To my readers......

For reasons which I don't understand, the blog editor occasionally drops down to small size text. I have just fixed this in my Tom of Finland - 6 article. I'd be glad if readers tell me about this problem elsewhere by adding a comment to the article affected, so I can fix it.

Your comments are always welcome.
Thanks for visiting mitchmen!

(Oct 13th 2014)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 7

7 Black and White (continued)
Tom - Black Model (1972)
In the 18 years from 1967 to 1984 Tom only produced occasional pictures with black characters. It was during these years that he was busy producing the Kake booklets of course and the more substantial 'Pekka' series but as we have noticed, black characters are equally scarce in these. His 'non-storybook' black drawings in this entire period amount to less in total than the number he had produced just in the 5 preceding years. Many of them are portraits or else have a rather serious 'arty' feel about them, like the striking image above from 1972 and at the other end of the 70's (for example) there's a picture loosely based on Leonardo's 'Vitruvian Man' but with a kneeling black guy mischievously at work at the rear of the arms-spread poser. 
The image here shows a beautiful young man but with it's hint of a crucifixion seems a touch political (and typically provocative). The face in this image has that infusion of the young Muhammed Ali which I mentioned in the last article and interestingly this picture comes shortly after Ali's return to boxing and the public stage after winning his long and bruising battle with the US Government over serving in the Vietnam War, but I can't substantiate any connection between the two.
Tom - Poked (1978)
This image from 1978 is one of the few explicit and fetishistic works in this period. During this time Tom blurs the differences between black and white - with blandness of features in his serious pieces (see previous example) and with exaggeration of lips and jaws in his caricaturing style. In this picture he has drifted back into stereotypical representation of his black character (note their relative cock sizes!) but this is a long way from the story-telling rough and tumble of the 60's.
There's a distinct touch of malicious pleasure in the power-play here but I'd hesitate to ascribe any political meaning to it. However, the character under the collar is most intriguing, his face is quite unlike any of Tom's other creations which makes one wonder if it's meant to be a real person and if so is this a particular revenge fantasy or just about being dominated?

Tom - Cop Sandwich (1985)

From 1985 to his last pictures in 1990, Tom seems to rediscover black men. Half of his entire 'black collection' comes in this short period. This is no doubt a consequence of his visits to the USA starting in 1978 when he would have met real blacks in a gay environment. However, something else must have triggered the sudden intense interest that appears in 1985.
A couple of portraits from this period point towards personal acquaintances, but the evidence is there to see anyway in the way he depicts black men - even in his trademark cartoon style pictures. With small subtle changes they suddenly become more differentiated and authentically black in appearance, a process you can almost see happening between the faces in this picture. We can also see the discovery of reciprocal interest, seemingly registered with surprise on the sandwiched cop's face. A number of other pictures in this period show the white cop pursued by black admirers. Perhaps this is Tom's wishful thinking.
Tom - Private Punishment (1985)

Making this true connection with black men seems to free Tom to involve them in his pictures in a way he didn't really do before. This image epitomises that breakthrough with black and white in uniform together, both working over their black ''prisoner'. I believe it's Tom's only black-on-black scene and it completely casts off the political shackles of race and history.
The white cop is something of a triumph too, a sort of muscular, rejuvenated Kake who has somehow usurped the threatening cop figure of earlier times, here wielding his paddle with unashamed lust.
There's a nostalgic look back at the motifs of earlier years in these final pictures, the fence and the figure peeping over it are an example, we can only imagine what significance this had for Tom to use it so often.
Tom - Punk Punishment (1986)

