointing toward the tree.

“What star?” he started to say, across the fog that always smelled like metal in his mind these last few years, and then he thought, Oh hell, she means the Xmas star. “You came across all that yard,” he asked incredulously, “to annoy me with a thing like that, when Mox – ?”

“Mox wouldn’t,” she broke in. “I asked him and asked him, but he wouldn’t. It’s been down since the fifteenth. You remember when those dumb students went home in their jets early and fast and broke the rules and shook the houses down. BOOM! and the star fell down. Just like that. Well, he’d just do silly when I asked him, like you just now saw him, just shake his arms up into his shoulders and ogle. Pretty darn dumb, if you ask me.”

“But what about your mother?”

“I asked her when I was over to her place, over a week ago. But she’s been too busy and tired. You know how Mama is, always having that plastic guy rubbing parts of her, that she says hurt, and jumping on the bed at any little thing. Sometimes I think that guy’s in love with Mama. What’s love?”

What?! What’s love? Should I tell you, did I know? Love is – is not an iron ceiling on a plastic . . . But – oh, never mind! Hell! – How’s her star?”

Twinkle twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a mama in the sky. Heard that on the programs advertising diamonds.”

“Just answer the questions. How’s her star?”

“Up real shiny, last I saw. But heck, Mama probably never even looks at her star, because that plastic guy – ”

“And Little Brother’s star?”

“Humph, Little Brother! Beat his star up about a week after we put ’em up. Said it was just what he needed for the rear end of his space tube. You know how Little Brother is about space.”

“And so yours is the only star that has fallen. Mother’s is still up, though she doesn’t have time to look at it, you think. Little Brother took his down in the interest of space. Yours just fell.”

“Daddy, where is your star, Daddy?”

He looked at her, and he thought, Damn these little girls. Always so much sentiment. And so schemy, too. He said, “I had Nugall store my star away. It’s somewhere with the tree, in a box. It interfered with my deep thinking. I’ve got to have entirely a bare room, so far as Xmas trees are concerned, for my deep thinking, if you don’t mind.”

For just a moment he thought she was going to get the sniffles. She looked at him, float-eyed, her face ready to buckle and twist into tearful complaint. But she held and stared at him more sternly, and he said, “Sure, I’ll fix the damned star for you. Drag me a chair over. And then I must rush right back to my place.” (Dangerous, this being together so much. And so old-fashioned. And besides, he had been really cooking on a formula when she burst in.) So he stood on the chair she dragged to him, and he fixed the frosti-glass star to its hook in the iron ceiling and he adjusted the star until it was almost impossible to tell that it wasn’t attached to the green plastic tree. Then he whistled at the door.

Just as he was passing through the opening, leaving, he felt something tug at a leg of the fire-red suit. Damn! It was she again. “What now?” he asked.

“Daddy!” she piped, “you know what, Daddy? I thought, what if we’d go over to Mother’s and Little Brother’s places, since it’s Xmas. And you’ve got on your red suit. Isn’t this a very special day? I’ve been hearing on the programs – ”

“No,” he said, “it isn’t a very special day. But if you want to – and you’d probably do a fit about it if you didn’t get to – come on.” So after she had put on a green snow suit, they trudged across the white yard, a strange study in old Xmas colors, and they stopped first at Little Brother’s place, who was just past five.

Dressed in a pressure suit and sturdy beyond all sense, from the weight lifting and vitamin taking and breakfast-of-champions eating, he wanted to know what the hell all the nonsense of a visit was about so early. And he let them know that Nogoff, his iron man, was taking care of everything at his place very well, thank you. Then he strode about in his muscles, sturdy beyond all meaning, and he showed them the new jet tube part he had hammered out of the star, and they left pretty soon from his surliness. On the way over to Mother’s place Little Sister suggested that she thought Little Brother thought too much about rockets and jets and space. Didn’t Father think so? Father agreed dully that maybe he did, he didn’t know, but really, could one ever think too much about rockets and jets and space?

