Comic books are often dismissed as just “for kids,” but they also represent a powerful art form that attracts imaginative storytellers who are interested in writing about the entire spectrum of human behavior… even the dirty stuff. They’re not all great, but at the intersection of sex, gore, and quality you’ll find the best comics that definitely aren’t for kids.
In the Golden Age, many comics embraced sex, violence, the occult, and amorality with the tawdry enthusiasm of pulp fiction. After the advent of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, mature content was forced underground to small press publishers, making it harder for mature readers to find the adult storytelling they craved. It also led to a slew of pornographic comics bereft of plot and a strengthening of the perception that the only “acceptable” comics were those portraying facile, simplified superhero stories.
Despite these conditions, some of the comic world’s best creators took leaps of faith and put out comics that explore X-rated themes, yet aren’t total smut (nor splatter). In fact, these adult comics are often masterpieces. While they aren’t necessarily erotic comics, these mature comic books definitely aren’t for kids.
Ironwood isn’t just the mystical forest between the realms of goblins and men, it’s what will be happening in your pants when you read Bill Willingham’s erotic sword and sorcery romp.
Just so you know exactly what kind of comic you’re in for, the first book opens with the protagonist being explicitly fellated by a centaur and, later on, said centaur gets serviced by a demon with an infinitely lengthening tongue.
As a mainstream artist, Howard Chaykin liked to push the envelope. When he struck out on his own, the result, Black Kiss, actually had to be distributed in an envelope. The hard-boiled crime comic’s graphic violence, and especially its graphic sex, were too much for its original printer. When it finally hit comic stores, it arrived in a bag so that no one could browse the pervy content without paying full price.
Anyone who did pay found a noir piece full of ladyboys, bullets, blowjobs, necrophiliacs, and vampires… yes, hard-boiled vampires (fighting over a porn from the Pope’s personal stash).
New Port City falls under the rule of the villainous Bomb Queen after she explodes all her rivals and her clothes.
With nipples on the loose more often than not, she dominates the news, the government, and any man she pleases.
She has a cute cat for a sidekick, but by no means is this title meant for kids, unless you think the young ones would benefit from a dose of innuendo and charred neck stumps.
Grant Morrison claims that much of the plot of The Invisibles was told to him by aliens when he was abducted from Katmandu. It’s good to know that aliens like tantric sex, cursing, and sexual magic as much as Earthlings do.
At one point, the main characters find themselves trapped inside the movie Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom, which is also definitely not for kids.
When the series faced cancellation, Morrison tried to organize a “wankathon,” where the energy from the simultaneous masturbation of all his readers would save the series. It must have worked, as he was able to complete the three-volume opus.
Invincible is a superhero adventure by Robert Kirkman, who also writes The Walking Dead. Since it’s in color, the flowing blood is that much more vibrant.
The story centers on a violent race of alien supermen called from planet Viltrum. However, unlike DC’s friendly Kryptonians, Viltrumites have no problem ripping regular humans (or each other) in half with their bare hands.
There’s a smidgen of implicit sex, but mostly blood by the gallons, so make sure not to confuse Invincible with the usual spandex fare.
Omaha the Cat Dancer
Omaha the Cat Dancer is an explicitly erotic comic set in a world of anthropomorphic characters, which is a nice way of saying it’s furry porn. It’s also a gripping soap opera.
The titular (pun intended) character is a bipedal feline stripper whose entrancing sexuality makes her a lightning rod for controversy in a corrupt town suffering a love/hate relationship with its own libido.
There are explicit sex acts and nudity in every issue to the point that expository dialogue is sometimes wedged in between thrusts to keep the story moving. Don’t buy this for your kids. Unless you’re okay with them finding out what it looks like when a dog bumps uglies with a bird.
The Rock Cocks
Not to go all hipster on you, but one of the best comics that isn’t for kids is in progress right now. It’s a web comic called The Rock Cocks and it follows a pair of touring rock ‘n’ rollers while they try to make a buck in this crazy world. Also, they get buck naked on the regular.
The adventure (so far) is offered for free on the official site while a Patreon campaign is running to raise funds to make it a full time thing. With a husband (writer Brad Brown) and wife (artist Leslie Brown) team in full ownership of the book, it’s got an indie heart, authentic sex scenes, and (probably) a few autobiographical notes about artistic relationships. It will be interesting to see if something so risque (yet rockin’) can survive on crowdfunding.
The first yarn in Frank Miller’s black and white crime series follows the deranged behemoth Marv on his quest to avenge a beloved hooker named Goldie. She was killed by Kevin, a mute cannibal choir boy with “the voice of an angel…” except that he’s mute. Kevin also keeps a man-eating wolf and a dungeon decorated with decapitated hooker heads mounted on plaques.