There's a supreme sense of triumph in this picture from 1986 but for once there's no cop or Kake figure to steal the limelight. Tom started drawing Punks in his last years, doubtless another reflection of his discoveries in America, and he seems to have assigned them the character of non-conforming, mischievous goblins, so this one's appearance in a locker room scene immediately suggests that old favourite scenario 'the thief'. He might equally be a peeping Tom, but his tightly-zipped jeans suggest a non-sexual reason for his presence. In Europe, punks have a reputation for fascist sympathies and the arm tattoos on this man seem to bear that out, making the 'forfeit' here all the more unpleasant for him and deliciously satisfying for us.
The promotion of a black athlete to do the honours here, restoring order, seems enormously significant in another way too, because this forced-sucking, domination pose is one of Tom's most cherished and most repeated scenarios. It's a direct descendent of the 'Careless Motorcyclist' picture with which I began this series of articles and a situation repeated in the 'Careless Sailor', 'The Intruder' and the 'Careless Postman'.
Tom - Hands Against The Wall

This is one of Tom's last pictures and though not his best, it is in some ways a final act of integration with the black man assuming the role once taken by Kake. Forced against the wall, he becomes the random victim of a lust-filled cop abusing his power. An unreconstructed Tom has not bothered with any ambiguity about the level of coercion nor the victim's willingness. However, the style of the drawing and the familiarity to us of the location (recognise the fence?) tell us that this is fantasy and not political.
Or is it?

In these final images Tom's view of black men reaches maturity, they have clear, separate, adult identity which is not just a modified white man. They participate in the sexual rituals of Tom's Land not simply as equals but as fully fledged men in all their complexity, lustful and lusted after, sometimes submissive, sometimes dominant, both loving and beloved. Tom's work, as always, reflects the world around him and he evolves along with it.

To be continued in Part 7
Links to previous articles: Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 6

Part 6 Black and White 
This article is about race and I have tried to pick my words carefully, but I'd be glad to hear from anyone who thinks I've chosen badly and will try to put it straight.

 Tom - Biker Trio, 1973 
In part 4, I commented on the unexpected scarcity of black characters in the Kake series. Despite all those adventures and orgies, there are just 2 blacks in the 26 stories, around 3% of the characters. It's unexpected because Tom is noted for the inclusion of black and white men together in his pictures and that's by no means a common occurrence in erotic art. Most of the artists featured in this series are exclusively white, while the black artist Belasco, for example is exclusively black. This is not surprising, most artists tend to draw what they are familiar with, but on my calculations around 10% of Tom's commonly available pictures feature non-whites. This is a most compelling counter-argument to criticism of his fascist uniform imagery.
Much to my astonishment, Hooven's 'Life and Times of Tom' which I have drawn on heavily for biographical information does not mention blacks at all or show an image containing one. All the more surprising since in the picture above from 1973 (for example) the black character is the most carefully drawn of the three and there cannot be any doubt that Tom found him beautiful, although conspiracy theorists might point to the way the other bikers seem to ignore him!

Tom did not date his early pictures but the first appearance of a black man is thought to be the beach image below, believed to be from 1961. The total whiteness of pre-1961 Tom is not entirely surprising since Tom's homeland, Finland and the adjacent countries he visited were predominantly white. Durk Dehner says mixed race drawings were not publishable in the US prior to this which I'm sure is true, but I'm not sure that 1961 marked any watershed in that respect – the 1973 picture above seems to suffer from similar inhibitions. Durk's observation doesn't really take account either of Tom's European outlets or his private collection either, which could have contained anything he wanted, but nothing has surfaced from there either, although we know that much of his 50's output got lost or stolen. 
 Tom - On The Beach (1961)
The star of the 1961 picture is unquestionably the sailor who is a fine representative of Tom's early 'glamour' style and irresistible to all who see him. That includes the black man who has been reading a girly magazine and is seated as though he is part of a separate, unseen group. This suggestion of 'segregation' is unintentionally political, but the character's outsider status bolsters his 'black and straight' virility credentials, presenting him as 'hard to get'. Tom may also simply be including this character to conjure up a 'typical' American setting, but we know enough about him to realise he would be fully aware of the frisson added by bridging the divides of race and sexuality.
(Incidentally this distinctive beach setting with it's secluded canyons between dunes must surely be based on a real gay meeting place Tom had visited.)
Tom's portrayal of a black face here is sympathetic, he doesn't resort to caricature, but it's boyish rather than manly and the contrast with the racial authenticity of the 1974 picture is considerable. If Tom was seeking to invoke the reputed sexual 'prowess' of non-white races here, this rather safe rendering doesn't shout it out.
There's a companion picture in which this character joins in the orgy just like everyone else, but it's in a supporting, sucking role and it's only his skin colour that distinguishes him from the others. I suspect there may have been more pictures in the series involving a more penetrative role which perhaps were too challenging for the mixed race taboo, but Tom soon crosses that bridge.