As they walked along, over the yard to Mother’s place, she kicked up snow and chortled and laughed and told off-color jokes – she had heard them on the programs – almost like a normal little girl should. Father tracked dourly through the unmarked snow under the featureless gray sky and thought only how all this nonsense of walking so early was making the silver parts of his joints hurt, and before he’d had his morning bracer, too. Yes indeed, Father, for the most part, was flesh only in those portions that they had not found ways to replace safely. He held on grimly, walking hard, and wished he were back in his hip-snuggie thinking chair where he worked on Universal Deep Problems.

At Mother’s place they found her having one of her plasto-rubs from the plastic man, who did truly act a little odd about Mother. Do you suppose he wasn’t really all machine but was a man who had been replaced part by part until it was impossible now to tell where the man left off and the robot plastic began? Father worried about it for half a second and then dismissed it. So what if he was? What could he do to Mother? And what if he did, what would it matter? Mother – new alloys now in almost all the places.

Little sister yelled MERRY XMAS! at the top of her good flesh lungs, and Mother turned through the waist only, as though on a swivel in that portion, and Father coughed dry in the metal of his embarrassment.

“’Twas Little Sister’s idea,” he mumbled. “So sorry, Marblene. I guess Mox hasn’t been watching her programs right, her insisting on Xmas trees and all this year, and now the idea of a visit among the folks of the family. I’m sorry, Marblene.” He coughed again. “So out of date.”

Mother blazed at him from her very plain blue eyes that were almost all ‘replaced’ now. It was clear that she wished to continue her rub with the plastic man as soon as possible. “Well?” she demanded.

“That’s all,” he mumbled, “if Little Sister’s ready.” Then for some silly reason – he couldn’t explain it afterwards, unless it was because he wasn’t all ‘replaced’ yet – he said a silly thing, something that would obligate him months hence. “Do you – I mean, would you – I mean, could I,” he stammered, “could I see you a couple of minutes, maybe at Easter? Our places are just across the yard from each other, you know. Maybe when I’m all ‘replaced’ I won’t be able to walk.” He hated himself for pleading.

She airily tossed her left hand, and fluttered those fabulous ‘replaced’ plastic fingers, and great rays of light shot and quavered and streamed from rings of ‘moderne’ diamond. “Why not?” she said resignedly. “What’s to lose? If Jon’s through in time – ” Jon was her plastic man – “we’ll talk a bit on Easter.”

And so it was done, and over, and soon they were again outside in the yard. “I guess I won’t have to walk you back will I? You have your whistle, don’t you?” he said.

“No,” she said. “I dropped it in the red rug. I just remember I did. I heard it. It squished down in the wet. While the snowballs were melting. Maybe I could come to your place!”

Damn these little girls, he thought. So tricky. Always scheming. He’d have to start having her ‘replaced’ as soon as he could after Xmas.

“There’s nothing of interest at my place,” he hastened to say. “Just my hip seat and my thinking space and Nugall.” He didn’t see any use to tell her about Nig-Nag, the statue woman who wasn’t quite all metal, that he kept under the bed until he needed her so much that he had to . . . there were some things that you just didn’t tell a daughter, not until she was much older or well on the road toward being all ‘replaced.’ “Tell you what we’ll do,” he said. “I’ll walk you back to your place and I’ll whistle at the door and you can go in to Mox. Your star’s all fixed and everything. You’ve had quite a Xmas!”

So they walked back through the iron-cold snow to her place, under a sky that was rapidly thickening in a day turning black. And as her door glided open he felt so relieved that he stooped and kissed her on top of the head, and he tapped her playfully a little on her good flesh buttocks as she passed through the plastic entrance. When she was gone he stood there thinking a little while outside her house. Like an old man in the starting third of a good dreaming, he stood nodding, prompted perhaps by things from a time before the time of ‘replacements,’ wondering maybe if he had not paid some uncalculated and enormous price for his iron durability.