In exacting his revenge, Marv watches his favorite stripper, pulls the head off of a preacher, feeds Kevin to his own pet wolf, and goes to the electric chair… twice.
That’s just the first Sin City yarn, and they don’t get any nicer.
In addition to levels of sex, violence, and profanity on par with the other raunchy titles on this list, Preacher comes with a whole heap of blasphemy, as well as a character named Arseface.
If you plan to raise your kids as Christians, then this book should be at the top of your “Do Not Read” list. It centers on a supernaturally empowered and cynically disillusioned preacher’s quest to track down God and give Him a stern lecture.
From Hell is Alan Moore’s exploration of the Jack the Ripper killings, and as such, it is full of dirty drawings of back alley Victorian sex and nauseating crime scenes.
Though Jack the Ripper’s vivisections of prostitutes were surgical in nature, the book also covers a copycat killing in which a dirty hovel was graphically redecorated with internal organs and viscera.
Unless you want your kids to know how dirty it would be to buy hookers in the grimy impoverished alleys of Victorian England, avoid this volume and be glad it doesn’t come in Smell-O-Vision.
In The Boys, the world’s top superteam, the Seven, present a polished public image and save the day (when they feel like it). Behind closed doors, however, they’re deranged, drug addicted, murdering, gang-raping psychopaths.
When the protagonist, Wee Hughie, joins the secret hero-hunting club called the Boys, he learns that the superpowers and revealing costumes are just the tip of the kinky iceberg.
Genitals aren’t shown, but drug use and nudity (of superheroic proportions) pepper every issue, climaxing with the “Herogasm” storyline in which the heroes congregate for a drug-soaked orgy.
Oh, and between all the sex scenes, people are being graphically ripped apart, taking hammers to the skull, and exploding into pulpy blood spatters.
When the legendary Alan Moore took stock of the state of pornography, he saw a distinct lack plot (and quality). So he enlisted his future wife, Melinda Gibbe, to provide the erotically charged art for Lost Girls.
The volume stars public domain characters from early 20th century novels. Dorothy Gale (from the Oz novels), Wendy Darling (from Peter Pan), and Alice (of Wonderland fame) meet up at a posh European hotel to swap sex stories. Moore re-imagines their famous literary adventures as explicit sexual odysseys.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the references to classic children’s books make Lost Girls okay for your kids to read unless you’re at peace with them seeing Dorothy and the Tin Man as they’ve never seen them.
Though it’s more of an anthology than a comic series, Heavy Metal’s contribution to the pantheon of titties and gore cannot go unrecognized. Though it also includes prose stories, interviews, and pinup art, the American adaptation of France’s Metal Hurlant was best known for its science fiction and fantasy comics.
From the hyperviolence of RanXerox to the unrepentant sensuality of Milo Manera’s erotica, every page of Heavy Metal was (and is) full of things for uptight parents to find objectionable.
The protagonist of Grant Morrison’s The Filth starts out as pornography addict and chronic masturbator. Luckily, he learns that his personality is a disguise he didn’t even know he was wearing. He becomes a badass secret agent, but then has to face off against a villain with the power to shoot malevolent mutated sperm.
Dave McKean is best known for his association with Neil Gaiman’s eminently classy Sandman graphic novels, but in 2011, he decided to create an erotic graphic novel. The twist is that he decided to make it a really classy, thoughtful erotic graphic novel. Celluloid is a textless story in which the characters step through a piece of film into a sexual fantasy “safe zone” and then… get to it.
Each chapter covers one kind of sex act and is approached with a different style. As always, McKean’s art adventurously mixes media, which can leave the reader wondering just how the images were composed and maybe even forgetting to masturbate.
If you’re thinking about checking this out and are even the least bit prudish, just know that it contains a full-page spread of an ejaculating penis. That’s the kind of book this is.
There’s no way you’re buying Marshal Law for your kids. The hero’s “costume” is a modified S&M gimp suit with a zippered face mask decorated by an upside-down cross. He also wears chaps and a winged hat in the style of the Nazi SS, has “Fear and Loathing” emblazoned on his chest plate, and generally looks like he might’ve been kicked out of the Village People for being too weird.
The villain of the first arc is a garbage bag-wearing lunatic fond of raping and eviscerating women who cosplay as his mother or her successor (they’re both famous superheroines).
The Walking Dead
Fans of The Walking Dead are 3x more likely to vote on Omaha the Cat Dancer
What The Walking Dead lacks in sex and nudity, it makes up for in violence and gore. Every issue features shambling corpses being torn apart and splattered in new and creative ways.
Other not-kid-friendly moments include a newborn being blasted to bits by a tank, graphic torture, serial rape, and even a baseball bat beheading.