Tom - Wary Captive (1962)
This 1962 image is more interesting to fetish fans, it's the first of a pair where a young black man is tied between posts by two calculating biker types. There's a suggestive power play going on here but since the tied up black character is once again shown as boyish, with a fearful, innocent expression, he earns our total sympathy, but it suggests this is more than an initiation scene. There's not much doubt that Tom is playing the 'black = big' card here but to modern eyes the baby-faced victim is also drawing uncomfortably on other stereotypes of 'acceptable' blackness. 
Tom - Centrepiece (1962)
This related picture suggests more maturity in the victim giving added punch to the penetrative inter-racial sex, which even in Europe at this time would have been frowned upon, but it was also seen as racy and exciting by some. The extra characters in this scene with their distinctive outfits and Sam Browne belts link to another image of the time known as the 'Dare Devils' - a circus style act. Their presence suggests there is a wider story here. The punishment paddle raises the possibility that this is another of Tom's 'theft' scenarios, which would potentially lead us even deeper into the minefield of negative stereotyping.

Tom - Jack and The Explorer (ca 1965)
Tom adds more fuel to the fire with his 'Jack in the Jungle' series (ca 1965) in which a white Tarzan-like figure repeatedly battles to extricate himself and other white men from the clutches of local tribesmen who are not only cast in role of childlike savages - uneducated, uncivilised, sheep (as was the pulp fiction custom of the time) but susceptible to bribery by sexual favours rather than the customary cheap jewellery. But at least they are seen as desirable and come out in a better light than the woman in this story. 

To be fair, Tom is simply copying the popular Tarzan films and books of his time. 'Jack in the Jungle' was probably a commercially motivated experiment and although it has some sexy moments it lacks the gritty relevance of Tom's usual output and is an artistic dead end. There's an unexpected (but isolated) recurrence of this weakness for pulp fiction stereotypes later on, in his portrayal of a North American Indian in Kake 23 (1982!). 
The na├»vely drawn faces in Tom's early 'black' pictures suggest a lack of close study of the subject, so the pre-1961 absence of black characters may simply be because because he never drew them before then. We'll never know what happened to spark his interest – whether it was a personal experience, maybe connected with passing 40 and reviewing his life, or perhaps a reflection of the unrest and worldwide debate leading up to the passing of the US Civil Rights Act in 1964. 
Tom - Locker Room Lads (1965)
Jack aside, Tom's exploration of black characters at this time seems to have more to do with desire, exploration and crossing the divide than any negative attitudes. This idea seems to find explicit expression in the last of the 'boyish' pictures in 1965. This innocent-looking young black guy is the object of unsought, unbridled lust and he's clearly responding, if confused. The seated stance of his 'attacker' is non-threatening and he's half turned towards us allowing us in as well. It's as though we are all reaching out, to bring in the catch and enjoy him. The ambitious perspective is a bit awry, but for my money this is one of Tom's cleverest and sexiest pictures. Notice that by this time, the 'big cock' stereotype is irrelevant, in fact Tom seems to mischievously reverse it here!