While he stood thus idly musing, a light high and wee came up suddenly – from eastward, from toward the coast airports – and moved fast down the murky sky toward him, gaining speed. Soon the countryside all around recoiled from a giant blow as the barrier burst. He heard Little Sister behind him scream and beg for him to come back, and he knew without looking that her star was off its iron hook again. Like some frightened monster eager to gain its lair he dug in harder with his metal feet and lumbered off across the yard to his place, anxious to rest again in his hip-snuggie chair, desirous to think further on Universal Deep Problems.

The light, unswerving, went on down the sky, high and wee, like a fleeing piece of star, like something for somewhere else in a great hurry.

 

 

 

Naked Power: Alan Moore and Winter Moran

Among aficionados of topnotch comics writing/storytelling there are few writers more famous (or more deserving of that fame) than Alan Moore.  Many of his greatest works (From Hell, A League of Extraordinary Gentleman, V for Vendetta and of course Watchmen) have been adapted to the big screen, some more successfully than others—Moore, true to character, has disavowed them all.  A quirky Brit known in the comics industry as much for his politics (and his hoariness) as for his writing, Moore is a dedicated anarchist and free speech advocate who hasn’t so much invited controversy as kidnapped it at gunpoint and forced it to deal with him.  He’s also clearly a genius.

One of Moore’s most controversial works was the erotic one-shot comic Lost Girls, co-authored and illustrated by his second wife, Melinda Gebbie.  The story took three young girls who were the protagonists of famous children’s fantasy books: Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy from Peter Pan, and explored their erotic lives.  Although it deals primarily with these characters as adults, apparently (I confess I haven’t read it), there are scenes from their childhood as well.  The story flirts with dangerous ideas and subverts the notions of innocence that we often associate with these fairy tale characters and with children in general, and consequently some booksellers will not stock it in their store for fear of an obscenity charge, perhaps recalling the rash of police raids on comics shops and bookstores that took place back in the late eighties and early nineties.  It was because of cases like these that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund formed in 1986, an organization strongly supported by Yours Truly.  (Note: The CBLDF always accepts donations, so if you feel like giving to a good cause that—like us—is on the front line in the war for freedom of speech, I recommend giving to the CBLDF!)

Less controversial (but no less provocative) was the Miracleman series, a new take on a much older character, Marvelman—indeed, in the earliest appearances of the revitalized character, he was still called Marvelman, but when the rights passed over to Eclipse Comics, the name was changed to Miracleman to avoid copyright conflicts, and many of the original issues were retrofitted with the new name and identity in republications.  Moore’s run on the series coincided with the longest and most successful era for the revamped superhero, and as you would expect from Moore, the story was much darker and more violent—way more violent—than the character’s ’50s and ’60s incarnation and deals with his origins and eventual rise to godlike power and status on Earth.  This run was eventually collected into four graphic novels, all of which I highly recommend if you can get your hands on them—unfortunately, original editions of the books are going for a pretty penny on Amazon these days.

But, I digress.  Not only was the writing on the series fascinating and challenging, the artwork in it was consistently gorgeous, done by the likes of Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, Gary Leach and my absolute favorite artist on the series, John Totleben, whose inking is superb on so many levels.  Good inking is really the key to creating good comics art; if the inking is poor, then even the best of colorists often can’t save it.  But fortunately, Totleben is one of the best, despite being partially blind.

The story of Miracleman as conceived by Moore is one that starts with a traditional origin story but then quickly flies off into the darker and more complex corners of superhero mythology.  Moore is a master at exploring the psychological motivations—good, bad and ugly—of people who routinely put on strange costumes and fight crime and/or who have superpowers.  Among superheroes, Marvelman/Miracleman is one of the most powerful, a British analogue to Captain Marvel, who was himself Marvel’s answer to Superman.  In Moore’s vision, this demigod, not content with simply catching criminals, decides to rearrange Earth to his own liking, often with spectacularly surreal results, and to set himself up as benevolent supreme ruler of the planet.  Initially this is received well by civilization because many of Earth’s biggest problems are solved by Miracleman and his equally superpowered wife, but soon the facade begins to crack.

