Back in the day, comic books were all about fighting fascism, serving justice and saving cats from trees. As the medium evolved, people began to tell more risque stories that ran the gamut from drug abuse to sexuality and as the years went by, things got more and more... mature. The big publishers like Marvel and DC tended to avoid these types of stories due to the Comics Code of Authority, but even they would explore the more violent and sexual aspects of storytelling as the years went by. Despite the slight advances Marvel and DC have made, there have been a number of independent publishers over the years who have had absolutely no proclivities about publishing stories dealing with sexuality.
It all began in the underground community but has since moved well into the mainstream--if you know where to look. Let's be honest, most retailers aren't going to put some of these titles on their shelves. For this list, we wanted to explore the more adult-themed books beginning with what many people would consider somewhat lightweight, but as you get to the end, it's a no-holds-barred exploration into what can only be described as purely adult material. You have been warned, but know that the images shown and the text will still be SFW... but you probably don't want your boss looking over your shoulder as you read our picks for 15 Independent Comics That Will Make You BLUSH
15 LOVE AND ROCKETS
We are kicking off this list with an example that might make only the prudest of us blush. The Hernandez brothers' Love and Rockets was first published in 1982 by Fantagraphics. The comics were told in a serial narrative format but were written independently of one another by the brothers. The series focused on many different characters from all over the place; some in South America and others in Los Angeles.
How might this book make someone blush? When it came out in the early 1980s, the general public of the United States was not as accepting of homosexuality as they are now and there are several depictions of hetero and homosexual sex throughout the books. Though the series is much more muted than the following examples, we're sure some folks' cheeks turned a shade or two darker red when they picked this book up back in the day.
14 SIN CITY
Sin City is a series of graphic novels written and drawn by Frank Miller. The first of the series debuted in Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special in 1991, but have since been printed in various collections of their own. The stories feature some of the same characters in different situations, but all fall within Basin City, best known as Sin City for obvious reasons.
Other than the incredibly descriptive violence, sex sells in these books and many of the characters are deadly prostitutes. In one memorable image, the character Nancy is dancing at Kadie's Bar, which isn't too naughty, but her relationship with her savior, John Hartigan, might cause a few people to double-take. Sexuality aside, the series is an incredible read and the two films shot by Robert Rodriguez are definitely worth your time.
13 BOMB QUEEN
Bomb Queen is a title printed by Image Comics having first appeared in Bomb Queen #1, written and penciled by Jimmie Robinson. Bomb Queen is all about a beautiful woman who becomes a supervillain ruling over the loving citizens of New Port City. Her evil reign is dictated by the complete removal of all superheroes, her bloodlust and whatever sexual perversions she chooses to entertain.
As you can see from the image, Robinson doesn't shy away from drawing the titular villainess in the typical comic-book style of tight and busty, which is clearly what his readers prefer. Nudity and overt sexuality have landed this lovely lady on our list today for what has become a rather fun character and entertaining read. Bomb Queen has been seen in her own limited series' as well as a crossover in The Savage Dragon #134, written and penciled by Erik Larsen.
12 LOST GIRLS
Lost Girls is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and penciled by Melinda Gebbie. The story is an erotic fantasy that tells the sexual adventures of three women from fiction: Alice from Through the Looking-glass, Wendy Darling from Peter and Wendy and Dorothy Gale from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The stories are told by each of the women, now in their 20s and 30s after they meet in an expensive mountain resort called Hotel Hummelgarten in Austria just before the outbreak of the Great War. The book is beautifully illustrated to accompany Moore's gifted take on literature. There was some controversy about child sexuality within the pages when it was published, but it still made it past the various sensors as a recognized piece of literature.
11 CRY FOR DAWN
The adage "Sex Sells" is pretty much sprawled on the various covers of the Cry for Dawn series by Joseph Michael Linser who illustrated the series and wrote it alongside Joseph Monks. The stories followed various characters in independent situations, but also focused on the titular character, Dawn, who is the goddess of birth and rebirth.
Among the many stories featured in the various books of one-shots and short, ongoing series were tales of drugs, sex, and the spread of HIV. Dawn is almost always drawn as seductively as possibly and Linser's brilliant pencils don't leave very much to the imagination. Dawn was a popular independent title during the 1990s having first been published in 1989's Cry for Dawn, which was followed by four subsequent anthologies and miniseries through 2005.
10 TAROT: WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose is an ongoing comic book series written and drawn by Jim Balent published through Broadsword Comics. While the above image and many of the 100+ covers depict Tarot as a buxom and beautiful woman, the crux of the series isn't so much about sex, though there is a great deal of nudity... like, a lot of nudity, which is why we find it listed here.
Tarot is a warrior witch whose stories are told in a fantasy/action-adventure setting. Interestingly, the end of each issue has interviews with real practitioners of Wiccan and witchcraft to include guides for crafting spells and there is even a section for fan-submitted spells as well. Sex is a part of this tale, but it's also about an appreciation for Wiccan and the fantasy aspects of witchcraft.
9 TALES FROM THE LEATHER NUN
With a title like Tales from the Leather Nun, how could it not end up on this list? The comic was published in the underground independent scene of the early 1970s by many of the artists whose work can be found throughout this list such as Robert Crumb, Roger Brand, Dave Sheridan and many others. The comic was published by Last Gasp in 1973 and only produced a single issue.
