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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
Rip Off Comix #27
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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Back Cover
Back Cover
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Only Printing / Summer 1990 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
The theme of "Sex Sells!" is an enticing tease on the cover of Rip Off Comix #27. With all the great comic writers and artists at Rip Off's disposal, we anticipate a brazen issue with plenty of audacious wit and insightful commentary about how the advertising industry exploits sex to make profits! Or at the very least, some provocative stories that expose how men and women are easily seduced into pursuing media-driven ideals of sexual charisma (fostered by everything from Playboy to Estee Lauder) while disdaining the highly imperfect yet fundamental sexuality that drives every one of us.

Yeah, well, hold your horses. The comics within are an odd collection, some of which address sex in advertising or illuminate how the promise of sexual power is almost universally alluring, yet the sum of the parts don't seem to entirely deliver on the promised theme. Overall, it's still a very entertaining issue, but you should keep an open mind when you read it.

At the very least, more of an open mind than that of Paul Mavrides when he wrote the opening article on the inside cover (linked in the right sidebar), which makes one valid point after another about sex in the media despite his own rampant stereotyping, misanthropy, and woeful underestimation of comic-book readers (especially Rip Off Comix readers).

It annoys me how Mavrides leads off the article with a supposedly hot-and-sexy writing passage and then pulls the rug out from under us, saying it actually had nothing to do with sex. Ha-ha, Mavrides laughs at us as he crows, "got your attention anyway though, huh?" Well yes, you did, but only because we do pay attention to what we're reading. But no, we weren't especially riveted to your prose, because we instantly knew it was the "cheap trick" you admitted you were trying to pull on us. And frankly, it was pretty lame erotica anyway.

Like I said, many of the positions Mavrides takes in his article are often true, sometimes painfully so, but almost nothing he says is news to us, so why must he be so sanctimonious when regurgitating them? I understand he may be frustrated by the brain capacity of the lowest common denominator of his fan base, but is there any reason to lecture them while insulting his more enlightened readers?

No kidding, Paul, sex sells. So does violence, tobacco, alcohol and fatty foods, and they're all worse for us than some cheap erotica. I know, the theme of this issue is "sex sells," but instead of taking on the big boys on Madison Avenue, you'd rather tell us how we (the people who buy your creative output) "take the easy way out" with our fantasies and beat off to "any old trash that has a photo of gigantic tits or a cute round ass." Brother, you just went from a cheap trick to a cheap shot. Trust me, Paul, my sexual fantasies involve much more than any old trash. And I don't even like gigantic tits.

Don't get me wrong. Mavrides' article is well written, funny, and (once again) makes salient points about the media profiting from our obsession with sex. And I understand how the porn industry panders to its lowest common denominator with some of the most ludicrous depictions of sexual activity imaginable. But I would defend every pixel of almost all forms of pornography because it is our right to pursue happiness through any form of free speech that our great country pretends to protect through its Constitution.

Whoa, I am slipping into another argument altogether. But it bothers me that Mavrides belittles the nature of lust and the visual cues of male sexual stimulation while simultaneously whining that he can't sell enough of his own "intellectually complex comics" (my words) to buy (his words:) "a big, expensive house and a brand-new, gas-guzzling German luxury car and vacations in Europe." Yeah, Paul, you're right to admit that "You caveboys win." If money is your objective, go ahead and produce comics that make you a "famous pornographer." Then you can laugh at the people who buy your porn at the same time you lament how sex sells.

I know that Mavrides has his tongue partially in cheek as he declares he's ready to cash in on the porn angle. We know he's never done that, and most of us are glad he didn't. But the contempt he shows for everything erotic is rather disturbing to me, even when he couches his vitriol under the umbrella of scolding the media for exploiting sex for profits. Perhaps this is all my fault, because I live in a country that is so puritanical in its viewpoint of human sexuality that I would defend the exploitation of sex for any purpose, much less advertising.

One more thing before I move on. Mavrides mentions Tits & Clits (which he calls Teats and Cleats) as one of the trashy sex titles that outsell the "socially responsible, politically correct" titles that he's trying to sell. Hey Paul, have you actually read even one issue of the very feminist and women-produced Tits & Clits? Quite obviously not. So shut the fuck up if you're that ignorant about a publication you're attempting to ridicule.

Wow, that was quite a rant on a comic-book article from 1990. Now I barely have room to write my review. Well, yes I do, my reviews can run as long as I fucking well please. Calming myself down as I type....