The Golden Age era, covered by the fourth collection, was finished, but not by Moore.  His successor was perhaps the only person the equal of Moore’s particular brand of creativity and intellect, Neil Gaiman.  Grant Morrison also did some writing on the series, making it the only comics series I’m aware of that all three members of what I call the Holy Trinity of British Comics Writers—Moore, Gaiman and Morrison–worked on, though there are probably some comics fans out there who can prove me wrong.  At any rate, although never completed, Gaiman had promised to present his hero in three different eras.  With the Golden Age complete, the second era, the Silver Age, was begun by Gaiman but was never completed.  It begins to show the erosion of Miracleman’s created utopia, and also focuses more on the the characters at the peripheral and how they are impacted by their new reality.  The final arc, the Dark Age, would’ve seen the complete destruction of Miracleman’s paradise and perhaps the downfall of the character himself.  Alas, we will probably never know.

One of the more ingenious characters Moore devised for Miracleman was Winter Moran, the daughter of Michael Moran and Avril Lear, Miracleman and Miraclewoman respectively, and as soon as she’s born she proves to be not only a worthy successor but someone who might soon rival her father and mother.  Immediately upon being born she speaks perfect English and is able to fly.  Not long after that, she leaves Earth altogether for a few years.  When she returns she is four years old, still as naked as the day she was born but much, much wiser, having explored the galaxy and encountered many alien races, one of whom she married, as we will soon learn.  But that’s not the only shocking thing she did while away from Home System: she also has sex (albeit in an artificial body).  In a funny scene in Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, when Winter reveals she’s had sex, her father, who is perhaps the most powerful being on Earth at this point, reveals he is a typically worrisome parent, and for all his intelligence and prudence, he has no idea how to handle his super-precocious four-year-old daughter.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

As the scene progresses, we see that Winter is dissatisfied with her father’s “redecorations” of Earth, and this is likely intended to foreshadow Winter’s eventual rise and challenge to her father’s supremacy.  Winter, it seems, is being set up as the eventual villain of the Dark Age.  But for now she is simply a super-powered, super-intelligent 4-year-old girl who, like Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, has transcended the need for clothing.  We are aware that she has no particular attachment to human notions of modesty or conventional morality; it is perhaps a short leap from there to the understanding growing in Winter’s consciousness that humanity are as ants to her, or simply toys for her to play with as she pleases.  Or destroy.  Notice Totleben’s delicate Art Nouveau-infused work on Winter’s hair and the background designs here.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

Soon Winter is an active participant in her new world.  But what does she do?  She makes it easier and more comfortable for women to give birth to a new strain of genetically modified super-babies like herself.  Hmm, why is Winter so interested in bringing more of such children into the world?  Is she perhaps creating her own army of super-children for an eventual takeover of Earth?  Notice Winter teaching the super-babies how to fly.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

In Book Four: The Golden Age, after Neil Gaiman took over writing the series, Winter takes a backseat to another little blond super-baby, Mist, who, like Winter, tends to float around naked.  But Winter does make a prominent appearance in a peculiar way—she is the heroine of her own children’s book (which, incidentally, is being read to Mist and to her normal, non-superpowered half-brother by their mother).  The book is called Winter’s Tale and details what happened during those first few years when she traveled and explored the galaxy on her own.  The comic cleverly presents the pages of the book as part of the storyline, with occasional interjection panels where Mist, her brother and their mom discuss the book.  Here is the first page of Winter’s Tale:

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of the story deals with Winter’s meeting with the Lantiman of Sauk, who immediately asks Winter to marry him, which she does.  The context is important here—let’s remember that this is being revealed through a children’s book that exists in Miracleman’s reality, and that it is being read to two children at the same time the reader is experiencing it, one a miracle baby herself, the other not.  The Lantiman reveals forthwith that Winter is simply the newest in his collection of child-brides, and the reader understands that we are now looking at an alien pedophile, and that he is presented positively in the fictional book.

