L’odyssee du vice is a delightfully surreal BD* by Delphine Panique. Published in 2016 by Bordeaux publisher, les Requins Marteaux, it’s the 11th volume of the BD-CUL series, a collection of naughty comics that bills itself as “50% BD, 50% cul, 100% plaisir. Le n°1 de la BD indébandante.” My apologies to professional translators, especially if I get this wrong, but I’d roughly translate that tagline to “50% comics, 50% ass, 100% pleasure. The best in independent erotic comics.”
L’odyssee is based on a rather absurd premise: Roger is an astronaut conducting research on a distant planet who loses his penis and must embark on a sexed up expedition to retrieve it. This sets up what I thought would be a completely phallocentric narrative, so much so, it almost seemed to be poking (sorry not sorry) fun at the idea of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. However, Panique presents a far more interesting tale.
We begin with familiar ground, in which Roger is devastated by the loss of his member. He wonders if his lover, Penny, will still desire him.
But as Roger wanders through unknown territory, he begins to discover a mythical world that lies beyond his assumed phallocentrism. (Spoilers below)
Singing flying vaginas show Roger that he is able to pleasure them without his cock. And a pages-long orgy with a group of alien animal/human hybrids return Roger to a primal state of polymorphous pleasure, in which all forms of sensuality are celebrated. Finally, Roger meets Rosebud, the magical spirit of the clitorus**, an all-powerful being.
In exchange for recognizing the power of the clit and in promising to give the clit the same status as the phallus, Rosebud restores Roger’s penis.
As you can see, the world of L’odyssee is gorgeously rendered in a superflat, graphic style, rendered with delicate linework and stippling and brought to life by stunningly rich colours. Gradients are also deployed by Panique to good effect. The simple, abstracted images and contrasting palettes lend the comic a dynamic, playful feel that compliments the story’s surrealism. As promised, this comic was a 100% pleasure to read.
I bought my copy of L’Odyssee from The Beguiling. The comic is mostly wordless and uses easy verb tenses, so the difficulty level of reading this comic is quite low for French students.
* bande dessinée, the French term for comics
** for those wondering about the shape of Rosebud, here is the anatomy of the clit, most of which is not visible: