Friday, April 3, 2020

Eroticism in Don Simpson’s Comics, Part I of II:

Megaton Man, Border Worlds, and The Return of Megaton Man

           Proceed to Part II: The Megaton Man One-Shots, Anton Drek Comix, and Bizarre Heroes

          Note: A gallery of 22 archival covers and comic book pages appears below, following the text.

Megaton Man #1-10 (Kitchen Sink Press, December 1984–June 1986)

Eroticism was always a prominent subtext in the Megaton Man comics from the very first Kitchen Sink Press issue in December, 1984. The cover of #1 set the tone for the series: On it, a sexy Pamela Jointly, reporter’s notepad in hand, kneels barefoot next to a spread-eagle Megaton Man, draped only in a torn, red dress that threatens to fall from her bare shoulders. Although she’s fixated on what she’s writing and not his diminutive crotch, a bulge, nearly lost in the stretchy wrinkles of his trunks, is clearly in evidence.
     In case that were not explicit enough, inside the first issue, the See-Thru Girl, married to Mister Waterballoon, demonstrates her megapowers by turning naked with but a thought—the reader sees only her nude back and bare breast in clear, well-lit profile, but she gives the Man of Molecules the Fully Monty, popping his goggles off. Later, after dispatching the other members of the Megatropolis Quartet, Megaton Man gives the See-Thru Girl an aggressive smooch that leaves her in a fully-clothed swoon.
     Later, Pammy is shown in the Manhattan Project newsroom in tight blue jeans and partially unbuttoned blouse that shows a good deal of cleavage—an early-seventies counterculture fantasy of “office casual.” At the end of the issue, Pammy and Stella, Megaton Man’s two love interests (one for the workplace, one for his megahero identity), leave town together, arm in arm—a homosocial expression of feminist solidarity, underscored with an emphatic if anachronistic (for 1984) slogan, “Right on, Sister!”
     Through the next three issues of Megaton Man, nary a bulge can be seen in Megaton Man’s crotch, nor does even so much as a nipple shadow protrude through the fabric covering a female breast. For the most part, Megaton Man’s trunks are conventionally wrinkled and baggy, following the mainstream superhero comics of the day. They appear to have been made of the same silky material as Adam West’s Batman costume, in the typical brush-stroke rendering used in Superman comics.
     However, cartoonist Don Simpson, a newcomer who never labored under the Comics Code Authority and its restriction, was only getting his second wind.
      It wouldn’t be until the very end of Megaton Man #4, literally on the back cover, that sexual expression in the series would take a great leap forward. The splash page, encapsulating the rooftop romantic encounter between (the single) Megaton Man and the (otherwise married) See-Thru-Girl shown in sequential panels inside the issue, depicts the adulterous couple metaphorically dancing: The Man of Molecules is spread eagle, his “junk” clearly delineated through his trunks (although colored darkly in this day-for-night scene). At the same time, Stella is shown, eyes closed and enraptured, with a demurely but explicitly rendered butt-crack.
[Editor’s note: It was while completing Megaton Man #4, the last issue created entirely in Detroit, that late-blooming twenty-three-year-old cartoonist Don Simpson finally lost his virginity to a young woman, completely coincindentally named Meg.]
     After this, male crotch bulges and fabric-covered but emphatically protruding female nipples, never seen in Marvel or DC comics of the era, would make frequent appearances in the Kitchen Sink Megaton Man comics.
     In issue #5, most notably, the See-Thru Girl’s nipples are frequently seen protruding through her Megatropolis Quartet uniform, leotards, tank tops, and button-down blouses. Megaton Man’s crotch-bulge, too, is seen several times in flashback, not as a focal point but certainly with greater frequency and prominence than in the previous four issues combined, this overt physicality underscoring the emphatically carnal nature of their ilicit romance.

In the last full-page splash of the issue, back in the present, Stella lies awake in bed next to the Ann Arbor university registrar she’s just laid; both are completely nude and covered only by a sheet. Stella thinks of Megaton Man’s rippling muscles and sagging trunks in a thought cloud overhead; the view is an upshot, and Megaton Man’s genital region is delineated with special emphasis through the fabric of his trunks, lest anyone miss the point. This issue, in fact, doesn’t end before Stella picks up a Martian who is auditing her sexuality class, takes him back to the same bedroom, and lays him, too. This time, both figures have remained fully clothed, and Stella creates clouds not from her reminiscences but from a satisfying after-copulation cigarette she smokes in the afterglow.

Border Worlds [Megaton Man #6-10, Border Worlds #1-7, and Border Worlds Marooned #1] (Kitchen Sink Press, October 1985–April 1990)