Oddly enough, Winter and the Lantiman never have physical sex.  This fact is not presented in the story, but we know it’s true because the writer points out that Winter is looking for the Qys system–she has not yet met the Qys, the hyper-advanced species that introduced her to sex, at least by Winter’s account in Olympus.  It makes sense that the Lantiman’s relationship with his child-brides is not a sexual one in any conventional sense, given that it is not bound by species, and also owing to his gigantic size, which would make sex with Winter (and presumably most or all of his child-brides) nearly impossible anyway.

So, what is this love the Lantiman has for young girls of every species that compels him to marry them if it isn’t sexual?  I reckon it is something akin to the feelings many of Pigtails’ readers feel—it is not conventionally sexual in itself, but it recognizes the holistic beauty of children, which includes their sexuality.  It is the timeless fascination that little girls hold for some adult males like myself, the recognition that they are a kind of ideal human.  Not that I would ever want to marry a little girl, but for me this blog is analogous to the Lantiman of Sauk’s marriages; it is born out of something that transcends mere beauty or sexuality or any other such physically rooted concept.

And in that light, Winter, who is herself a transcendent version of the little girl—a little girl who is near to achieving her perfect potential—is a natural fit for the Lantiman.  Unlike child-brides in traditional cultures, the Lantiman does not seek to control Winter.  Indeed, he gives her an entire planet, a world for her to play with and control.  He is apparently not interested in her merely as a physical form (though the notion that he also finds little girls physically beautiful is not excluded here); he is interested in her as a little girl who is fully able to express her every desire because of her godlike abilities.  Hence, the Lantiman’s feeling that Winter was the best bride he ever had.  Notice that when Winter is ready to leave him, he does not stop her from going.  Granted, the account is being filtered through Neil Gaiman (as the proxy writer of the children’s book) for the children of the Miracleman universe, so we may not be getting an accurate account of what actually happened between Winter and the Lantiman.

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

And now, I have something really special for you.  This is the first actual illustration of mine I’ve featured on this site, and it is my interpretation of Winter Moran.  This piece is 11″ × 14″ pen & ink on Bristol board, done mostly in pointillism (I was going for Virgil Finlay-esque), frameable, signed by me on the front and back, and it is for sale.  If you’re interested, you can contact me off the board and we will arrange something.  Meantime, I hope you enjoy it!  This is the first of what will likely be a series of pieces I plan to post here with little girls as the common theme, most of which will be offered for sale.

Edit: SOLD – Sorry, but this piece is no longer on the market.  Thank you for your interest!

Pip Starr - Winter Moran (2015)

Pip Starr – Winter Moran (2015)

RanXerox: An Idea Whose Time Has . . . Gone

The late ’70s and early ’80s were a paradoxical time.  Crime rates, including violent crime, peaked in the United States, and films had become notably darker and more violent, as well as more sexually daring in some ways.  They had even started to address child and adolescent sexuality and child sexual abuse much more directly (and, it should be said, quite often controversially here in the states).  Pretty Baby (1978), You Are Not Alone (1978), The Tin Drum (1979), Beau Pere (1981) and Pixote (1981) had all come out in this period.  As you’ll note, all but one of these were foreign releases, and the exception, Pretty Baby, had a foreign director.

Meanwhile, the precedent for America’s treatment of these themes had been set by 1976’s Taxi Driver, it seems (ironically, a film about a psychotic man who is unable to process his own attraction to a 13-year-old prostitute–played by a young Jodie Foster—and consequently goes on a violent shooting spree.)  This film, perhaps more than any other, I think encapsulates the American mindset with regard to child sexuality.  In a very real sense America is Travis Bickle, and it isn’t surprising that Jodie Foster’s character from the film eventually inspired a very real Bicklesque lunatic, John Hinckley, Jr., to make an assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life.

