Pornomicon . . . derived from the Greek Word “Porne”, meaning prostitute. But the word on the whole means nothing to me.
—Logan, The Pornomicon 5
Le Pornomicon is a 2005 French-language one-shot homoerotic horror comic book created by writer/artist Logan Kowalsky (credited here simply as “Logan”) by H & O Editions; it was translated into English by Class Comics in 2006. While long out of print, it is still available as an ebook from Class Comics’ website.
The first known erotic comic based on Lovecraft’s Mythos was “Tales of the Leather Nun’s Grandmother” in the underground comix Tales from the Leather Nun (1973, Last Gasp), and ever since there has been a steady addition to the oeuvre of erotic Mythos comic books and graphic novels. For the most part, however, these works are typically created for a heterosexual audience, with women as the primary focus of all sex acts and male-on-female (or, increasingly, tentacle-on-female) pairings making up the majority of all sex acts. A rather smaller cross-section of such works dip into LGBTQ relationships or focus extensively on non-heterosexual intercourse.
One of the first of these was John Blackburn’s Coley series (1989-1999), which featured the bisexual Coley Cochran, who occasionally encountered the servants or descendants of the Old Ones; Noé and Barreiro’s El Convent Infernal (The Convent of Hell, 1996) includes several lesbian scenes, as well as a sexually-explicit copy of the Necronomicon and a notorious tentacle sex scene. The latter work might well have been part of Logan’s inspiration for Le Pornomicon, focusing as it does on the eponymous tome and penetrative sex featuring penis-headed tentacles.
In this respect, readers may suspect an influence from Japanese hentai on one or both works, and there’s probably some truth to that. However, given the focus on size, penetration, and masculinity in Le Pornomicon, the tentacle works well to foster the visual rhetoric of the story when it makes an appearance, taking things from the cartoonishly oversized to beyond anything humanly possible.
The visual grammer permitted by the tentacle is extremely useful to the pornographer. With no restriction on length, it permits penetration without blocking the view. It can also be used as a form of restraint, permiting multiple penetration, sexualised bondage and east of access. Best of all for the tentacle as a pornographic device, while it may often look suspiciously like a penis, to the extent of possessing a foreskin or glans, or even ejaculating upon climax, it is not a sexual organ by definition.
—The Erotic Anime Movie Guide 58
It perhaps needs to be said that there is not a single homoerotic aesthetic; the gamut of LGBTQ+ works encompasses a vast range of body types, relationships, preferences, etc. Le Pornomicon tends toward burly, over-muscled, often hairy subjects; the genitals are cartoonishly oversized and the holes are elastic, the relationships are almost entirely purely sexual with no romantic bonds, blushing nervousness, consideration of feelings, etc. While some folks might reductively say “Well, it’s porn,” not all porn is like that. Not even all homoerotic Mythos fiction; “Herbert West in Love” (2012) by Molly Tanzer and “Herburt East: Refuckinator” (2012) by Lula Lisbon both exhibit very different aesthetics, despite both focusing on the homoerotic potential of “Herbert West–Reanimator.”
Part of the reason Logan focuses so slightly on the human relationships is because the main character of the book is not human, but the eponymous Pornomicon and its associated Mythos. The story is set across two time periods, two brief encounters united by the presence of the Pornomicon, and in this way it is reminiscent of the Loc-Nar in the animated film Heavy Metal (1981). Like that object, the presence of the Pornomicon is associated with mental and physical corruption, introducing elements of body horror and the monstrously alien as the humans are possessed, transformed, and eventually subsumed by inhuman carnality. In the universe of the Pornomicon, Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth are inherently sexual beings, but unlike in the works of Lovecraft or other writers who focus on these entities having sexual relations with human beings to spawn progeny, there is no focus on reproduction. Cthulhu does not impregnate these burly male characters, they become a part of him.
Which could be read as a form of homosexual panic, or a reflection of the implicit bias against sexuality in slasher films where couples who sneak off for a bit of illicit fun receive a brutal comeuppance as they are macheted to death—although it seems likely that neither of these was consciously intended. Rather, Logan offers a pornographic horror comic with no happy ending, the encounters with the Pornomicon are by their nature lustful and end badly for those who tamper with the Great Old Ones, but that would probably be true for anyone of any gender or sexuality. The unbiased nature of Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth in taking all victims equally only appears to be biased because the story focuses exclusively on homosexual men.
Logan also takes visual inspiration from Mythos-related works. In particular, the background of page 10 is annotated “Apres Mike Mignola” and directly references the visual imagery in the Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (1994) series.
Above, left: Mike Mignola, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #3.
Above, right: Logan, The Pornomicon.
Sometime after the publication of Le Pornomicon, Logan began a series of illustrations titled The Pornomicon Legacy, but so far there is no indication of another volume forthcoming.
Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).
One thought on ““Le Pornomicon” (2005) by Logan Kowalsky”
I thought I remembered that someone like S. Clark Wilson or R. Crumb made some Lovecraftian allusions in ZAP COMIX or similar underground comic books, which would have been earlier than the “Leather Nun” story you cited; but skimming several issues from 1973 and before, I couldn’t find any—although some of the art has some violent tentacular images that might be related. I don’t remember whether you mention any of those artists in your Lovecraft book. Of course those guys were mostly concerned with breaking taboos, with sexual and violent imagery that was described as pornographic but not particularly lust-provoking.
I was probably conflating in my memory some of Howard Cruse’s work from the 1980’s with this earlier underground comic art.