History of Vibrators Reference Material

Last week my “History of Vibrators” guest comic for Erika Moen‘s fabulous Oh Joy Sex Toy was posted, and many of you seemed to enjoy it. I’m so glad! I had a really fun time researching this topic. Most of my information came from Dr. Rachel P. Maines’ book, The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, which I recommend to anyone interested in further exploring this subject matter.

I found a lot of great photo-references of crazy contraptions while I was working on this. Many vintage vibrators came with several, sometimes terrifying-looking, attachments referred to as “nodes.” Some of the older ones were hand-crank operated! I suggest that anyone entertained by the following images visit antiquevibratormuseum.comvibratormuseum.com, or vintagevibrators.com for more.

Possibly more entertaining than the vibrators themselves were all of the vintage advertisements for them that used to be featured in women’s magazines. These ads typically showed women applying the vibrator to their faces, and billed them as health/beauty devices (most people knew what they were really for, though).

It was interesting (albeit a little depressing) to trace the development of vibrator technology in conjunction with the social awareness and acceptance of female sexuality. When vibrators were first invented, it was to treat women with “hysteria,” a nonsense diagnosis that included many symptoms now recognized as normal emotional and sexual behaviors. Using vibrators to bring women to “paroxysms” wasn’t considered a sexual practice because people didn’t believe women had orgasms. The only type of activity that was considered sexual involved penetration, so stimulating a woman with a vibrator was thought of as simply a medical procedure.

By the time these things became household products, people were a little more aware of the concept of female sexuality, but no one was talking about it. Once they started showing up in porn films in the 1920s, magazines dropped the ads because it became impossible to deny the vibrators’ actual purpose. If you haven’t already, you can read all about this and more in my guest comic for Oh Joy Sex Toy. While you’re there, I encourage you to check out the rest of the site! It’s a terrific series.

New Comic on Oh Joy Sex Toy!

I’m very excited to share with all of you a guest strip that I created for Erika Moen‘s phenomenal series Oh Joy Sex ToyFor anyone unfamiliar, Erika is a rockstar cartoonist with two very successful webcomics under her belt (if you haven’t already, go check out DAR and Bucko immediately), but I think Oh Joy Sex Toy is her crowning achievement so far. It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s educational – it’s got everything, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute!

My guest comic outlines the hysterical history of vibrators: their journey from the doctor’s office to the nightstand drawers of today! Did you know?? The first vibrators were quack medical devices used to treat a nonexistent disease in women. Fun fact! In 1869, an American physician patented a coal-fired, steam-powered vibrator called “The Manipulator.” All this and more when you go read my new comic at ohjoysextoy.com (NSFW, obviously).

If you finish reading my comic and would still like to learn more about the history vibrators, I highly recommend Dr. Rachel P. Maines’ book, The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction which was an incredibly valuable resource when I was doing research for this piece. I also recommend that those of you in the Bay Area check out Antique Vibrator Museum, located at the Good Vibrations Polk Street store in San Francisco.

If you’d like to learn more about present-day vibrators, check out the archives of Oh Joy Sex Toy. Erika and her other contributors are quite knowledgable, and give excellent advice.

Lake Nyos Disaster Reference Photos

I’ve been pretty quiet around here lately. Much of my time this semester has been spent focusing on teaching; I’ve found that I have significantly less time to work on comics than I would like, and even less time to spend writing apologetic blog updates for my lack of progress. Never fear, however! I have been making comics, albeit slowly. In a few weeks, my summer will begin, and I will be making comics with a vengeance and updating my blog like crazy (well, maybe not too crazy). So stay tuned.

For now, I thought I’d share with you some reference photos I used while working on a recent piece about the Lake Nyos disaster. The story will appear in issue #4 of the comic anthology Irene, which will be published this spring. If you’re not familiar with Irene I suggest you purchase issue #3 and check it out. It’s a fabulous series and I am thrilled to be able to contribute.

Nyos is a crater lake in northwestern Cameroon. If you’ve ever heard of it, it was almost certainly in reference to a tragic natural disaster in 1986, in which CO2 that had built up in the lake over time was suddenly released in a giant gas cloud, known as a limnic eruption.

The gas cloud spilled into the adjacent valleys, killing over 1,700 people and countless animals. In a few cases, the populations of nearby villages were almost entirely wiped out, with only a handful of survivors.

I think one of the more horrific aspects of this tragedy not adequately captured in these photos would be the disorienting silence that must have filled the valleys. Surviving residents of these villages would have been accustomed to the constant hum of thousand of insects, birds, and other animals inhabiting the area. Most of these creatures would have been killed by the gas cloud, making the aftermath of the eruption all the more unsettling.

Survivors of this event were evacuated to nearby hospitals and resettlement camps. Some of the hardest-hit villages still haven’t been repopulated.

I find this story to be both depressing and horrific; the fact that a person can wake up to find their families, livelihoods, and entire communities gone is panic-inducing. Limnic eruptions are very uncommon, and I would imagine that for many survivors, at least at first, it would have been unclear as to exactly what had happened. I think if I saw every living thing around me asphyxiating for no discernible reason, I might be inclined to think the world was ending.

This story is pretty dark, even by my standards, but hopefully not so dark that you’re unable to enjoy it. Here’s a sample page from the piece:

Look for my story about the Lake Nyos disaster in the upcoming issue of Irene, set to debut at TCAF this year.

My Photo Booth is Full of Weird Reference Selfies

I’ve been talking to my students about using photo reference a lot lately, and about how useful it can be to pose, or get a friend to pose, for photos. I pulled some of my own reference photos as examples and ended up going through the entire history of the Photo Booth application on my laptop. I’d say about 95% of it is ridiculous pictures I’ve taken of myself to use as drawing reference, which are hilarious out of context:

The majority of these pictures are of specific hand gestures, because hands – they are tricky things.

There are also a lot of shots of me making faces, photos of the back of my head, or just weird scenes I acted out that I now can’t even remember why exactly or for which project they were intended.

I have literally hundreds of photographs like this, comprising of almost my entire Photo Booth history. Like any other self-respecting citizen of the internet, the remaining 5% of my pictures are mostly selfies taken with my cat.

Because, obviously.

Some Process Photos From Winterbreak

It’s been rather quiet around here lately; I’m terrible, I know. The beginning of a new semester has kept me pretty busy, but I have been working sporadically on new comics so you can all keep yours eyes peeled for those in the near future! Over the winter break, I spent time working on a submission for on upcoming anthology, and a guest strip for a friend’s webcomic. Here’s  a sketchy little pencil drawing from the anthology contribution:

I had planned on spending some quality time with my family and friends in Illinois before heading home to get some work done, but unfortunately I had terrible timing! Just when I was ready to head  back to Kansas, we got hit with the dread Polar Vortex, and suddenly we were covered in heaps of snow and throwing boiling water out of our windows to watch it freeze before it hit the ground. No fun (well, maybe a little fun).

Fortunately, I had essentially packed up my whole studio and brought it to Illinois with me, so I cleared off some space on my mother’s sewing table and set up shop in her basement for a few days (thanks, Mom!).

I inked fourteen pages while I was at my mom’s! Here’s a picture of some dead cows I drew while I was there:

The anthology contribution I finished over the break involved a lot of dead animals/people (which I suppose doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with my work).

I’ve also been experimenting with using greywash on a separate sheet on paper, so I can adjust the levels separately after I scan them into Photoshop. I’ve been somewhat pleased with the results so far.

I’ll get into more detail on the comics I wrapped up over the break in a future post! At the moment, I am currently doing research for yet another short project! If you would like to see process photos like these on a semi-regular basis, you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram!