Sunday, July 22, 2007

Number 163

Kink From Under The Counter

It's hard for me to believe, grizzled and jaded as I am today, that I was ever young and naïve. But I was. It was 1965, I was 18. A friend and I went into a bookstore. In some pre-arranged buy, my friend gave the clerk $3.00, which got him a digest-sized booklet, very slim. It was a black-and-white comic book called The Passion Pit.

The booklet was by Eneg, an artist I'd never heard of. Eneg was the pseudonym for Gene Bilbrew, an African-American comic book artist who turned to fetish illustrating and became well-known in that subterranean community. Bilbrew was born in 1923 and died in 1974 at the young age of 51. You can google his name and come up with several sites, some of them selling his printed work.

If this were published today it would be considered tame. There just isn't that forbidden thrill to spike-heeled boots, masks, whips and chains, or rubber clothes, not anymore. The mainstream co-opted those images some years ago. I saw a lot of them when I watched MTV with my son in the early 1990s and the heavy metal bands were thrashing around with models right out of Irving Klaw's shop in New York City.

A note on the copy I used for the scans: I found a pirate copy of The Passion Pit back in the late 1970s. It was called Chinese Torture, and Eneg's name was removed. The printing was not that good, photographed as it was from an original printed copy. Mine is a second generation from that generation. So if there are details that are muddy I apologize. Some of it isn't my fault. Some of the original printing flaws due to Bilbrew's sloppy original art are still present: There are lettering guide lines visible in some panels, even some pencil marks under his drawings. He also didn't rule his panel borders very straight. Personally, I like that sort of thing. It reminds me that a real live human being sat down at a drawing board and made these pictures, and was a sloppy workman with some of it. Just like the rest of us are at times in our everyday work.

I also get a kick out of his spelling: "Bhudda" and "strenght" show no editor was involved in this comic.

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