But film wasn’t the only medium in which Europeans explored underage sexuality.  There were also a few European comics working in this territory.   Of course, they often came with about a metric crap-ton of qualifiers and subterfuge, so as to get around censors.  Although comics are really a much better medium for addressing this topic than live-action film (given the fact that no real children need be involved), in some ways it has been even more subject to taboo than film has.  This may be because comics had traditionally been thought of as a kids’ medium, which only began to shift after the Underground Comix revolution of the late ’60s.  It was also in the late ’70s—1978 to be specific—that Europe gave birth to one of the most outrageous examples of comics dealing with underage sex, Tamburini and Liberatore’s RanXerox.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (pg. 15 - splash)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (pg. 15 – splash)

I have already mentioned how these explorations often used subterfuge to get around the censors, and RanXerox is the perfect example, for, although certain female protagonists of the series—including one of the main characters, Lubna—claimed to be 18 years old, it is visibly obvious that they are in fact much younger.  Not that there aren’t extremely tiny, nearly flat-chested 18-year-olds in real life, but what are the odds that two of them would be friends?  What’s clear here is that Stefano Tamburini and Gaetano “Tanino” Liberatore were conspiring to pull a fast one over on their readership, and for the most part they succeeded.

RanXerox got it’s start in a small Italian publication called Cannibale in 1978, but it really didn’t become well-known until the American sci-fi and erotica magazine Heavy Metal picked it up in June of 1983.  Right from the get-go the series was controversial, not only because of its blatant sexual transgression and graphic violence but also because its original title, Rank Xerox, was a dead rip-off of a very real business entity.  Eventually the title was shortened to RanXerox of course, but again, this was just a sly way to get around what was actually intended by its creators.

The story is set sometime in the future and revolves around RanXerox himself, an ultra-violent, snub-nosed musclebound cyborg constructed from parts of a copier machine (hence the name) and his precocious drug addicted girlfriend, the aforementioned Lubna.  RanXerox is a Punk Age monster, a force of unchecked violence and rage, yet he is often mistreated by his young girlfriend, the only person he loves.  She is therefore the only one who can actually tame his violent tendencies, though mostly she exploits his talents to clear obstacles from her own path.  Richard Corben, another Heavy Metal alumnus, says it best:

RanXerox is a punk, futuristic Frankenstein monster, and with the under-aged Lubna, they are a bizarre Beauty and the Beast. This artist and writer team have turned a dark mirror to the depths of our Id and we see reflected the base part of ourselves that would take what it wants with no compromise, no apology – and woe to the person who would cross us. But it is all done with a black, wry, satirical sense of humor.

But why has Corben suggested that Lubna is underage?  After all, by the third page in the very first story arc in HM we are told that Lubna has recently turned 18.  One at first wonders why it was necessary to make this fact known so soon.  But the creators didn’t stop there; there are references to both Lubna’s age and the age of her friend Martine (who sleeps with Ranx after Lubna is separated from him for a time) throughout.  It’s possible the creators were overcompensating for their own insecurities about the youthful appearance of these characters, but it’s more likely some editor or publisher insisted on it.  Ironically, the constant references to the girls’ ages only serves to draw attention to the fact that physically they are nowhere near 18, and appear to be more in the neighborhood of 12 or 13, which was obviously Tamburini’s intended age for them.

But their youth isn’t simply gratuitous.  The point was to show a future based on projections of the social and criminal trends of the time, a future in which ever-younger kids fell prey to the corrupting lure of the drugs, casual sex and general misanthropy that dominated youth culture in the late ’70s.  To reinforce this point, an even younger girl—a child no older than 3 or 4—is often seen on the street corner that Lubna and her friends haunt; she wears outfits that expose her tiny undeveloped breasts and makes obnoxious comments to Lubna and others.  She’s a little Lubna in training, another sign of the growing inverse relationship between the age and worldliness of the characters in the RanXerox universe.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (page 17, panel 4)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (page 17, panel 4)

The story begins with Lubna on the prowl for another fix of “plasma” in her home city of Rome, Italy, as she begins to feel the ache of withdrawal.  They eventually wind up in the home of the wealthy, psychic (and psychotic) painter Rainier, who gets her high and then tricks her into shutting down her robotic lover and protector.  Afterwards, he and his compatriot dump Ranx’s inanimate body near the Colosseum and kidnap Lubna for purposes unknown.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (page 20, panel 4)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 4 (July, 1983) (page 20, panel 4)

