Oglaf: Sexual Phantasmagoria (NSFW)

Warning: Many of the links, images and references in following post are NSFW (not safe for work) and some of them might not be safe for reading in mixed company, due to sexual explicitness.

birdmen2-2

From “Birdmen”

I remember the last time I tried to play Dungeons & Dragons with a couple of guys I had played RPGs with throughout middle school. It was the summer after 9th grade and it seemed that our near-constant obsession with sex had finally fully saturated our other pastimes. Describing a scenario in which our heroes encountered a ferocious giantess warrior, one of my buddies, in his role as DM, declared that she picked up the halfling I was playing and used him as a living dildo. “She shoves you in and out her pussy!” He cackled and the other players cackled as well.  I was annoyed.  Not because I was necessarily above such puerile sex jokes, but because it disrupted the flow of the game, and because I got the feeling that my dedication to gaming was beginning to make me the outsider in a group of friends who were moving on to other interests.  But this was not the first time ridiculous sex has infiltrated our D&D narrative, we were adolescent boys after all, and role-playing games are a great way to explore various possibilities with little to no consequences. RPGs amp up the kind of wish-fulfillment present in superhero comic fandom through active engagement with scenarios that ask us to more directly make ethical choices and apply our imaginative powers.

whatsnew

From Phil Foglio’s What’s New with Phil & Dixie special and intentionally banal “Sex in D&D” episode

Despite playing D&D and other role-playing games on and off since those days, those kinds of sexualized scenarios and humor (like even more adolescent jokes along the lines of Dave Sim’s Red Sophia) fell away and were no longer a part of the games—mostly forgotten except as a way to put down other less sophisticated ways of gaming and/or to join in the fun of ridiculing a certain stereotype of man-child gamer we didn’t want to have anything to  do with.  Mostly forgotten, that is, until I stumbled upon Oglaf.com, which has become my favorite web comic (and I don’t follow many webcomics). Oglaf is a delight. It is an absurdist development of that sex-drenched sword-and-sorcery world that manages to make fun of the latent adolescent desires of the genre while remaining sex positive, queer-friendly and generally ridiculing sexual desire—male hetero desire most frequently—while remaining unrelentingly explicit pornography in the pursuit of exploring the humorous (and occasionally dark) turns of those choices and sexual imagination.

Clearly, influenced by Phil Foglio’s old What’s New (with Phil and Dixie) comics that appeared in Dragon Magazine at various times in the 1980s and 1990s, with their recurring joke regarding one day having a strip focusing on “Sex in D&D,” Oglaf goes beyond that promise to build a fantasy world that plays with a mix of high fantasy, sword & sorcery and porn fantasy tropes.  It has a kind of gonzo sensibility that uses the comics medium to accomplish what even the best developed comedic porn film parody cannot do, which is emphasize the absurdity of sex itself. Even a porn comedy like Bi-tanic or Sailor Poon lets the funny drain away when it comes to the actual sex it depicts—Oglaf is far beyond all that. From the very first strip which features a the apprentice to an evil wizardess who forbids him from having sex and whose spooge from masturbating transforms into cumsprites who run off to tell on him, the comic has no bounds in the way it will twist the fantastic into a hilarious sexual phantasmagoria.

from "Gifted"

from “Gifted”

gifted2

From “Gifted 2″

Take for example the story of the fellator.  In “Gifted” an adventurer is “cursed” to become the world’s best giver of blowjobs.  At the end of the first strip featuring this character he is embarrassed of his new power despite wanting to be able to brag about it.  But in “Gifted 2” his fellating ability leads to him saving his town from a marauder who offers his targets a chance to send out a sexual champion to defeat him or else he’d lay waste to the town.  Admitting his accursed “gift” for the first time, the fellator goes down to meet him, explaining “This is my first time with a guy, so…”  Upon defeating the marauder with the satisfaction of sleep-inducing blowjob, the adventurer is carried on the shoulders of the townspeople and he cries out “Oh my god! Cock is amazing!”  Embracing his gift and his new-found love of dick, he becomes the king, using his queer powers to the benefit of the town.   The scenario is ridiculous, but very funny in the context of the town hero or champion fantasy story trope.  Part of what makes the joke radical in my eyes is that in overcoming his shame, he transforms his “curse” into a gift, not only for himself, but for his people.

In another strip, the ventriloquized wooing of the classic Cyrano-like love triangle collapses when the two men fall into the bushes beneath the balcony to make love, turned on by their shared words.  But that is just fun and funny, not as bizarre as the world of Oglaf’s lineage of all-male barbarians ruled by Kronar (a recurring character) who eschew women and give birth to children through their buttholes.  Elsewhere in the world, the eternal winter of the literal Snow-Queen can only be broken if she can be sexually satisfied, but after countless men lose tongues and pricks to frostbite in their attempts, an adventurer woman succeeds with a strap-on. Spring returns.