Tom - A Birching (1960's)
There's another relevant event in 1964, when American boxer Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali) won the world heavyweight boxing championship. Tom was not really interested in sport, his sporting images are rarer than hen's teeth, but his early pictures often show boys scrapping and Clay's arrogant, articulate confidence and undeniable ability was not easily ignored by anyone. His championing of equality and committed opposition to the Vietnam war both charmed and shocked 'white society' and changed perceptions of black people. Tom was impressed enough to do a drawing (not good enough to include here) which appears to show Clay getting shafted in the ring by a white and enjoying it. It's as if Tom is saying he's 'one of us' – at least we wish he was. 
Clay's appearance and belligerent personality seems to seep into Tom's pictures after this and I like to think the image above might be a product of that process. The date is unknown but stylistically it seems to fit the mid-60's. Not only do blacks outnumber the white man in this picture, they are solemnly subjecting him to a fiercely painful birching, which is arousing for them if not for him. The complete reversal of the usual power relationships is intensely erotic of course. 
Tom - Pleasure (1964) 
This picture, from 1964 perhaps shows Tom's true intentions more clearly. You may not have appreciated the racial element in this image before, but it shows a white boy positively melting under the touch of a black man, with a suggestion of deeper intimacy going on. It looks like this picture was meant for publication, Tom's well-honed skill in 'hidden eroticism' is put to new use undermining the mixed race taboo - and arguably undermining his claims to be non-political too.
This black man (no longer a cuddly boy) seems to be a representative of his race rather than a individual with a personality, but his firm grip and dignified manly stance is entirely positive and a beautiful foil for the exuberant, joyous pleasure of his partner.
This is an powerful expression of illicit desire fulfilled.
The fluidity of the foreground pose here is unusual for Tom suggesting strong emotions and enthusiasm at work. There's a certain kinship to the style of the locker room picture too. But if this picture marks the transition in Tom's blacks from boys to men, it also seems to symbolise or foreshadow a more fundamental change from the youthful, exuberance of the early works (represented by the blond) to the more measured, earthy, adult sexuality represented by the partly hidden black man.
The advent of this picture is part of a wider change and not just racially. Up to this time, in the UK at least, there was a feeling that sex between boys was part of growing up and more acceptable than sex between adult men. Racial differentiation is also less pronounced at this age, and these two factors may partly explain the persistence of boyish imagery in Tom's early black pictures. A way of making them less provocative. But as the 60's progressed, attitudes like this were beginning to dramatically reverse.

Tom - Sixty Nine
This image seems to perfectly encapsulate the direction of change. These two men are both indisputably adult and as sixty-nine's go this is exceptionally intimate, passionate and downright dirty! It's attributed to the year 1963 in the Tom Retrospective Vol 3, which would make it earlier than the image above.

I'm not totally convinced about the year, the subject and style seem rather more advanced than this. The inscription on the picture places it firmly in the sixties but is more ambiguous, however, it's not necessarily contemporary. Regardless of this, to depict a mixed race encounter in this way at this time would have been considered deeply shocking and offensive by many, not least because of the role given to the white man. This may be why the racial identity of the nearer figure is disguised/ ambiguous and pretty much invisible to the casual observer. Recognise that Tom is not campaigning here, but he is deliberately (and successfully) using moral outrage as an erotic lever.

Interestingly, there is also an orgy picture from 1963 in which a solitary black man is included but he's equally well disguised (ref:- Tom Retro V1 p36). This might raise the suspicion that Tom sees black men as just another stereotype, but although Tom did a number of other pictures of orgies and 'parades' of favourite stereotypes, the sailor, the construction worker etc.. you won't find a black man amongst them until the 80's.

I reckon Tom produced a quarter of his 'black' pictures in a burst of interest between 1961 and 1966 and it's followed by a quieter period up to the 70's when the rather more sophisticated image which tops this article appeared marking a new phase which I will discuss next time.

