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Sex Advice From Cartoonists

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Q: "Why are cartoonists good in bed?" A: "I have to quibble with the premise of the question."

Emily Flake, 34 

Illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker and many others
http://eflakeagogo.com/

Why are cartoonists good in bed?
Are they? I think that's a terrible lie.

What's the best way to pick up a cartoonist?
Get a five-dollar bill, make 'em dance, and just put it on their forehead. That usually does it.

Has being a cartoonist gotten you laid?
It's gotten me not laid, probably. I can't think of any specific instances in which it's worked in my favor. I think that the things that make up being a cartoonist are, by and large, the exact same things that keep you from getting laid — pretty much being awkward and sad.

You don't have any fanboys or anything?
I've gotten a couple of creepy fan letters, but they're not the kind of people that you engage. I've gotten the odd friend request — or friend demand, actually. I've gotten friend demands.

What events from your personal life have been featured in your work, if any?
The Lulu strip, I would say, is usually based on something that went on in my life. I would say about ninety percent of what goes in a cartoon is, if not from real life, at least from some conversation I've had. I don't name names, but I draw faces. The awkwardness of leaving a one-night stand or the ridiculous things that people say when they break up with you — those have definitely found their way into a couple of cartoons.

I'm a straight girl, but I think I have feelings for my best friend, who's a woman. What should I do?
Watch Buffy, and just do what they do.

My new girlfriend is way more sexually experienced than I am. How do I step up my game?
I would say you pretty much have to fake it 'til you make it. Because unless you go get experience with other women, you're just going to have to experience it with her. Or you could just ask your mom.

My husband wants an open relationship. I'm kind of into the idea, but how can we make it work?
You won't. It never, never, never, never works. It's cute that you think it can, but no. I've known a couple of people who have tried it, and it's always, always bullshit. I tried to pull that once when I was nineteen or so. "Maybe we should have an open relationship!" But, basically, what that meant was, "I don't want to bang you anymore; I just don't have the balls to say it." Yeah, I'm pretty skeptical of the whole thing.

My girlfriend is good friends with her last ex. How can I ask her to ditch him without sounding like a jealous douche?
You can't. You're basically going to sound like a jealous douche. You can either own that or not own it. As long as they're not actively banging anymore, you can't tell somebody who to be friends with.

I'm thirty-four and newly single with a kid. Is it kosher, on the first few dates, not to mention that I have a teenage daughter?
Since it's a teenage daughter, I kind of feel like that's less weird than not mentioning that you have, like, a five-year old at home; at that point, it's almost like you have a roommate. But I'd say it's better just to get that out in the open right away. Because the longer you wait, the weirder it is that you didn't say anything about the fact that you have a kid.

My last three ex-girlfriends broke up with me and then crawled back to me. How do I keep myself from getting broken up with in the first place?
Um, stop using phrases like "crawled back to me?" 

Rick Altergott, 50

Author of Doofus Omnibus and much more

Why are cartoonists good in bed?
Most cartoonists are pretty empathetic. And that translates into wanting to get that "you're good in bed" reaction from another person. But I'm married, so I haven't had a lot of outside experience in over ten years on that one.

What's the best way to pick up a cartoonist?
Cartooning has a very singular kind of insider language. If you can plug into that, you will instantly be drawn into a different kind of inner circle and gain the confidence of another person. Almost instantly. If you want to talk about inking brushes or pens or what kind of paper or even something as broad as "who's your favorite cartoonist?" "Do you know Robert Crumb?" "Do you know the Hernandez brothers?" Once you get the answer, you can fine-tune it from there. Before you know it, you're probably going to end up in bed.

Do you find that a lot of women are familiar with cartooning at that level?
My wife is a cartoonist, and a couple of years ago, I would have said "not so much," but it's kind of amazing how many women are either practicing it or interested in it or have more of an awareness of it than before. It used to be such a boys' club. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if more than half of the people doing cartoons of some sort are women, outside of the mainstream like Marvel.

Has your wife ever objected to anything you've drawn?
A little bit. My wife has drawn some pretty shocking things too. So I would say that, in my particular case, she's a little hard to shock. We've both done X-rated comics before. Most of what she objects to would be more sexist than raunchy. We're kind of beyond that shock-value kind of thing. She'd object to some kind of coarse thing or "that idea's really cheesy or sexist" or something like that. That's where she would try to shame me into going another way.

Before you were married, did you have any groupies? Has being a cartoonist gotten you laid?
No, not really. I met some pretty nice girls through the business of cartooning. Back in the '90s, I was at a party with Jaime Hernandez, and this cute girl came up to us, and she was one of his fans. And then the same night, there was another girl who was a fan of my comic, Doofus, and she was not nearly as pretty. And both of us were like, "There's your fan, and here's my fan." But I wouldn't say either of them was a groupie. I've never had someone come on to me as a result of me being a cartoonist.

