Oh Joy Sex Toy: Vol­ume 4

Erika Moen Matthew Nolan

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Comics & Graphic Novels / Juvenile Fiction - CLAIRE FOSTER

Oni Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $29.99 (304pp) 978-1-62010-444-6

Moen’s mes­sage: sex can be and mean many things; ex­plore it for your­self.

Wild or mild? Oh Joy Sex Toy, Vol. 4 ex­plores the many an­gles, acts, and archetypes of sex, gen­der, and sex­ual iden­tity. Am­bi­tious in its scope, this comic is a be­gin­ner’s guide to en­joy­ing sex of all kinds.

Artist Erika Moen and her hus­band Matthew Nolan have clearly hit on a for­mula that works. Oh Joy Sex Toy de­liv­ers ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, tu­to­rial-style, with enough salty talk to sea­son the ma­te­rial. (The reader is ad­dressed as “per­vert” through­out.)

Although lan­guage is some­times off-putting, re­ly­ing on crude slang or jokes about sex, the ma­te­rial is solid. Moen’s mes­sage: sex can be and mean many things, and you’re em­pow­ered to ex­plore it for your­self.

The comic’s play­ful, pink, splashy pages are crammed with anatom­i­cally ex­plicit art­work. Moen and Nolan, the strip’s hosts, ap­pear in ed­u­ca­tional puffs of smoke like game show hosts. Out­side ex­perts pop in as well to dis­pel pop­u­lar myths about sex. In one strip, a sex ed­u­ca­tor para­chutes into the frame on a float­ing, flo­ral maxi pad, hol­ler­ing, “Did some­one say pe­riod sex?!?”

Moen leans heav­ily on silli­ness and jokes to neu­tral­ize any em­bar­rass­ment, though the trick wears thin. Her mar­riage, and her sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band, are some­times the sub­ject of the strip, but a pass­ing men­tion of Moen’s bipo­lar dis­or­der is far more in­ter­est­ing than what she gets up to in the bed­room.

Sex-toy re­views com­prise a huge por­tion of the book. While their art is won­der­ful, in­cor­po­rat­ing many body types, cou­plings, and pref­er­ences, these re­views read like ad copy and dis­tract from the book’s over­all mes­sage.

In terms of ed­u­ca­tion, it’s mixed: will a ridged sil­i­con toy be rel­e­vant to a reader in five years? Un­likely. On the other hand, Moen’s strip on ejac­u­la­tion is a solid, ev­er­green ref­er­ence.

Guest comic artists, es­pe­cially kink ed­u­ca­tion strips by Niki Smith and Ariel Vit­tori, are in­cred­i­ble. The di­ver­sity of style and sub­ject cre­ate a great op­por­tu­nity for read­ers to ex­plore new artists, whose web­sites ap­pear in the ti­tle of con­tents.

Vol. 4 can be read as a stand­alone book and should prob­a­bly be taken as one slice of Moen’s per­sonal ex­plo­ration of sex. Although un­even and com­mer­cial at times, Oh Joy Sex Toy is a friendly, wel­com­ing guide for newly cu­ri­ous sex­ual ad­ven­tur­ers.

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