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Religion and spirituality are not subjects that have figured heavily into the world of American comics. When they have, traditionally, it’s been either in the form of evangelism (i.e. Jack Chick’s hardcore proselytizing pamphlets), straightforward adaptation (Picture Stories from the Bible and Robert Crumb’s by-the-numbers version of Genesis) or nose-thumbing iconoclasm (Winshluss’s In God We Trust being a recent example). Rare is the comic or cartoonist that attempts to grapple with issues of theology — or at least Western theology — in the modern world.

Not Chester Brown, though. While far from being the central focus of his bibliography, Brown has long been fascinated with exploring and questioning Christian doctrine, especially when it dovetails with sexuality. It’s a fascination that comes to a head in his latest work, Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus: Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible.

More… “Chester’s Christian Comics”

By day, Chris Mautner is the mild-mannered social media producer for PennLive.com. By night, he writes about really nerdy things for The Comics Journal … and this site. He is ¼ of the podcast Comic Books Are Burning in Hell.
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Prostitutes were the big difference in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s life. When he lived in Dresden he showed definite artistic talent but he didn’t have anything in particular to say. His paintings and drawings weren’t yet fully his own. He was still learning about the world and still learning about his own talent.

Then, in 1911, he moved to Berlin. He quickly acquainted himself with the new Berlin prostitutes. They were out there in the streets, roaming, hunting. He was out there too, alone with his sketchpad. He was watching the movement of people in the late night air, a certain flickering of the streetlights along Potsdamer Platz. His sketches from that period take on a mania. The lines are flying all over the page. Kirchner is after something now, a specific tempo and density, a tightening of perspective… More…

 

If the Olympic Village descends into orgiastic debauchery this summer — as it did during the 2004 Olympics, when 130,000 free condoms were given away along with 30,000 sachets of lubricant, or during the 2000 Sydney Games, when the Durex supply had to be supplemented with an emergency shipment of 20,000 extras — athletes in Beijing will be only be upholding the finest traditions of classical Greece. Back in Plato’s day, sex and sport were always intertwined: In classical gymnasiums, Greeks competed stark naked beneath a statue of Eros, and the workout rooms were prime pick-up spots. In the first Olympic Village — an enclave in the rural city of Elis where, every fourth year, the cream of ancient athletes gathered for 30 days before the Games — this lusty atmosphere reached a frenzied pitch, with groupies arriving… More…

I can’t stop thinking that Eliot Spitzer’s downfall is extraordinary in its Oedipal dimensions. I don’t mean this in the Freudian sense, but in the classical. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex a man, Oedipus, attempts to engineer his own fate in the face of a terrible prophecy. In the end, Oedipus comes to realize that his own actions, meant to liberate him from this course of fate, have been the agents of its realization. He declares:

No human hand but mine has done this deed.

What need for me to see,

When nothing’s left that’s sweet to look upon?

It has been noted again and again in the Spitzer story that ironies abound, multiplying quicker than they can be sorted out. This is a man who seemingly went out of his way to commit a crime that A) he would eventually get caught doing and, B) that he would have no… More…

While today a certain type of traveler heads for Las Vegas, Havana, or Bangkok, in the 18th century, Paris was the unrivaled sin city of Europe. Even the uproar of the 1789 revolution, which was initially supported by many French aristocrats, only helped promote its hedonistic reputation — at least until the Terror of 1793-4 squelched tourism.

No sooner had the Bastille fallen than the capital was flooded with foreigners, curiosity-seekers, and political delegates from the French provinces, all looking to enjoy carnal delights while they savored the newly-democratic ambiance. To help out-of-town gentlemen navigate the underbelly of the city — and to control the problem of over-charging — a unique and practical guidebook was quickly published for those seeking prostitutes in the Palais Royal, the enormous entertainment complex that doubled as a red-light district. Today, this pocket-sized opus — List of Compensation for the Ladies of the Palais Royal,… More…

Nothing gets a classical scholar’s heart pumping like the sacred prostitutes of Corinth, the Greek port that is depicted as the free-living “Amsterdam of the ancient world.” After landing at the Corinthian docks, sailors would apparently wheeze up the thousand-odd steps to the top of a stunning crag of rock called the Acrocorinth, which offered 360-degree vistas of the sparkling Mediterranean. There they would pass beneath the marble columns of the Temple of Aphrodite, goddess of Beauty and Love, within whose incense-filled, candlelit confines 1,000 comely girls supposedly worked around the clock gathering funds for their deity. Since the Renaissance, this idea had gripped antiquarians, who liked to imagine that congress with one of Aphrodite’s servants offered a mystical union with the goddess herself — uninhibited pagans coupling in ecstasy before her statue in the perpetual twilight of the temple.

In fact, this lusty vision of Corinth was created entirely… More…