What events from your personal life have been featured in your work, if any?
The character I'm known for is named Doofus. He's a guy who doesn't get a lot of sex, but he's interested in things like sniffing panties — the trappings of sex without getting into the physicality of it. And that's not because he doesn't really want to — that's just how it works out for him. That's ostensibly one of the humorous parts of the character. That doesn't translate into my personal life, but I have had times in my life where I could certainly relate to that and felt unloved and unwanted by women.

What about the Miss Juniper comics on dating? Where did the inspiration for that come from?
I wanted a sexy girl character who I liked to draw. I wanted to develop her a little more because I realized that she had been around almost as long as Doofus, and I hadn't really done much with her. I had a bunch of gag ideas about dating and thought, "Oh, this would be perfect." I built them around her a little more; it kind of organically worked out.

My new girlfriend is way, way more sexually experienced than I am. How do I step up my game?
In my day, we used to read Penthouse Forum. Even if you didn't have the experience yet, you could certainly fake it. Or at least find out about things you haven't done yet and try to talk about them with some kind of authority while you're trying to get your more-experienced girlfriend to show you how to do it. I think most women like to be able to show the guy how to do things. And I don't think there are very many guys out there who wouldn't be receptive to that.

My girlfriend is good friends with her last ex. How can I ask her to ditch him without sounding like a jealous douche?
I've had some comics ideas along those lines; it's a theme I've always liked. It frustrates the hell out of guys when there's this other guy who's able to chat and be one of the girls and have girl-talk with a girl. It's even more maddening if the girl is your current girlfriend and this guy has history with her. But you don't want to sound like a douche. You could try to be the sensitive guy and be like, "Oh, this hurts me so much. Can you please not talk to him?" That's probably what I would do. See if that works. It probably wouldn't, but that's a good question!

My last three ex-girlfriends broke up with me and then crawled back to me. How do I keep myself from getting broken up with in the first place?
Wow! That doesn't sound like it could possibly be a real question. I don't understand how that happens anyway. I've never had anybody come back to me.

Really?
Nope. I just have to wonder, why would they come back? It's like, "I dumped you. Then I played around and it sucked so bad that I came back." And it happens three times? It's like, what's this guy doing to draw these kinds of situations out of people? It must be a good confidence-builder for you. It must make you feel like you're this amazing guy. Either that or women around you are just desperate. Why are you attracting women with such bad self-esteem? Is it financial — they have to come back to you because they're desperately in need of money or a place to live to get off the street? It sounds like you need to ask yourself some other questions before you can get an answer to that one.

Anders Nilsen, 38

Author of Big Questions
http://www.andersbrekhusnilsen.com/

Why are cartoonists good in bed?
I think I'm going to have to quibble on the premise of the question. I'm not sure they are! I think a lot of us are hermits. We end up spending a lot of time alone and liking spending a lot of time alone.

Any dating experiences that have made it into your comics?
I've done a bunch of drawings of my current girlfriend, which I enjoy doing because she's beautiful to look at. They usually don't have plots or talking. They don't really qualify as comics.

Has being a cartoonist gotten you laid? Do you have any groupies?
Ha! Not exactly. But I did meet my current girlfriend through comics. In that way, maybe I sort of did. I guess you could say she was a fan. She was a fellow cartoonist, and I met her because she organized the Comics Symposium at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

What's the best way to pick up a cartoonist?
Ask to look at their sketchbook. It's a good way of showing interest. You get to find out about them a little bit. I think people's work and their personalities are often related. It's often the case that, if you like somebody a lot, you're going to like their work, and if you don't like someone's work, there's a pretty good chance you're not going to connect with them.

I'm a straight girl, but I think I have feelings for my best friend, who's a woman. What should I do?
Ask to see her sketchbook? I don't know — I think you've got to kind of broach the subject. You can do it in a subtle way, in a way where if the answer is clearly "no, I'm not into you" or "I'm not into you that way," you can kind of forget that conversation happened. Either it'll kind of get its own momentum, or just getting it out there will sort of defuse it for you.

My husband wants an open relationship. I'm kind of into the idea, but how can we make it work?
One-hundred-percent openness and honesty and being into it for the right reasons. You've got to be sure that you're clear with one another that you're the primary and you're not interested in moving on or whatever. I know several people who've kind of tried it, and it hasn't really worked. That's why I feel like, if it's going to work, you have to be super-purposeful and clear about it.

I'm thirty-four and newly single with a kid. Is it kosher, on the first few dates, not to mention that I have a teenage daughter?
I think on the first date, if it doesn't come up, it's probably reasonable. But by the time you get to "yeah, this is somebody I want to see again," that should probably be in the air. I guess it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a life partner, I think that being honest about things that are going to be dealbreakers before people get too attached is kind of important. If you're just trying to get laid, that's a different story.