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THE LEATHER NUN

A Review By: Ella Wredenfors

Ella Wredenfors writes the arts, culture and comics blog at Run, Paint, Run, Run.

One of the things I have managed to do is lay my hands on a copy of Paul Gravett & Peter Stanbury’s The Leather Nun and Other Incredibly Strange Comics. This book has been passed round my house, from hand to hand, over the last few days, accompanied by gasps, groans and giggles. Though some of the entries are strange and unsettling at best, utterly offensive at worst, even the most PC, delicately tempered person will find themselves being intrigued and fascinated by what this gloriously odd little book contains.

It almost works as a catalogue of the macabre, almost certainly boosting the sales of some of the more recent, still in print, dodgy works. Perhaps these would have sank thankfully under the waves of graphic literacy effluence, but it’s too late to complain. They are released on the world now, and apparently mild mannered Paul Gravett is their chief champion.

Opening it at random, you are greeting again and again by inexplicible images, of erotic disfunction, socio-political oddities and incongruous, unthinking juxtaposition. I almost fell off my chair when I opened the book at “Teen-Age Romances” and my eye fell upon one female character saying of another “That little cheat will do anything to hold Dick.” (Incidentally, there is an addictive collection of romance comics and other oddities to be found at Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies).

In itself the book is a handy little size, and gives us little glimpses into these strange comics. It treads a very narrow path, managing to provide enough details and images to assert the strangeness of the works in question, but not enough to assuage our curiosity. It is a skilful tease.

The blurb on the front, from the foolhardy Jonathan Ross says “The perfect gift for any comic-book lover or pervert in your life.” This could be indicative of something, since my house mate just picked it up and remarked it on being a suitable present for her brother. As far as I know, he doesn’t like comics.

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