Sex Sells: Sex and Violence in Comic Books

Blog #2

Both sex and violence are very common in today’s popular culture, and especially in today’s Comic Books. Either someone is interested for the fact that they enjoy sex and violence, or they are simply curious about sex and violence but regardless of the reasoning, it sells! Sex and violence are one of the top sellers, period. Sex is a primitive instinct, from a marketing point of view sexual content can have many different effects on viewers such as emotional, physical, and mental which in turn intrigues their minds and builds almost a bond. But do some comics take it to far?

When discussing sex and violence as a focus within Comic books, I went further into research on sexual violence such as rape, sadism, and comparing genders with violence. From the online dictionary (at I found that sadomasochism is the combination of sadism and masochism, in particular the deriving of pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting or submitting to physical or emotional abuse. Its a condition of disturbed and destructive personality marked by the presence of both sadistic and masochistic traits. Psychologically it’s the combination of sadistic and masochistic elements in one person, characterized by both aggressive and submissive periods in relationships with others.

Here are some examples of rape, sadism, and sexual violence in comic books. One example is from Watchmen, where Sally is being raped, and beaten. She, although a superhero herself is placed as submissive and weaker than her equal, Eddie. It was sadly very easy to find multiple examples of sex and or violence within the comic book history. I am not here to tell what is right or wrong, whats appropriate and whats “taking it to far”. Im simply sharing the idea that it is very common, almost overused the amount of sex and violence today. Yet, this stops nothing because as long as people buy it, they will continue to sell it. I believe that in an appropriate amount it should be accepted. Even when it comes to difficult topics such as rape, I think people should know what its like to have to go through that as long as they mention precautions you should take to keep it from happening to you. There should be some sort of guidelines there helping its readers be safe.



Here is another rape scene found far to easily online. There is so much emotion behind these few panels, you connect with the person this is happening to, wether they are portrayed as a good or bad person within the comic.

We also have the scene from Watchmen. This is to show sex within comics. The act is welcomed, until Jon uses his powers and scares her. Love is important in this panel as well, because he comments and says he could never love her as she loved him. This is due to many reasons, but I think this is appropriate. Her body is real, not unnaturally busty or muscular; her emotions behind the act itself are real and her reaction to a change is believable. This makes for a good read.





All in all, I feel that sex and violence are used in almost every popular comic in some way shape or form. It may be hidden symbols, or blunt and obvious but it is always there. There are some hispanic comics I came across that are full of sex, most commonly the Brazilian ones I looked at. I ask the questions, do some comics take it to far? And is the reason sex and violence are so common due to enjoyment for the readers or simply because it sells well? I believe in an appropriate level (unless of course it’s an erotic comic of some sort) that it should be acceptable because it does connect to a reader on more levels than just sexually or physically.



  3 comments for “Sex Sells: Sex and Violence in Comic Books

  1. February 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Why do comics, when using rape as a character-illustrative storytelling tool, need to educate its readers on how to avoid rape?

    Also, what is the source of the second image? I recognize it, but don’t recall its origin. What are these Brazillian comics you mention?

  2. jrandal2
    February 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I think that sex is used by a lot of artists and writers because it is what sells (coughFiftyShadesOfGreycough) through a number of different mediums. What’s especially sad to me is how manga is particularly seen as a mean to display sexuality in the characters. Even in Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story, his drawing of “manga” (pg. 43) includes a panty-shot of Jessica, as if you couldn’t have manga drawings without the exploitation of the female body. I haven’t noticed this to be the case in many comics that I’ve read that haven’t fallen under the “manga” sub-category, and I know that manga exists that doesn’t have the unnecessary sexual imagery, so it’s a pity that comics and manga are associated with this image of sex. This is ironic, because people also associate comics with children, or view comics as a medium that you should grow out of with maturity (or whatever people think, I don’t know and don’t understand it, hence why I’m in this class). I do have to disagree with you a few points that you made though, in that I don’t think that comics, or any other medium, has a justifiable or appropriate amount of “rape scenes”. If anything, I think that rape scenes normalize the act to a point where we still know that it’s horrible and would never want it to happen to us, while also associating it with acceptable because it is broadcasted to large audiences who become used to seeing such graphic acts. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be part of the art form, because that gets into issues on freedom of speech and I think that one shouldn’t limit artistic expression. I just don’t think that rape scenes add anything positive to society nor do they help people cope or teach them anything. Rape is used as a plot device or to show something about someone’s character. I also think that that scene in Watchmen is not about sex at all, it’s just the tip of the iceberg because Jon doesn’t give her his undivided attention during, what is for Laurie, a very intimate moment. What Laurie wants from sex, emotional connection, is not what she thinks Jon gets from sex because he physically disconnects himself from her in order to continue his research. I think that sex was used to show the flaws in their relationship, and is used throughout Watchmen to reveal a character’s identity, which is a major theme throughout Watchmen.

  3. Mary
    February 15, 2013 at 12:20 am

    I think another reason about why sex and violence are so prevalent in comics is because of the idea of the taboo. Sex is not something openly condoned in Western society, and many schools preach abstinence or tend to focus on the consequences of sex (becoming pregnant, STDs, etc.). Violence is again something that is looked down upon. Through the medium of comics (and many, many other forms), sex and violence may be translated with no lasting repercussions on the reader as an observer, immune to the actions within the story. These scenes thus create a discourse for the reader where these taboos may be taken outside of the physical realm and provide a fascinating view into items not normally addressed. However, by melding the two in the form of rape, it becomes something perhaps more unsettling and problematic as jrandal2 mentions, perhaps simply because it is a fusion of those two taboos of violence and sex. I think it is interesting how a major demographic is young adults according to this article by Brett Schenker. Because school is a major instrument in instructing people in observing social norms and a large amount of readers of comics are of the age to be in school or to have just graduated, comics offer that kind of titillating thrill for doing something that may be perceived as “wrong.” I think it would be interesting to explore reactions of readers to reading “excessively” violent or sexual comics. Is there a sense of guilt or shame? Do they respond negatively to these actions (as in, relate more with the victim, are morally opposed to the perpetrator)? Would they continue reading the series in question?

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