I’m writing an essay on this topic (actually, it’s on sexual bondage imagery in comics, but the two run right in parallel.
I’m not asking you to do my home work for me. I’m having too much fun doing it. But I would like to give you a brief outline of what I’ve come up with and if anybody spots a place where I’m wrong or something I’m missing, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.
OK, from their origin to the 1940s, comics were basically fairly tame. The women wore clothes, or if they were naked they were covered up or obscured by whatnot and geegaws. In the 40s, comics started getting raunchy, with pubs like Wings, Rangers and Fight, I’m betting because of WWII. Women still wore clothes, but they were sometimes drawn as essentially nude figure studies with shaded areas representing clothing that was essentially skin tight. In other words, some of the figures on the comics would be taken for nudes if they’d been inked all in pink with the nipples drawn in.
This continued into the 1050s, along with an increasing emphasis on graphic violence, which got Dr. Frederik Wertham and a bunch of bluenoses all worked up, and he wrote a book called “Seduction of the Innocent” and Congress held hearings and the comics publishers set up the Comics Code Authority as a voluntary censorship board and that was the end of that for nudity/sexiness/violence and most other things that made comics fun for older readers.
This lasted until the late 60s/early 70s when comic publishers felt the ground shifting beneath them because of the rise of underground comix. So they let the censorship go hang and some sexy imagery reappeared. Really nice nude stuff by Frazetta and a few others.
This cranked along nicely until the late 70s/early 80s when there was an interregnum of sorts. Although comics didn’t go back to Comics Code standards by any means, there was sort of a drawing back from naked or sexy imagery. It was still there, just not so pronounced. Then in the early 90s with the rise of indie publishers, comics got raunchy and naked again, with pubs like Genesis 13 and Dirty Pair, a trend that has continued and increased with the rise of the Internet as a marketing and distribution medium, where, of course, anything goes, and every wannabe artist can portray their favorite character as naked or sexually active as they like – and they do.
That’s it in a nutshell. I’m a little vague on what might have happened in the early days of comics, when things were unsettled as to what a comic book might be, and I am curious about the 80s interregnum, why it happened etc.