To be continued in Part 7
Links to previous articles: Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, Part 5

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Revised A-Z Entry - Joseph

 Who lives in a house like this? 
 That's the puzzle for the viewer in this picture by Joseph.
I have substantially revised the original A-Z entry on this artist with new pictures to reflect his  recent fetish work, you can read the full entry here with links to his blog.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Tom of Finland and Fascism - a Historical Note

The controversial SS whipping of a captive, referenced in Part 5 of my Tom of Finland A-Z article (and reproduced in Hooven's biography of him*) can be seen in a different light if the historical position of Finland during the Second World War is understood.

Finland did not exist as an independent nation until 1917, just a few years before Tom was born. It had been a Russian possession for over 100 years and before that part of Sweden. Finns seized their independence during the chaos of the Bolshevik revolution and despite gaining recognition had difficult relations with Russia over borders in the years that followed. In the tensions and machinations preceding WW2 Russia demanded land and military bases inside Finland and eventually invaded in 1939, when Tom would have been 18. He was called up for military service the following year. It was a bitterly fought war and Finland, fighting alone, inflicted significant defeats on the Russians before being forced to yield to superior strength. It's not hard to imagine how much hatred young Finns like Tom must have felt for the Russians. Hooven recounts how Tom actually killed a Russian paratrooper during his war service and was mortified to discover he was a beautiful young man, not a demon. This incident at a very impressionable age deeply affected him.

The German government had cultivated Finland as an ally during the inter-war years, Tom visited Germany twice on pre-war school trips as a teenager and no doubt saw them as a friendly people based on his personal experiences. The Nazi hatred of homosexuals was no great secret but he was young and things were not much different in his homeland, he seems to have made a distinction between the people and their government. The Finnish people never supported Fascism and Jews were not persecuted by them. Perhaps because of this there was no help from Germany during their 'Winter War' but when alliances shifted in 1941, Finland allowed Germany to attack Russia across their territory and took the opportunity to join in and recover land that had been lost the previous year. 

Ultimately that effort failed too but the sense of Russians as bitter enemies and Germans as friends was reinforced. During this period German soldiers mingled freely with the Finns. Tom seems to have done his share of fraternising, which could have included members of the SS who were assigned to carry out intelligence and political liaison functions in occupied/allied territories - not just the brutal role in 'The Final Solution' for which they became infamous.

Given this, Tom's 1973 idealisation of a German soldier in uniform is not very hard to understand, and his choice of SS uniform is probably less about Nazi-dom than it seems to us in retrospect. His rather brutish characterisation of the prisoner, however, especially in the preliminary sketch, raises the intriguing possibility that he is working through his antipathy to the Russian/Militaristic aggression which had obliged him to kill someone in his youth and in which the German soldiers assisted his homeland. 

Why depict this in 1973?  Perhaps because in this year the Vietnam war was entering the end-game of defeat for the western allies and Russia was threatening to intervene in theYom Kippur war to rescue it's allies (Syria and Egypt) after their failed attempt to restore historical borders with Israel. A time of violent redrawing of boundaries, great tensions for the world and unnatural alliances, a familiar disturbing tale for Tom - and not dissimilar to the situation we are living in today with Iraq v ISIS v Syria and Ukraine/Russia

I don't have a copy of the finished SS picture and haven't been able to find it on-line but it is reproduced in Hooven's book:

*Ref: Page 31 of "Tom of Finland - His Life and Times", by F. Valentine Hooven III (1994)

Monday, 15 September 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 5

The Sinister Tom of Finland

'The Rope' - A Cop Is Coming

Before leaving Kake I would give a mention to 'The Rope' which though not officially part of the series has many authentic ingredients – a woodland meeting, an authentic gay cruising ritual with the central character overpowered and tied up to become the passive centre piece of a mass orgy. It's spiced by the arrival of the dreaded Policeman, whose appearance immediately scares off all the other revellers, leaving their captive to his fate. 