As it turns out, Rainier has plans for both Ranx and Lubna, using the former (after tampering with Ranx’s head) to kill an entire club full of people, though the real target is an art critic Rainier despises who happens to be at the club at the time.  But there’s a notable scene just before the massacre where a small girl offers a rose for sale to Ranx, only to be met with a particularly brutal response from the still-malfunctioning robot, whose impulse control has been compromised.  It’s scenes like these that earned RanXerox its notoriety.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 5 (August, 1983) (page 51, panel 8)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 5 (August, 1983) (page 51, panel 8)

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 5 (August, 1983) (page 52, panel 1)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 5 (August, 1983) (page 52, panel 1)

It’s eventually revealed that Rainier has the notion to use Lubna as part of an art piece to be titled Cadaver of a Young Drug Addict.  But of course, Ranx comes smashing into his apartment and breaks his neck, even though Lubna isn’t there.  It’s striking that the first major villain of the initial story arc is a pretentious modern artist who makes ridiculous amounts of money off his meaningless art, and Liberatore, a mere comics artist in many people’s eyes, no doubt relished seeing Rainier meet his end at the hands of his and Tamburini’s creation.

With Lubna now missing and Ranx still hunting for her, he temporarily hooks up with Lubna’s friend Martine, who appears to be about the same age as Lubna.  They have sex at Martine’s place, and the girl, a student of Bioelectronics, at last repairs his busted brain.  It’s noteworthy that in some reprints of these stories this scene was heavily censored.  Particularly bothersome to the censors was the appearance of Ranx’s penis.  Their tryst is interrupted by the sudden intrusion of Martine’s insanely jealous and abusive boyfriend outside her door, but Ranx makes short work of him with a single well-placed punch . . . through the door.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 22)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 22)

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 23)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 23)

Later, as Martine is changing the battery in Ranx’s back, a group of street thugs make a particularly conspicuous comment about her age, with one of them mistaking her for a 12-year-old and another correcting him.  Later the group plans to gang rape the girl, with one of them commenting, “I bet she’s got an ass on her as tender as a filet.”  Ranx, of course, doesn’t go for that.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 25, panel 5)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 6 (September, 1983) (page 25, panel 5)

After several violent episodes and a lot of traveling around the city, Ranx eventually finds that Lubna is being held prisoner by a wealthy, leather mask-wearing man named Volare and goes after her, only to be captured by Volare, who intends to use the robot to stage a Fred Astaire routine as part of a retrospective on the famous dancing actor.  His speech to Ranx amusingly references Heavy Metal, the very magazine the story is running in.  It seems Tamburini was doing meta before meta was cool.  Meanwhile, Lubna is watching a cartoon with a bird character who proclaims, “Goddamn it!”  A quite prescient observation when one considers the popularity of shows like Family Guy, South Park and American Dad today.  (Remember, this series was published in the early ’80s.)  Here it’s just another sign of the decadence and social decline of the future.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 57, panels 1 & 2)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 57, panels 1 & 2)

By now Lubna has bought into Volare’s promises of wealth and fame and blatantly manipulates Ranx by appealing to his love for her (not to mention giving him a hand-job) as they fly to New York in Volare’s private plane!

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 58)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 58)

Ranx agrees to this as long as Lubna can stay with him, but Lubna betrays her robot mate by remaining with Volare while Ranx is training, ostensibly so as not to distract him but more likely because she is attracted to Volare’s wealth and power.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 59, panels 5 & 6)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 59, panels 5 & 6)

After 24 hours, which is all Ranx’s electronic brain needs to memorize Astaire’s entire song-and-dance oeuvre, Ranx and Lubna are at last reunited, with Lubna ironically behaving very much like a child.  Observant readers will note that she is listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 60, panel 4)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (November, 1983) (page 60, panel 4)

In the final issue of the first story arc, Lubna seems to have age-regressed not only behaviorally but even physically.  She may be attracted to Volare, though more than likely it’s just the drugs talking.  While Ranx is performing in the show, she attempts to seduce her abductor in a scene that is likely to send shudders down the spines of anti-abuse and anti-human trafficking advocates everywhere.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 9 (December, 1983) (page 35)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 9 December, 1983) (page 35)

