7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Classic comic strips in a different world,
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This review is from: Tom of Finland: Volume 1: Comic Collection 1 (Hardcover)
I bought this book primarily because I loved the book design element of the reversible cover (I was also aware of Tom Of Finland's paintings).
The hilarious thing about the reversible cover is that the content is so graphic in it's depiction of relentless sex scenes that the subterfuge of the cover would never last a second, it remains a very cool design element though because of it's playing with the sentiment.
The first five seconds of reading the book are shocking because the action is so sexually graphic. It takes a while, however, to acclimatise and realise that Tom of Finland's strips work in exactly the same way that all other entertaining comic strips work. Popeye is a sailor therefore he has big arms, nautical tattoos and travels the world fighting people and in Tom of Finland's world the characters are blue collar men who live in a sexual utopia of equality, affection and mutual willingness to engage in hard sex all of the time, a utopia that even as a straight man, seems perfect. Everyone is in perfect shape because they have sex all of the time. There are no power imbalances unless they are there for comedic reasons, everyone is happy and engaging in mutual pleasure and the action often has elements of affection and tenderness rather than being mechanical. Everyone in Tom of Finland's world is, sexually, having a great time.
From then on there are set-ups and punchlines like there are in other comic strips, often with an ironic or comedic twist to the story and in the same way that all comedic comic strips are a product of the world of the characters and the set up of the specific strip, these are no exception. It is funny that the next thing that happens is the inevitable engagement in sexual acts, the specific digressions from a master of anatomy's sense of proportion is hilarious and the punchlines are often up there with the best of the newspaper strip masters.
I always think that one of John Water's jobs is to make us feel affectionate towards groups of people that we wouldn't intuitively warm to and each time it makes us better people. The Tom of Finland comics disarm us from their sexual explicitness , by on one level entertaining us and on a loftier level pointing to a potential pornography that isn't about power imbalances and the titillation of transgression.