'The Rope'  - Discovery

The familiar moment of fearful discovery follows. Fortunately this cop is keen to show off his endowment and have some of the hero's ass, the orgy resumes around them and ends in smiles all round. It's an optimistic, nicely balanced and consistently well drawn story that makes light of the inherent dangers of such cruising.

Forbes notion which I mentioned at the end of the Part 3 that “...there is nothing mean spirited or sinister about a Tom fantasy.” probably does apply to 'The Rope', but in general Kake depicts a world full of mean-spirited people, like the opportunist thief (Kake 2), the Police Officers who arbitrarily whip 'streakers' (Kake 3), a spurned woman who takes her revenge by reporting her former lover's homosexual activity to the police (Kake 6), a landowner who threatens a trespasser with a whip (Kake 21) and attacks him for making an indecent suggestion, a 'hero' who metes out a spanking and sexual assault for the offence of bending a photograph (Kake 23)

There's no shortage of the sinister either, we have a hijacker (Kake 8), several men who force frightened victims into sex at the point of a gun (Kake8, Kake15, Kake 23), an Army Officer who arrests and tortures a civilian for making approaches to his men (Kake 14) and several policemen who abuse their authority to satisfy their sexual urges (Kake 3,22) - and that's not even counting Kake's own, less than consensual, approach to sex with strangers, including 2 straight men (Kakes1, 26) and his use of sex as a punishment, or if you prefer, as a reprisal (Kakes 5, 23)

OK, it's all fantasy and fun and Tom usually covers his tracks with ambiguity and last minute smiles but these aren't biff-bash cartoons, there's a dark mind at work here, who thinks this sort of rough play is erotic and he's absolutely right. He taps into our guilty pleasure at seeing someone else get the stick for a change. 

The Bikers Captive (1963)

The sinister in Tom is not confined to the Kake series. This image from 1963 was published in the first Tom of Finland Retrospective with the bottom section containing the petrol can and matches cropped off. It may be that the dishy captive has simply been caught attempting to set fire to the biker's shed but I'm obviously not the only person who sees a more sinister narrative where the bikers are threatening a terrifying initiation/revenge of the sort later depicted so graphically by Sean.

The characterisation of the captive in this drawing is interesting. His white, sleeveless singlet is a rare garment in Tom's drawings. In that era it suggests conventional underwear and clean living to me, but is also associated with shirts-off manual labour, or it may be intended to signify a crude or slobbish, but very male personality. His hairy body, equally unusual for Tom, poses a similar dilemma. Is it the natural look of an uncorrupted, 'real' man or the unkemptness of a beast? Recall there are two villains in Kake who are depicted with hairy bodies, but they are not nearly as handsome as this chap. Your interpretation makes a big difference to the way you view this image.

Even more intriguing is his posing pouch. This is the uniform of the beefcake model of the time but would never normally be seen on a hairy body (too sexual) or outside of a studio for that matter. So is this a lad who secretly wears one and fantasises about being a model - or have the bikers dressed him that way to live out their own fantasies?
(Comments from readers welcome)

Whipped Prisoner (1973)

There are plenty of whipping scenes in Tom's work which most people detached from the world of S&M would consider sinister in it's own right. However, this victim from a 1973 sketch is unusually animated, indicating a very painful experience. In the final picture (which I don't wish to post here) Tom paired him with a torturer who is a German soldier kitted out in the full regalia of the wartime SS. This is Sinister with a capital 'S'. In the years following WWII the SS became synonymous with cruelty, torture and extermination and by this time the extent of their excesses was universally understood.