In “Pea” a princess complains about the limited opportunities available to her as compared to men, but rather than take the guise of a boy to enter a tournament or go on an adventure, she dons a mustache and strap-on to attend a have a sex romp with gay boys at a tavern.

The shock of the queer in the comic undermines a genre where the uber-masculine hyper-hetero adventures of a Conan or the inherently misogynist society of John Norman’s Gor are the norm. And the frequent depictions of queer pleasure and sex does not fall into trap of being primarily that of queer women performing for the pleasure of straight men­ (though at least one strip explicitly addresses that)—instead gay pleasure between men is shown as varied and delightful—something that even those leery of it remain open to.  Oglaf uses humor and fantasy to throw off the banality of typical sexual fantasy by taking it to its absurd ends.  If there is one recurring theme it is how our desires, when allowed to become wishes in a world where wishes can be granted, lead to the most bizarre consequences. And while some of those consequences would be as undesirable as a horn growing out of the back of your head, the humor and openness of the series reminds the reader of the very queer possibilities of all sex.

That is not to say that Oglaf depicts a perfect world. There is a dark side to its humor and it can depict humiliations and sex coerced through magic and subterfuge and through dominance.  When a king wants his court wizard to transform him to look like the duke so he can sleep with the duke’s wife (a variation on a scene from Excalibur), he realizes it is easier to order the court wizard to transform himself into the duke’s wife and the king fucks him instead.  Ivan, the evil wizardess’ apprentice is the victim of her whims. He is frequently humiliated and compelled to pleasure the elven ambassador and at one point his penis magically removed and hidden in different places in the castle.  This is not to say that those strips don’t have humor, too – but it can be unsettling humor, that is not for everyone.  The sword and sorcery setting and the cartoony art takes some of the bite out of it, but Oglaf is not for those who find such things taboo and never something to make jokes around.  Yet, that is part of what I really like about it—the strip’s willingness to penetrate all sexual taboos, or to just go in the bizarre sexual directions possible in a world with shapeshifters, princes transformed into frogs, and Old Testament gods wreak fiery justice on their people for wearing mixed fabrics.  The strip is also drawn to titillate. Being a porn world, the men and women are generally drawn to be nubile and conventionally attractive. It could use a wider variety of body types. My biggest complaint is that like a lot of fantasy worlds, somehow most people in Oglaf still tend to be white.

navaan

Navaan – the virgin vampire assassin – and also one of the few featured characters that is clearly a woman of color.

Oglaf is not all about sex. There are individual stories that just play off fantasy and FRPG tropes, like my favorite, “Lair of the Trapmaster.” Structurally, the comic works because of its effective mix of one-off stories, longer series and recurring characters that slowly build and interact in ways that feel very organic and that readers don’t necessarily see coming.  The “fungod/funworm” arc is brilliant mystery adventure involving a god of fakery disguised as a god of fun in the form of delirium-causing worm, which involves the vampire-assassin Navaan who first makes an appearance in “The Immaculate City” arc that involves Ivan the apprentice from earlier strips.  If the comic were just a series of one-off sex jokes in a fantasy setting it might still be funny, but it would not be as compelling over time. The web comic also includes easter eggs, hidden pages and alt-text with additional jokes than can make clicking around the site a hunt for funny tidbits.

Oglaf is updated every Sunday.  It is drawn and written by Trudy Cooper (writer and illustrator of Platinum Grit) and Doug Bayne (both Australians). According to the Oglaf site, the comic began as an attempt to create pornography that devolved into sex comedy nearly immediately (which makes sense, because sex is often funny and should be fun).  Collected print editions (with extra material) are available and there is a fairly comprehensive wiki covering the various characters, arcs and features of the Oglaf world at Oglaf.wikia.com

Some of my favorite one-off strips:

But really, there are so many great strips this list could change daily depending on my mood. I recommend starting from the beginning and just working your way through, just be wary of the site’s navigation which is not as straight-forward as it could be.  Some strips have multiple pages, but when they don’t the “Next Page” link brings you to the next story automatically, but sometimes there is a separate “Epilogue” link as well which shows some final panels in the previous strip for an add-on joke/resolution.

If you have a taste for the queer, for the weird, for the fantastic, phantasmagoric and the occasionally dark, Oglaf might just be for you.

8 responses to “Oglaf: Sexual Phantasmagoria (NSFW)

  1. Great analysis, man. I’ve been a fan of Oglaf for a while now, and you managed to pin down quite a few of the reasons why… The tattling cum-sprites make me laugh every time.

  2. I’m fairly certain the old testament god was upset at someone peeling a banana from the wrong end, not the mixed fabrics bit.

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