BEM No. 28 Cover by Brian Bolland

June 19, 2021|In General

BEM – or Bemusing Magazine was a British comics fanzine of the 1970s and 80s, and I’ve had a scan of this cover in my files for a bit, meaning to do a new colour version.

An event this past week was on my mind when I happened to scroll by Bolland’s cover art in my files. Harley Quinn has her own adult-oriented cartoon series right now, and it was reported that DC Entertainment nixxed Batman going down – performing cunnilingus that is – on Harley Quinn in an episode because they sell action figures of Batman to kids.

This was met with some derision by fans given that Batman in recent years was seen to have sex with Catwoman on a rooftop in his own comic book, and in another his penis made a cameo.

For many, refusing Batman giving the gift of oral pleasure to a woman was an example of toxic masculinity. If men expect fellatio, women have an equal right to expect cunnilingus. Real men do go down on women.

Now, I have no problems with sexuality in comics. Early in my career I drew an explicit story but balked at doing excessive violence. To me, it’s the context that matters along with the underlying reason to show the sexuality.

In the cases mentioned above, this was sex to satisfy prurient fanboy thrills. “Ooo, look! Batman’s doin’ it! And look at the ass on Catwoman/Harley/whomever! Man! I’d do her!” It’s a pointless thing to do. If you want porn, go watch porn.

I tend to think Batman is more of an all-ages thing, with plenty of room for more mature topics in the many mini-series and one-shots his popularity affords. But the lewd sex? No. Where in all this is what we see in the majority of mature-themed TV shows, where sex is treated as a normal and healthy part of the characters’ lives? Sure, Batman and Catwoman date, they kiss, get in bed and we cut to the next day or fade to black. That the producers and editors greenlight negative sexual portrayals to titillate their audiences says to me that maybe there should be different people in charge.

Comics aren’t just for kids anymore goes the saying that’s been championed in North America for decades now. I heartily agree, but being dirty is not being mature, it’s merely explicit. And it’s no wonder that many people in and out of comics don’t respect it and won’t buy it. Want me to embrace sexual themes? Sure. No problem. Just show me something different than a puritanical abhorrence to a normal, natural part of humanity on one side, or a cheap depiction that degrades us all on the other.

Anyways, there’s a Batman cover below that is nicely subversive of the current state of affairs. As ever, new colour and packaging by me.

BEM No. 28 Cover

Published version.

BEM No. 28 cover by Brian Bolland

Original art scan from somewhere on the web.

Comic book production art by Scott Dutton

Made production ready.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

New colour version.

Batman and Catwoman - The Many Ways of Love

Batman version.