I'm prepared to allow Tom the benefit of the doubt about Fascism since I've never seen any evidence of it either in his work or the accounts of his life, but he does seem to have been fascinated with authoritarianism in uniform and I am certain that he knew exactly what he was doing in creating this image. It would shock most people (just as an IS atrocity does today), but as we've seen Tom didn't mind being provocative and often paid scant regard to notions of propriety or political correctness. However, in it's time this imagery conveyed forcefully the desperate plight of the prisoner – which was Tom's main purpose. This is a picture about pain and danger. There are plenty of artists around today who use Middle Eastern imagery to similar effect.

see also my historical note on this subject

The Harshest Cut (1978)

This image from 1978 is also capable of no other interpretation than sinister. Significantly, in the final, published version, the droplets of sweat signifying the terror of the victim are absent and the cruel set of the captor's mouth loses some of it's venom. You can see a lot of serious emotion went into creating this sketch but it's actually not about mutilation, it's not primarily about sex either – the knifeman is fully dressed. It's actually a depiction of fear and what it feels like to be deeply threatened. It's a theme that recurs over and over again in Tom's work, but usually less graphically than these last two works. Check out the other pictures in this article as examples. This is also why I highlighted the subtle but equally sinister, mock-lynching sub-narrative in 'Kake in the Wild West'.

Notice how Tom has drawn this picture in such a way that he can easily substitute a cock for the knife if publishing preferences require it. It's a good example of his pragmatic flexibility and also his thoughtful approach to composition, honed to perfection by years of having to disguise eager cocks in more prosaic situations. Coupled with the censorship story of the biker picture (above), it also makes you wonder what other pictures may have been sanitised for public consumption
 - and how.

Cowboys with Farm Implement

At first sight this is an odd, unexciting picture, a simple ranch scene showcasing some nice, erotic figure drawing, but the characters seem uninvolved and disconnected, which is unusual for Tom. The half hidden rope adds a little frisson of bondage potential, but the three pronged pitch fork to one side seems like a gratuitous bit of added 'colour'. However, if you observe the angling of the fork when transferred to the cowboy's outstretched hand, the picture assumes truly sinister dimensions putting the mound between the reclining man's legs in no less peril than the cabin captive's tackle in the picture above (which was drawn just one year earlier).
This one is all in the mind.

Notice again how the incriminating implement can easily be cropped out to avoid giving offence, the blank space bottom left is equally intriguing!

Woodland  Punishment Ritual

This is slightly different but one of my favourite Tom images, showing two men with their cocks strapped together and being belted by a gang of leathermen. Tom depicted a number of woodland beatings like this but usually the victim is solo and it's clear from his boots etc that he is part of the club and we are witnessing an initiation ritual or disciplinary event.

These two are totally naked and are not obviously bikers at all, one is strikingly handsome and long limbed and this uncertainty over their identity and relationship, if any, to the gang immediately introduces something of a sinister flavour. Their joint punishment with it's sexual element raises further questions – are they buddies, lovers, strangers? Novices, troublemakers, or innocent passers by at the wrong time? All in all it's a potent brew.

This is 1977, well after the Hell's Angels heyday, but Tom's biker gangs with their militaristic, leather uniforms and muscular torsos still look threatening and dangerous, particularly in the isolated woodland setting. There is always an element of doubt about them in terms of intent and limits. Tom underlines this by emphasising the severity of the beating with impact symbols in the manner of comic strips. One of the beauties of the picture is the stoic attempts of the victims to maintain manly composure under this fierce assault, which one imagines is going to continue until they both produce a suitable sexual response. There's a finely judged element of cruelty here.

Forbes 'defence' of Tom is untrue but understandable, Tom was still alive and looking over his shoulder when he wrote it. But that's not to imply that Tom was mean-spirited or sinister. His biographers reveal very little of Tom's real character, a modest man with a drink problem, but the Kake stories suggest a bluff, hearty man, totally unreconstructed, who's been through the mill and certainly hasn't forgotten those lessons (and simply 'moved on' as modern attitudes would have it),
but who has learned to laugh at life, through his work at least, while retaining a streak of gleeful maliciousness against those who wronged him. 
These 'sinister' images give us a glimpse of the depth of those feelings.

