Pop Comic Review – Oh Joy Sex Toy vol. 4

HEY LISTEN UP GUYS THIS COMIC’S  *NSFW*, INCLUDING THE COVER

‘Erika & Matthew think the world of sex is fantastic.
Using comedy, real-life experiences, and research, they create some the best educational, informative, sex-positive comics around. (The puns are an added bonus!)
In this fourth volume, they tackle a variety of interesting topics, including sex toys, what to expect at a gynecologist visit, the question of “what even IS sex?”, and STI testing. In addition, an entire third of the book is dedicated to showcasing guest cartoonists with their unique experiences and perspectives about sex, covering topics from body image to fursuiting to pegging, to name a few!
Every volume of Oh Joy Sex Toy is a stand-alone adventure into the world of sex, so whether you’ve collected the other volumes or not, this book is a great fit on any shelf!’

Written by: Erika Moen, Matthew Nolan, plus some guest writers

Art by: Erika Moen (inks), Matthew Nolan (colours), plus some guest artists

Publisher: Erika Moen

Released: 8 November 2017

 

WARNING – WARNING – ALERT – BE YE WARNED: 18+ AND MEGA SEXUAL CONTENT

Erika Moen

 

You might have guessed from the sex toys on the cover’s background, but this one contains graphic, explicit nudity and sex (and a bit of swearing and a lot of genitalia slang), and the review itself is going to be talking about sex stuff. I don’t usually cover NSFW adult comics (says the person who reviewed a comic about Brazilian sex workers not long ago; though it contained sex scenes it was nowhere as explicit as this), but this one was too great. The Oh Joy Sex Toy website has been running for years, doing reviews of sex toys in comic form, and being very entertaining. I’d heard only good of it, but it didn’t really seem like my thing, so I never checked it out myself. I’d also heard of Moen’s old webcomic Dar but hadn’t read it either; she’s basically well-respected in webcomic circles. I’m really glad this volume came up for review and gave me a closer look at OJST though, because I can understand why so many people have been recommending this comic until now – it’s educational, entertaining, and very . . . well, joyful.

The volume is made up of over 50 comic strips (each one a couple of pages), mostly involving the series’ basis of sex toy reviews, but it also includes a couple of related media reviews and an interview, plus heaps of general sex education; just in this volume there are comics covering various kinks and fetishes as well as general sex education stuff for once you’re beyond ‘how babies are made’ and basic contraception. One of the founding principles of the comic is sex positivity, which (if you’ve never heard the term) very basically means promoting the attitude that sex is fun and good, as opposed to shameful and never to be spoken of aloud, regardless of how you do it as long as everyone involved is consenting.

While the reviews themselves are entertaining to read (more on that in a bit), what really makes OJST shine is that extra content. Sex positivity is rooted in being informed, after all; it’s easy to say “ew, yuck” to a kink you’ve only heard misinformed rumours of, and you can’t really consent to something you don’t know much about. Alongside reviews of the various vibrators and other things, in this volume you can learn about the anatomy of a penis and its workings, women’s pelvic exams, definitions of sex, and more. The guest strips go over different fetishes and things like genital piercings and even relationships and mental illness. All the strips are drawn as short narratives, which is part of what makes the toy reviews so entertaining too, involving diverse and enthusiastic characters in pairs, groups, or on their own, to converse with our narrator (Moen or Nolan) and demonstrate goods, ideas, and talking points.

Erika Moen

 

Moen’s simple and accessible style helps sell it; there’re minimal backgrounds because the focus is on the people, and said people’s actions are clear. While the character design is clean, simple and always on model, there’s often close-ups of genitals, what with that being the point of the comic, and they are more detailed. It’s clear Moen knows her stuff, and the characters and narrators climbing around the pages and genitals while they talk bring a smile to the face. When I said the characters were diverse I wasn’t kidding; after all, people of all shapes, sizes, sexualities, colours and abilities enjoy sex, and they’re all included. Nolan’s colours are so understated and complementary they risk being overlooked; shades and textures of muted pinks, with occasional browns, pale teals, blues, yellows, or other colours for variety and drawing focus, make each page calm, clear, and inviting for new readers who might be a bit nervous about diving into such a specifically… raunchy comic.

This makes the comic medium such a good fit for it; while it makes it hard to hide what you’re reading if you’re around other people (reeeaaaallllyyyy NSFW), the fact that it’s made up of easy visible guides and references makes it easier, not to mention the more visual feeling of someone who loves their job telling you about it while full of smiles. It’s not meant to be titillating, just realistic, conversational, and informative, which is a hard line to balance for such pornographic subject matter and images, but Moen and Nolan make sure it all works really well. Depending on your attitude to sex, it might bring a blush to the face, but the detailed subject matter illustrations and cheerful characters make it easy to digest, making it a great intro into the sex industry and all things to do with sex as a fun activity.

I honestly didn’t expect to read all of this volume when I started, especially when the sex toy illustrations started on page 2, but before I knew it I’d stayed up well past my bedtime reading until I’d finished it. Reviews of products I had no interest in were engaging, sex education stuff – whether physical or social – was fascinating, and the writing and artwork made it all feel personal and welcoming. I immediately went and checked out the website too, which covers more of the same stuff; which as you have no doubt gathered by now, means a wide variety. Informative positive resources like this are actually pretty important, with school sex education being so varied in quality (or even non-existent. You hear horror stories from the USA about bad sex ed, but did you know there’s no requirement, let alone standard, for sex education in Australian schools?) it’s no surprise there’s a lot of adults in the world who’ve grown up being told that sex is something shameful or only being told how babies are made, with not a hint of the full spectrum of interpersonal relationships and activities sex encompasses. Talking about sex toys might seem pretty tangential to that, but that alone helps create an attitude of it being something that people do and that it’s OK to talk about it and try new things. The fact that OJST has so much more makes it one hell of a resource, plus pointing you to other resources as well (they’re now partly funded by a Planned Parenthood association). You should check it out for entertainment or mind expansion, but be prepared to blush if a big illustration of a dragon-themed dildo will do that to you.

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