The book has become something of a cult classic, but it is available online if you are looking to read it. The title character appears nude throughout the book with the exception of her nun's habit. Most of the stories throughout the anthology are all about sex and this is probably one of the more obvious depictions of profanity we could find that still had some amazing artistry behind it.
8 FRITZ THE CAT
Fritz the Cat was a character created by Robert Crumb in 1965. The character first appeared in the form of a comic strip in Help! and Cavalier magazines, but was reimagined as an animated character in the 1972 film, Fritz the Cat by Ralph Bakshi. Crumb hated the movie so much, he killed off the character shortly after it was released.
Fritz the Cat is as close as you can get to watching the counterculture of the 1960s in America and the sexual revolution through the eyes of anthropomorphized animals. The comic and film (there was a sequel, but best not talk about that) followed this format well and the world was gifted with an X-rated comic and cartoon the likes of which we haven't seen since, which is probably a good thing.
7 OMAHA THE CAT DANCER
Not wanting to stray too far from our previous mention of sexualized animals, we have Omaha the Cat Dancer, which is exactly what it looks like. Omaha, also known as Susan Jensen, is a stripper and highly sexualized cat-lady created by Reed Waller and Kate Worley for Kitchen Sink Press in 1978.
The series tells the tale of Omaha in the style of a soap opera with her many animal companions, but when you get right down to it, it's adult comics for furries, which isn't necessarily a bad thing--we all need our outlets! It is certainly for mature audiences only; however, the writing and artwork don't shy away from explicit storylines that earned it multiple Eisner Awards through its publication. The explicit use of sex throughout the books is not intended for shock value but rather integrates seamlessly with excellent storytelling (if you can get over the furry aspect).
Sex is a series published by Image Comics that deals with a lot of... well, sex. That's obvious given the title, but it isn't the only thing about this series that makes it interesting enough to make this list -- it's a really good read. Sex is written by Joe Casey and penciled by Piotr Kowalski to create an '80s story told to a modern audience.
When we say the '80s, we mean the sex and violence that films from the era didn't hold back in delivering. That's what you get when you read sex... that and a lot of what the title is all about of course. The series follows Simon Cooke, a retired superhero who returns to Saturn City as a civilian, but things don't always work out the way we plan. He is something of a Batman homage but removed just enough to keep DC's attorneys at bay.
Richard Corbin's Den has been a fixture of fantasy comics since the character first debuted in print in 1973. The character was first seen in the 1968 animated short Neverwhere, but comics have been his home off and on since that debut. Den is introduced in different ways depending on the medium, but in the comics, he is a young man named David Ellis Norman (check the initials) who opens a gateway to a fantasy world where he is transformed into a nude, hairless, bald and well-endowed full-grown man.
He goes on many fantastic adventures where he has sex and lives out the fantasy of every adolescent teenage boy. The character was featured in the 1977 film Heavy Metal, which followed a similar origin story. In the animated film, John Candy supplied the voice for Den (and a few other characters).
4 DEBBIE DOES COMICS
Even if you have never before seen it, you have likely heard of the classic 1978 adult film, Debbie Does Dallas. We don't need to get into that too much here, but if you thought a blue film like that wouldn't spawn some versions of itself into other media like comics, you are sorely mistaken. The previously-named film was made into a comic of the same name, but the character strayed even further into the perfectly titled, Debbie Does Comics.
These books tell the story of Debbie Benton as she... um... does comics, which is to say the character from the film is drawn into explicit and hardcore sexual situations in an attempt at humor. It's kind of silly and also kind of provocative, but entirely not something you would want your mother to find tucked under your mattress.
3 PENTHOUSE COMIX
As we all know, Penthouse Magazine publishes pictures of women in sexual situations targeted at a male audience but did you know they also publish adult-oriented comics as well (the above panel was one of the tamest we could find)? These stories are told in a manner similar to the comics found in Heavy Metal Magazine, but with a lot more explicit sex, which is really saying something.
These books sort of ask the question of what a comic book featuring your regular spandex-clad bevy of characters having sex all over the place would look like. Since they published a lot of these books, it seems there truly is a market for exactly that. Who knew other than the good people over at Penthouse (and a number of film production companies we don't need to discuss here).
2 MAX COMIX
Max Comix is another book published by the good folks at Penthouse, but these come with more of a twist. You want anthropomorphic genitalia running around town getting into all sorts of trouble? This is the comic for you! Sure, Max Comix has your regular run-of-the-mill sex and gratuitous violence people come to expect in most of the entries on this list, but they don't stop there.
Not a lot of these books have been published, which could have something to do with the living genitalia mucking about here and there, but that could also be the draw some readers just couldn't pass up. Considering what it is, the art is exceptionally well-drawn and it's not the worst read in the world, but it just might be the worst read on this list. Still, it doesn't hold a candle to what we found for our final entry.
1 CAVE BANG
Cave Bang is essentially illustrated pornography... not that there's anything wrong with that! This black and white series published by Eros Comics between 1996 and 2001 by Tayyar Ozkan is about the sexual adventures of a woman who gets captured by a caveman while she and her boyfriend are exploring a cave (no explanation on why there is a caveman in modern times, but it really isn't important to the story).
The caveman kidnaps her and takes her to his land beyond the cave, which is inhabited by more like him. They then... get it on... before she is returned to her boyfriend and the so-called real world. It's as explicit a comic as we could find that still had some talented artwork behind it, which is why it makes the top pick for our list.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, more examples of "adults only" comics so let us know in the comments which are your favorite!