Editor Kathe Todd valiantly tries to mitigate Mavrides' diatribe with her introduction to the Table of Contents (also linked in the right sidebar), and she wisely does it with tongue firmly in cheek, promising "exciting, sexy pieces" and declaring "I know what your really like!" And the stories that follow back her up to some degree, even when some of them miss the target of the issue's stated theme.

The opening story, "One Hump or Two?" by Carol Lay, might be the comic that comes closest to addressing the theme of "sex sells." It examines the alleged use of subliminal sexual imagery in the Camel cigarette package, including both the packaging and the "Joe Camel" advertising icon (since dropped by R.J. Reynolds). There's a good Snopes article about this imagery, but Lay's story tells you most of what you need to know.

R. Diggs' "Hairydick's Woman" doesn't address commercial advertising, but it does look at how the sexual allure of women is irresistable to men, even if it means they must suffer to satisfy their impulses. The story portrays a King-Kong-size woman in a village of only men and how one man becomes obsessed with copulating with the woman despite all warnings from his fellow villagers. Yet the villagers also know that somebody has to take a crack at the beast, since she's the only one who can procreate and ensure their future survival. It's a funny story and does depict the all-powerful allure of the pussy.

Mike Bannon's "Oombah, Jungle Moon Man" is a four-page burlesque about a man who, in sympathy of a friend, becomes so annoyed by the silly brand names given to condoms he heads out to New York City to change the industry's marketing. This leads to an absurd little parody of a superhero/villain battle that Bannon wisely truncates in a visually inventive manner. "Oombah" is rife with amusing side jokes and word play that elevate the overall story.

"Chiffon Manor, Tausha's Story," written by Adam Burchess and illustrated by Nicola Cuti, is an ambitious nine-page story about prostitution and the moralists who wish to eradicate it. Though prostitution is an appropo topic for a comics anthology with the theme of "sex sells," this story is more about societal condemnation of good people because they work in a morally dubious industry. However you define "Tausha's Story," it seems to truly believe that narrow minds can yet be salvaged if only they could be shown how their perceived enemies share the same essential spirit of empathy.

Joshua Quagmire delivers "Wyndi the Jail Bait Witch," an eight-pager that features a 14-year-old witch in Los Angeles trying to lose her virginity despite the sudden appearance of a guardian angel (of apparently similar age). Wyndi's quest is foiled once by the angel, but she's finally about to get her wish when she's foiled again by a wholly unexpected apparition. "Wyndi" is a good example of how easy it was to write sexy stories about horny, teenage virgins (or sluts, e.g., Cherry) three decades ago. Nowadays everybody associated with this story would be arrested for child pornography.

There are several other two-to-four-page comics in this issue that interpret the positive side of masturbation, misleading advertising for live sex shows, the Christian Right's attempt to pare back our sexual freedoms, and the dangers of sexually transmitted disease. Plus there's a couple of Fat Freddy's Cat one-pagers and a brief Uncle Joe strip from Quagmire. Only one of these even remotely ties into the "sex sells" theme of this issue, but most of them are decent comics anyway.

As long as you understand what you're getting, Rip Off Comix #27 is a pretty solid comic magazine. And by all means, read the Mavrides article on the inside front cover and draw your own conclusions. He's a brilliant artist and a very sharp mind; but you bet I'm making some other judgments about him after reading what he wrote here.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Like other magazine-format comics with numbered pages, the index of comic creators below follows the page numbers defined in the magazine instead of counting the covers as additional numbered pages.


Kathe Todd - editor, 1 (introduction)
Bruce Bolinger - front cover
Paul Mavrides - inside front cover (article)
unknown - 1 (art - could this be Kathe Todd's stab at cartooning?)
Carol Lay - 2-3
R. Diggs - 4-12
Judy Becker - 13-14
Mike Bannon - 15-18
Lyndal Ferguson - 19-20
Nicol Cuti - 21-29 (art)
Adam Burchess - 21-29 (script)
Bill Pearson - 21-29 (lettering)
Joshua Quagmire - 30-37, 48, back cover
F. Tubbins - 30-37 (inks)
Angela Bocage - 38-41
Tom Roberts - 42-43 (collaboration)
Jim Siergy - 42-43 (collaboration)
Jorge Pacheco - 44-45
Gilbert Shelton - 46-47