Saturday, December 03, 2016

Garden of the Flesh by Gilbert Hernandez

OK. Even for a creator who does weird comics practically every year, Garden of the Flesh is particularly weird. Here Gilbert Hernandez retells a big chunk of the first book of the Christian Bible as a series of fuck-fest vignettes starting with Adam and Eve naked and humping in that 'ol garden called Eden. And he does it in a relentless two wide panels for each of his small-format pages, with (deliberately?) stiffly posed figures and lots of unrealistically spurting fluids.

Yes, Biblical sex comics in a deliberately crude style. Was Hernandez inspired by Crumb's The Book of Genesis, Illustrated from a few years ago, or did this Adam-and-Eve stroke book come from some other wellspring? Is this some kind of reverse Jack Chick tract? Hernandez has always come across in his interviews as more instinctual than calculating, so there may not be any single reason why, no matter how much we search for one.

More importantly: is the fact the the sex here is all very bland and hetero some kind of clue? Is Hernandez mellowing in his middle age from the pan-sexual Birdland of his youth, or is Garden of the Flesh's relentless focus on sex as one-man, one-woman, two or three acceptable positions and some gratuitous oral a commentary on Biblical literalists? (Or on fundamentalists?)

It has to be said that Garden of the Flesh is a not particularly sexy sex comic, and I have to assume that Hernandez knows this. He's done sex comics before; he can move the bodies around to make them more appealing. So, if he doesn't do so here, it must be on purpose.

I find it hard to recommend Garden of the Flesh. Compared to most of Hernandez's work, it's stiff and mannered and dull and flat, and I can't give you an coherent reason why it is. I think this one is just for completists: either of Hernandez or sex comics.

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