A Cartoon Guide to Sex

Larry Gonick, Author, Christine DeVault, Joint Author HarperResource $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-273431-0
If others have shown that sex can be tragic, existential, fun, meaningful or meaningless, Gonick (The Cartoon Guide to Physics, etc.) and DeVault prove it can also be raucously entertaining. With an absurdist sensibility, the pair begin with the reproductive predilections of other species (female dung beetles probably won't consider a male unless he presents her with a fair-sized piece of dung), and then move on to such topics as anatomy and communication, before homing in on sex itself. They juxtapose straight-faced narration (""Dealing with our sexuality is a lifelong process that never ends. Well, eventually it does end"") with comical, minimalist drawings and dialogue (""Grandma, can necrophilia ever happen by mutual consent?"" ""Read my will""). Despite the occasional generalization (""Looks matter to everyone, but they matter more to men""), the authors do a good job of conveying lots of information within an inherently limiting format, whether they are detailing methods of contraception, discussing the effect of the media on sex crimes or characterizing how lesbian and gay dating patterns contrast with heterosexual ones. If the book has a flaw, it's in its mixed signals: some of the pictures are too risqu for adolescents, while much of the material will be redundant for anyone older. Fortunately, however, the humor is both fundamental and sophisticated, so even the most sexually seasoned will find something to laugh about. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 05/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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