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'08 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations

by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft

Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons

2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Iím Easy, But Iím No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel

Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics

On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank

Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean

Words and Pictures: What a Concept!
An Interview with Eric Reynolds
of Fantagraphics Publishing

Fantagraphics PublishingWhen the hip and savvy talk about Fantagraphics Publishing, there's no doubting the superlatives that roll out. The NY Village Voice says, It'd be difficult to find more challenging and entertaining rabble-rousers amid the panorama of popular culture. Wired magazine proclaims, Fantagraphics publishes the best comics in the world.

Fantagraphics artists such as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, Jessica Abel among others continue to rule the marketplace and garner critical acclaim. Fantagraphics authors receive more favorable press attention than any publisher in the history of the medium. Their books consistently get positive coverage in TIME, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, and throughout the media. To probe their secrets of success and the thinking that propels them, we sat down—metaphorically—with Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics for a little tête à tête. Eric describes himself as Fantagraphics Official Shill & Paid Apologist, so you can see he has a great sense of humor which is never a bad thing for an editor.

ERWA: Fantagraphics is involved in so many different projects that it seems to defy our definition of what an graphic publishing house is all about. How does a project essentially go from an idea or concept into a published form?

Eric Reynolds (ER): It's pretty organic, really. Gary and Kim and I are obviously all big comics fans, first and foremost, and the line essentially represents our tastes. We each kind of pursue projects individually and twice a year sit down and hammer out a six month schedule based on what we're each pursuing. Some of these books are no-brainers, like a book by an author we have a longstanding relationship with.

Others are pet projects we instigated ourselves. Many books are very simply agreed upon, while others have to be considered more carefully, and any number of factors can play into the final decision. But it's essentially just one of us saying, "We gotta do this!" and we go from there.

ERWA: The company has a solid base in re-prints of classic comic strips and materials, so what about new projects and art? In other words, most businesses figure “Well, this sells, so something like it should sell, too,” but Fantagraphics covers both the nostalgic and the radically new. How does the new material submitted get evaluated?

ER: I'd be lying if I said we didn't take into consideration whether a book will sell when evaluating a project, but I'd also like to think that we don't let it be an overriding principle in determining what we publish. Basically, we have a mission to publish what we consider to be the best examples of cartooning in the world, past and present, and believe that there will be a market for such work. And so we try to represent this spectrum as best we can. Our only real concern is that we not become too reliant or focused on archival material, because the contemporary work is just as important for maintaining the medium's vitality.

ERWA: Even in the “adult materials” category, styles and content vary widely, anything from the classic R. Crumb to the latest hentai stories and even quite “abstract” sensual imagery. Is there a lot of competition among graphic book publishers to “push the envelope” so to speak and move into areas formerly considered “taboo”?

ER: I would actually argue that there's less competition or drive to push the envelope these days. If anything, the underground cartoonists of the 1960s and '70s were so thorough in their annihilation of societal taboos that the medium to a large degree has gotten that out of its system. Besides, nowadays, transgression has very much moved into the mainstream. From mainstream television like South Park to the ubiquity of pornography in our culture, I'm not sure there are many taboos left to tackle.

ERWA: In works such as Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Daniel Clowes, the graphic novel can explore BDSM and fetish interests, which is currently a hot topic among erotica writers. With all the explicit photographic and video materials available online, what is the special appeal, do you think, of such material in a graphic novel format? Is it a combination of storyline and illustration, artistic interpretation, or what?

ER: I'm no expert on this so I'm just speculating, but I would guess it's some combination of the fact that you can depict just about anything in comics with no budget, and the fact that even the worst-written comics are probably more engaging than the best screenplays for adult films. And the visual nature of comics is probably a more visceral experience than prose erotica, for a lot of folks, anyway. Do adult films actually even get "written", per se? I have no idea. But in the case of Velvet Glove, what appeals to me is the richness of Clowes' world-building and those creepy Lynchian moments don't make much sense of the face of them, but have an interior logic in the context of the novel that resonates with readers. It doesn't function or satisfy as straightforward erotica, I don't think. Though I wouldn't argue with anyone who told me it did!

ERWA: What are some of what you consider the boldest new projects currently in development at Fantagraphics and why will they appeal to readers?

ER: With 50+ books a year it's tough to pick favorites. There's a few books coming out this spring that I enjoy particularly because they challenge the notion of what a graphic novel or comic is, and each is wildly entertaining in their own right. The first is Ellen Forney's Lust, which collects all of her "Lustlab" illustrations for Seattle's Stranger newspaper from the last three years. Every week, Ellen chooses a personal ad from the paper's kinky section and essentially turns it into a single-image cartoon. Some are mini-comics, some are more reminiscent of psychedelic posters, etc. But they're all great cartooning, full of life; collectively, they have the effect of humanizing or normalizing our human proclivity toward fetishistic behavior. Fetishes are perceived as some kind of aberrance in normal human behavior, and yet its quite common for someone to have a fetish. Ellen makes even the most prurient interest seem like a natural extension of human desire.

Then, there's this book called Funeral oF the Heart by Leah Hayes, which is a collection of hand-lettered, illustrated prose short stories. She writes dark, gothic fairy tales, like a more contemporary Edward Gorey. Again, I like the hybrid of prose and imagery, working together to create something greater than the sum of its parts, in a way that both is and isn't comics. And then there's this book called Hall of Best Knowledge by Ray Fenwick, which is another crazy hybrid, and also completely hilarious. It's essentially all text, but all the text is hand-crafted and ornately detailed, and is the story of an unreliable narrator that slowly unravels over the course of the book. I would call it "typographical comics" and it's a form that Fenwick almost created out of thin air.

There's so much more, I could list a number of things, like Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button, which might be our big graphic novel of the year—at 700-plus pages, I mean that both literally and figuratively.

ERWA: Apart from the usual dictates of strong characters and storylines, what advice can you give to new authors who might consider submitting material to Fantagraphics? Is it better, for example, to try to work with an artist from the start to develop the material together or can a successful merge be made from a completed story?

ER: Anything's possible and there's certainly plenty of examples of the latter, but I tend to encourage the former approach if I have to choose. But more importantly, we simply won't pair a writer with an artist or vice-versa. About 95% of the work we publish is work where the writer and artist are the same person, and we will not facilitate collaborations, which tends to be a more corporate approach to comic-making. We publish very few collaborations, and when we have, they tend to be more organic collaborations than your standard writer/artist division-of-labor involving pre-existing relationships. Good comics are about achieving a certain harmony between words and images and you can't really force it. It requires being a writer, director, actor, stage blocker, storyboard artist, etc. It's difficult for a hired artist to completely and fully realize what exists in a writer's mind, unless that artist happens to be the writer.

ERWA: Finally, although we realize there is no perfect form, what are the elements that to you, personally, make up the best possible adult graphic novels?

ER: Good writing, good drawing, in the service of each other. Good drawing or writing by themselves don't inherently make a good comic any more than good cinematography or a good screenplay necessarily makes a good film.

Visit Fantagraphics website:

William S. Dean
April 2008

"Getting Graphic" © 2008 by William S. Dean. All rights reserved.

About the Author: William S. Dean is Special Features Editor and Graphic Artist for the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, Associate Editor and Graphic Artist for Clean Sheets magazine. His fiction, articles, and poetry have appeared in Literotica, Dare Reader, SOMA Literary Review, Slow Trains Literary Journal, Venus or Vixen, Hoot Island, Satin Sheets, Suspect Thoughts, and other websites. His works in anthologies include Desires, Tears on Black Roses, From Porn to Poetry, and CREAM: The Best of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.

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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy