In Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character refers to a sexual encounter as “the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.” In that case, he should try reading XXXenophile; it could be the most fun he’ll ever have, period.

OK, so maybe I’m making unwarranted assumptions. Not everyone will be amused or aroused by the stories in these books. In fact, there are certainly people out there who would be downright offended by them. Even people with healthy libidos might be put off by the kinkiness of some of the stories. After all, a xenophile is “a person attracted to that which is foreign or strange”… and strange is a recurring theme. So people with more “vanilla” tastes might not like these adventures.

But the rest of us will probably love them.

Most of the stories are written in a science-fiction or fantasy setting. This opens up doors to a wide variety of scenarios, involving genies, aliens (of many shapes and proclivities), demons, time travellers, dryads, clones, voodoo, robots, nymphs, the end of the world, centaurs, alternate dimensions, ghosts, telepaths, dragons, etc. Very little is off-limits; if the notion of a human having hot explicit sex with a horny incubus or a non-humanoid creature from another planet bothers you, you’re probably better off sticking to more conventional erotica for your, um, “graphic” fiction. But if you have a taste for the off-beat or kinky, and don’t mind also mixing fun with your sex, it’s well worth a look.

Folgio’s perverse sense of humour and humorous sense of perversity are served exquisitely by his art. He has a real knack for accentuating the erotic appeal of both men and women in a versatile, cartoony style. Too many male artists are capable of eroticising only women, and turn the men into testosterone-poisoned brutes. Foglio avoids this trap

 If you’re looking for an academic or artistic excuse to read XXXenophile, take note of Foglio’s approach to the art chores. He scripts and pencils all of the stories himself, but each story (there are typically three to five in each issue) is inked by a different
artist. This gives the series an overall consistency in the art, along with a considerable variety due to the differing styles of the inkers. Some follow Foglio’s pencil strokes line by line, but still add their own distinctive touch; others crosshatch, shade, and enhance as if they were inking their own pencils, giving the art a very different flavour… but still recognizably Foglio.

But most people will read XXXenophile for the hot, steamy sex scenes. These are not R-rated peeks at erotica thrown in here and there to show how “mature” the comic is… the art is often quite explicit, showing all the “naughty bits” in detail, even in close up. There’s a reason there are three X’s in the title, you know. See the attached example, featuring a man trapped in a giant spider’s web, and his female elf companion’s efforts to make him more “comfortable”.

One disappointment I’ve had with the series is a absence of gay-male material. Most of the material focuses on male/female or (to a lesser extent) female/female sex. There are some interesting twists on this (such as male scientist encountering a female version of himself from another dimension, or a woman who magically grows a penis and gets to try it out), and some forays into bestiality and group sex that makes a little mutual cock-sucking sound pretty tame by comparison. In the letter column, Foglio regretfully explained that such material would hurt sales. The last issue issue finally broke that barrier, with a very brief male/male sex scene at the end of a “vibrator repairman” story. When I saw Foglio at a convention, I told him that I appreciated the inclusion. “Glad to do it,” was his casual reply.

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