Whenever the concept behind something I review is particularly absurd, I like to quote the press release rather than try to explain it myself (Then I send it back to you and remind you that you're not supposed to do that, and two weeks later, you blithely do it again and act like it's a "technique" thing. Fucker. -- Ed). That way, you know my writing isn't holding you back -- it's the sheer, inexplicable nature of the project itself that stands between you and understanding.
Las Historias Mas Sexy Del Mundo!
As such: "(The film the comic is based on is an) obscurantist take on mid-'70s European soft-core porn films. The comic/film is a triptych of sexually-oriented vignettes that follow the same 'logic' and plot mechanics as European soft-core, and culminates in a live musical performance. To recreate the 'look' of said films, the film was shot on reversal, and an internegative was made, from which a work-print was struck and edited on a flatbed editor for that 'Swedish Erotica' look. While filming, film maker Eric Cheevers took still photos for the comic version." Which clears up a lot...
Except, of course, why the comic is entirely written in Spanish. Or, for that matter, why it exists in the first place. The film itself, which comes packaged on DVD with a Scene Creamers EP, seems to be some sort of bizarre promotional scheme. That I can basically understand. People like movies. They even like silly, arbitrary films -- especially if there's a potential for naked ladies appearing in the silly, arbitrary films. But giving away a movie that promotes your comic book is kind of like Ford giving away cars to help sell more Hot Wheels -- it just seems backwards, especially when you consider what happens to successful comic books these days (hint: they get turned into movies). We can assume, then, that the book is the result of Cheevers' singular artistic vision. Or something.
So, yeah. Fake European softcore porn in photo-comic form, in Spanish. I've made it through Spanish 103, so I can basically understand it, although I was out sick the day they covered slang terms for women's body parts.
The first story opens with a beautiful young woman walking down the street. "Me encanta andarme por la calle en mi mini-falda," she thinks. In English: she loves to walk on the street in her mini-skirt. She goes to a gynecologist. She tells him she has sexual problems. He responds, "Tengo un metodo especial para ese tipo de problemas." He has a special method for this type of problem. It is, he explains, sexual. Couldn't she try something more standard? She could, but in her case, there can only be one remedy... (Dramatic close-up!) "Empazare por examinaria sus zonas erogenas!" I bet you can figure out that last one. The story ends here with a dramatic "Etc!" I didn't know whether to be disappointed or relieved that there wasn't any actual sex.
In the next story, "Las Sex-Vedettes y el Apocolipso", a couple of beautiful women are posing for a photographer when they notice one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse standing behind him. Apparently, Pestilence is ridiculously sexy. Here we enter a grey area regarding my linguistic know-how. Before undressing to sex the horseman up, one of the women says "Menudo caballo..." It's my understanding that this translates to "What a horse." She may mean this in the sense of "What a stallion," which would, hopefully, be a bad pun, and not in reference to the actual horse. She may also simply mean "What a horse" after all, in reference to, you know, the horse. Given that she's peeling her sweater off in the next panel, (still no nudity, though!) I really have to hope she doesn't mean the horse. Bestiality would be par for the course as far as silliness goes, but on the other hand, there's nothing softcore about fucking a horse.
There's also a story about a couple of models who get stranded on the side of the road, find a mysterious log cabin, play dress-up with the extensive wardrobe within, and, unless I'm reading it wrong -- and it's easy to miss this, since it happens entirely between panels if at all -- have hot, lesbian sex. Then an alien appears. The alien turns out to be a neo-luddite who dressed up as an alien for the pure irony of it.
Finally The Scene Creamers make their cameo. They make a relatively dynamic performance, considering they're not capable of movement or producing sound, being in a comic and all. A couple of women are watching the band on TV, and a peeping tom is watching them. They notice him, are shocked, one of them spills her drink, thus making her carpet very wet. He offers to clean it using a method he used in India, but, as her friend points out, the woman's carpet is very delicate.
Continue Scene Creamers cameo! Their song, incidentally, is in English.
To their credit, the people behind this comic put the effort in to make it look good. As anyone who's had the great misfortune to open up one of Tokyopop's "Cinemanga" books can tell you, it's a bit harder than you'd think to translate film to comic dynamically while maintaining cohesion -- although the Tokyopop people make it look ten thousand times harder than it is. Eric Cheevers shares layout credits with Nick Pimentel, Natalie Mecinsky, Jonathan Schultz and Peter Lennon, and they've done an excellent job of cropping, Photoshopping, and generally arranging the black and white photos in in a clear, easy-to-read and interesting fashion. It functions just as well as a drawn book. And, hey, the women are beautiful, even if these aren't quite the sexiest stories in history.
What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing. Around the time that the neo-luddite guy takes off his alien mask and declares that he dressed up for the pure irony of it, you realize there's no point in trying to understand the comic. That's fine. If you want to see some silly Swedes pretending to be soft-core porn actors in a Spanish-language comic book that culminates in a performance by The Scene Creamers, this is the definitive word on the genre. And, in the somewhat more easily understood event that you want to see how a photo comic can be done properly, Las Historias Mas Sexy Del Mundo! is still one of very few places you can go.
-- Mike Meginnis