The Erotic Adventures Of Space Babe 113 is quite a remarkable comic book. A small press mainstay on the British comics scene by self publisher John Maybury, it was recently collected in full and and republished in paperback from by Soaring Penguin Press.
Which gave me the opportunity to talk about what a strange and wonderful comic this really is.
The title belies its influences, the Barbarellas, the Dejah Thorises, the space vixens of Mars stranded on the asteroid of Pulptopia being assaulted by slobbering lizard men, only to be rescued by Flash Harry from Iowa.
But rather than aiming for the photo realism, or unrealism common in such tales, Space Babe 113 chooses a very different visual approach. Close to the graffiti line of Vaughn Bode, it rejects much definition of space and form, using negative space to define character’s physiques, with facial identification reduced to one or two lines, with bodies and more importantly hair, bulging out with minimal lines to hit the none-existing panel borders. This is not a comic for splash pages with barely dressed women lounging on alien landscapes, here we have twelve panel grids with all the action crammed into those tiny spaces, so there’s hardly any room for the male gaze to grapple with sexual exploitation, just divorced body parts too small to make enough of an impact. Not in that way at least.
However, the comic is incredibly sex-themed. Whether that be sentient underwear attacking, or working in symbiosis with its owner, or the debate about whether sexual contact with a plant species counted as infidelity or masturbation, this comic is obsessed. It just does it in a very unexpected way.
And that’s how Space Babe 113 makes its impact, telling a female positive sex space opera story while rejecting the possibility that it could tap into negative visual tropes by accident, by designing a style and design structure that would make this impossible.
But for all that, it creates a eroticism on the page as promised, one of suggestion of teases, of accidental glimpses, rather than anything full blown. As it were. Because these are not the Pornographic Adventures, these are erotic ones, and it’s all about the tease. And also all manner of very silly jokes.
Highly recommended or those of you who like Adam Warren‘s Empowered but wish there was a little more space action….