For the remainder of the initial ten-issue run of Megaton Man, bulging crotches and protruding nipples are not scarce. Pamela Jointly disappears from the main Megaton Man continuity, but is replaced by the even more frankly sexual Jenny Woodlore, protagonist of the Border Worlds back-up feature. For the most part, Jenny will be seen either in purple thermal underwear or in her more usual form-fitting, brown leather spacesuit. On the back cover of Megaton Man #7, featuring the second Border Worlds installment, Jenny’s sultry, sullen, contrapposto pose shows almost the full front of her spacesuit for the first time. An athletic-cup-like covering both covers and emphatically calls out her pubic region; the rounded triangle is even subtly but suggestively split down the middle, evoking the underlying anatomical particularity. In issue #8, two male figures look up at Jenny, who now stands proudly, legs apart if not quite spread-eagle, on the hood of the space hotrod she now owns. This vehicle will signify her growing agency and independence thoughout the series, underscored by her sexually proud pose; the athletic cup, with its subtle vulvular split, is at near the center of the composition.
     Later, in the subsequent black-and-white “mature readers” Border Worlds series, both Jenny’s rear and public region will figure prominently, the latter both metaphorically and literally. The split-beaver “cod piece” of her space suit is featured in another defiant, legs-apart pose on the cover of issue #2. Throughout the series, Jenny will appear nude: at first in shadowy dream sequences with half obscured bare breasts, nipples, aureoles, and crotch hair; later in well-lit sexual fantasies in which she strips off her space suit and couples graphically with her lover, blond Drasin Revell (in an issue labeled “Adults Only”), while they wade in a body of water. By the same token, Jenny is increasing depicted as running her space-taxi business wearing baggy khaki slacks.
     In issue #4, another female character, Drake’s sister and fellow scientist Cody Revell, adopts a spacesuit identical to Jenny’s, replete with an athletic-cup crotch-covering even more lovingly delineated and emphatically split down the middle. In issue #7, space prostitutes are shown completely nude, bushy pubic hair exposed, and in issue #8, Kaarn Pinsen, Jenny’s main antagonist in the series, is shown in full-frontal nudity after sleeping with her older male superior, her hand modestly but only barely covering the ample, blonde bush between her open legs.
     Much later, in the 1990 Border Worlds: Marooned #1, an adults-only one-shot, Drake Revell (the lover Jenny had only fantasized about before) exposes his erect penis before kneeling down and performing cunnilingus on her in an emphatically scene that is emphatically not a fantasy. Jenny then proceeds to ride him, the insertion explicitly shown along with his testes along with her anus. After Jenny climaxes, she lies alongside him, phallus limp and her pubic region airing out.
     In the same issue, Jenny fends off a rapist, which she is able to do only because she is wearing her spacesuit and her attacker can’t pry off the symbolic yoni safeguarding her actual pubic region.

The Return of Megaton Man #1-3 (Kitchen Sink Press, July–September 1988)

On the cover of The Return of Megaton Man #1, Megaton Man appears spread-eagles again, his sagging equipment hanging in trunks that are now low-rise panty briefs. In the background, compositionally between his legs, the See-Thru Girl crouches slightly to get a better view. On the inside front cover, a flashback of their rooftop hook-up shows Megaton Man fondling one of the See-Thru Girl’s large breasts through her Quartet uniform. But this come-on material is not supported inside the book; it would seem that since arriving in Ann Arbor, the Man of Molecules doesn’t seem to have been getting any.
     On the first page, Clarissa James, an African-American coed introduced in the original series as Stella’s scrawny, studious college sidekick, is present as taller and more filled out, with a robust bottom showcased in tight athletic shorts. Megaton Man, having now lost his megapowers, is civilian Trent Phloog, flustered and beside himself near Clarissa’s tight, firm body.
     In scenes within the communal house, Stella, pregnant with Megaton Man’s illegitimate child, is seen braless and bosomy in a tank top and later a button shirt. Pammy Jointly is shown preferring tight, French-cut T-shirts and shorts that show off her long, shapely legs and bare feet. All three women are now the powerless Megaton Man’s Ann Arbor roommates, and it is clear that the women run the show. Even when Yarn Man shows up at this off-campus communal house, Clarissa immediately pounces on him, wrestles him to the ground, and pulls him by his boxer shorts upstairs to her room for recreational sex. By issue #3 of the Return series, it is clear that Clarissa has had Yarn Man tied to her bed all weekend while she has worn at most only underwear; Yarn Man’s dialogue makes emphatically clear Clarissa has been sitting on his face the whole time, and he explicitly requests that she do so some more.
     Things were about to heat up considerably as the 1980s turned into the 1990s....

Compiled by Ted S. Edwards.

Proceed to Part II: The Megaton Man One-Shots, Anton Drek Comix, and Bizarre Heroes

Archival Images

Pammy kneels before our spread-eagle hero in Megaton Man #1.

The See-Thru Girl turns naked with but a thought in Megaton Man #1.

A kiss leaves Stella wanting more in in Megaton Man #1.

Pammy demonstrates a 1970s hippie-chick conception of office casual in Megaton Man #1.

Stella wants to bear all of Mister Waterballoon's mutants in in Megaton Man #1.

"Right on, sister!" The homosocial exodus from in Megaton Man #1.

Megaton Man and Stella dance the dance of desire in Megaton Man #4.

Hard nipples express Stella's desolation in Megaton Man #5.

 A bulging crotch figures prominently in Stella's romantic reminiscences in Megaton Man #5.

After doing a diminutive Martian, Stella has only a satisfying smoke in Megaton Man #5.

The Ample Rose Shark on the back cover of Megaton Man #6.

Jenny's athletic supporter on the back cover to Megaton Man #6.

Jenny stands proudly in Megaton Mani #7.

The purple thermal underwear and space suit of Jenny Woodlore in Megaton Man #7

The Man of Molecules lets a lot hang out as the See-Thru Girl looks up his business in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Megaton Man feels Stella's ample breast in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Clarissa James's robust bottom in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Stella and Pammy around the Ann Arbor house in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Megaton Man has trouble restraining his masculinity around three female roommates in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Clarissa pounces on Yarn Man in The Return of Megaton Man #1.

Return of Megaton Man #1.

Return of Megaton Man #1.

Proceed to Part II: The Megaton Man One-Shots, Anton Drek Comix, and Bizarre Heroes

Read the ongoing adventures of the Megaton Man Universe in the Ms. Megaton Man™ Maxi-Series by Don Simpson! New prose chapter and art every Friday.
All characters, character names, likenesses, words and pictures on this page are ™ and © Don Simpson 2020, all rights reserved.

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