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (December, 1983) (page 36)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 8 (December, 1983) (page 36)

While Ranx is performing, Lubna attempts to seduce Volare; unfortunately for her, Ranx notices.  He stops the show and smashes his way to Volare’s balcony box.  Violence ensues.  The object of his hatred is destroyed, yet Ranx is profoundly affected by this last and worst of Lubna’s many betrayals and, atypically for him, stands up to her abuse in a humorously inappropriate way that symbolically acknowledges her true age: he gives her a bare behind spanking.

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox - Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 9 (December, 1983) (page 39)

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox – Heavy Metal, Vol. 7 No. 9 (December, 1983) (page 39)

For something so controversial, RanXerox has had its influence on other creators, most notably manifest in a surreal French fantasy film called La Cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, which really deserves its own article on Pigtails in Paint.  The physical resemblance of One and Miette to Ranx and Lubna cannot be overstated.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro - Ron Perlman and Judith Vittet in 'The City of Lost Children' (1995)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro – Ron Perlman and Judith Vittet in ‘The City of Lost Children’ (1995)

RanXerox is a role that was made for Ron Perlman, if it could ever be filmed.  Of course, it can’t.  Indeed, the environment is such today that even a comics magazine like Heavy Metal likely wouldn’t dare repeat it.  It’s a concept whose time has gone.  Or has it?  There have been sexually precocious minors in comics since RanXerox‘s time, though, to my knowledge, rarely without some built-in moral consequence, where bad things befall the child and/or the adult involved with them, or they are clearly the product of sexual abuse.  Yet, in its way, RanXerox may be the most moral story of all of these, for I imagine few people can read it without being repulsed by the characters’ behavior somewhere down the line.  These are not people we would likely ever want to meet, and that may be Tamburini’s point.  When you imagine a future filled with these blatantly immoral folks, you can see that Ranx and Lubna’s world is a true dystopia, one created not by government oppression but by gradual desensitization and moral erosion of the populace.

Tamburini might’ve believed this was where we were headed as a society.  Of course, he was wrong.  Reality never follows so straight a path.  As for Tamburini himself, only three short years after the first run of RanXerox in Heavy Metal (1986) his lifeless body was discovered in his apartment in Rome.  He had apparently died from a heroin overdose.  He was 30 years old at the time of death.

In addition to the HM runs, this series has been collected into books (three major volumes) and translated into several languages.  Here is the cover for one of them, RanXerox 2: Happy Birthday, Lubna.

Tanino Liberatore - Ranx 2: Happy Birthday, Lubna (cover)

Tanino Liberatore – Ranx 2: Happy Birthday, Lubna (cover)

And a cover for the Spanish comics magazine El Víbora (The Viper), featuring Ranx, Lubna, Martine, the toddler girl from the street corner (who Lubna sometimes babysits and whose name I do not know), and another girl I don’t recognize.

Tanino Liberatore - El Víbora, No. 47 (cover)

Tanino Liberatore – El Víbora, No. 47 (cover)

An unidentified image of Lubna working on Ranx:

Tanino Liberatore - RanXerox

Tanino Liberatore – RanXerox

And just for the hell of it, let’s throw in an illustration of these characters by Paul Pope.  You’ll note that Pope also did a tribute illustration to Moebius’s short story The Apple Pie.

Paul Pope - Ranxerox and Lubna

Paul Pope – Ranxerox and Lubna

You can read the entire first story arc and a handful of the other RanXerox issues (as well as most of the early issues of Heavy Metal) at this site.  The first story arc runs from issue v07 #04 (July 1983) through issue v07 #09 (December 1983); there’s also a great interview with Liberatore in that December ’83 issue.

Further Reading:

Wikipedia: RanXerox

URBAN ASPIRINES: RANXEROX: By Tanino Liberatore and Stefano Tamburini

Comic Vine: RanXerox (Character)