18 Feb Sunday Comics: “Private Lessons” by Josman
One-on-one tutoring with your hunky high school teacher’s house.
Only Josman. ?
I am genuinely floored by the amount of traffic that comes into this blog looking for Handjobs Magazine material and for Josman comics in particular. Especially when we’ve only really showcased a small handful of his beautiful and celebratory comics.
There was this one, about a young boy who meets a Blackey Madison stand-in while trolling the park; this one about a little blonde kid who gets what he didn’t even know he was looking for from a construction foreman; and then Dad’s Toys which features some of the most natural and thoughtful father/son ‘bate education ever drawn into existence.
Josman’s approach to storytelling is dear to my heart because of the way (and we’ve discussed this before, especially in the Dad’s Toys post) he manages to keep the emotional stakes of taboo sexual encounters relatively low. Nobody gets forced or coerced, and everything that happens is joyful and exciting.
I worry sometimes that I’m going to start getting letters from scary parents’ councils or the RNC demanding that I stop promoting incest. But – at least in the way that we talk about it here – incest isn’t really the point of this. I’m not showcasing raunchy, rapey tales of abuse and manipulation between family members. That’s scary and off-putting to me and definitely doesn’t make me want to do anything with my penis. I don’t think abusive relationships or genuine psychological damage need to have a place in pornography. That’s not what this is about.
The reason I think Josman’s stories and comics are worth keeping alive after so many years is because they illustrate a world where sexual interaction isn’t destructive or damaging to the ego or psyches of those involved. Josman stories don’t end with “and that’s why I can’t have any regular relationships to thiiiis day.” They end with love and a connection that allows the characters to see each other more clearly than when they started. There is a lightheartedness that comes through because the characters accept each other fully, without a weird Chinese wall surrounding sex and the body parts related to sex.
Perhaps this world that Josman envisions and brings to life in such vivid, smiling, candy-colored cartoon magic doesn’t really exist because we’re all still so fragile from being told from birth that there are parts of our brains, bodies, and our very existence that are not acceptable; not to family, not to society, and sometimes not even to ourselves. Is it possible that one could overcome that eventually, and begin to see something like genital stimulation with the same banality with which we see preparing and eating delicious food? Maybe there’s nothing about erection and ejaculation that is inherently meaningful and potentially detrimental after all. Maybe it’s just how bodies work, and necessary to humans continuing to exist.
I think we can get there. But it won’t happen without some thoughtfulness about why we’re so tightly wrapped about sex. The best way to begin to undo that wrapping is to think about the things you’re not supposed to think about.
It won’t happen until we move past the “naughtiness” and shame that we’re so fixated on. So much of gay culture, as it relates to sex, is mired so deeply in shame (that’s a post for another time), but does it have to be? Can sex – even when it’s between men, – just be simple?
Written and Illustrated by Josman | Handjobs Magazine, May 2003
Just something to think about.