To be continued in Part 6
Links to previous articles: Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 4

Kake concluded
Links to previous articles: Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3
After the explosion of sadism and power-play in Kake 14-15, Tom reverts to vanilla with a series of 'carefree', uncontroversial, casual encounters in Kake No 16, 'Sex on the Train' (with a soldier), No 17, 'Loading Dock' and a linked pair, No's 18-19, 'Pant's Down Sailor' and 'Curious Captain'.
Curious Captain (Kake 19)
These last two feature a black sailor for Kake to get stuck into. There's an echo of the dramatic moment in Kake No1 as the copulating pair are discovered, not by Daddy of course but by an Officer (with a luxuriant moustache). I need hardly point out how significant the fear of being 'found out' is for gay men and back in the 70's being found out in the military was double jeopardy. Tom milks the drama as the sailor is ordered to attention and given a teasing inspection by his superior. Kake relieves the tension by drawing this late arrival into the proceedings and revealing him to be wearing a pair of tight underpants (above) which are very sexy. 
The sailor is the second black character to appear in Kake (after the businessman-dandy in Kake 7). There aren't any more – not even in crowd scenes. Between them, these two feature in 3 of the 26 stories (12%) but represent less than 5% of the characters. This low figure may surprise you, since Tom is noted for his mixed race pictures which make him almost unique among erotic artists (of any colour), they even did a book about it! I will return to this topic in a later article. 
This group of more straight-forward sex adventures for Kake ends with No 20 'Pleasure Park', a reworking of the 'accumulating orgy' theme from No7 and equally unremarkable, but it's worth comparing the two, if only to see how far Tom's cartooning technique has evolved in the intervening years.
Greasy Rider Attacked
After the fetish hiatus of stories 16-20, and a break of 3 years, 'Greasy Rider' (1978) represents a return to more interesting subject matter and a step up in drawing quality. I have my doubts whether this story was really intended to be part of this series, since Kake's normal role of subversive, sex adventurer is seemingly played by a different man, noticeably youthful, with curly, blond hair and wearing a doubtful sweater instead of a leather jacket. The character who most looks like Kake is a wealthy landowner and horse-rider with an aggressive attitude to strangers who trespass and proposition him. He doesn't really fit the mould either, Kake has his moments of aggression and anger but it's hard to imagine him keeping his trousers on long enough to accumulate wealth!

However, this story represents a new direction in more important ways. In previous tales Kake is rolled over by authority figures like policemen. It's the same story in several of Tom's early pictures also involving trespassing scenarios. Young men caught illicitly swimming or sunbathing are rebuked and humiliated by security guards (presumably as a prelude to punishment of some sort though I've never seen a picture showing this). This time it's different, the trespasser mocks the angry landowner, inviting him to sample his dick and when he is attacked for his impertinence, he fights back and overpowers the man, tying him to a handy fence. The rest you can guess.
 Tied to a Fence

There's some fine bondage pictures in this set, skilfully imagined from an elevated spectator viewpoint as though we are watching, hidden in a nearby tree. Tom also completed several of the pictures to his more polished standard so it's an altogether better product.
Greasy Threesome
As usual in Kakeland, someone else turns up to join in, a butch-looking, attractive man, something of a cross between a rough yokel and a scantily-clad, late night clubber making his way home. 
As the action progresses the angry landowner morphs into a more youthful Kake, thoroughly enjoying himself but in awe of this new arrival, a young, blond Adonis who has given him a taste of his own medicine.
 Greasy Water Sports

In the final frame, the landowner's submission is total, but it seems his humiliation is not yet complete, as the latecomer beckons to his stallion which stands in the field watching them and already primed. It's a daring sign-off, a reflection of the increasing freedom of the times, although Tom had already frivolously explored some 'animal moments' in his 'Jungle Jack' series of the mid-sixties. That seemed like a mischievous attempt to shock and amuse, but this time Tom is also clearly exploring new depths of degradation and a possibility of sleaze and sexual excess in his characters which goes way beyond anything else in Kake.
Kake Arrested

There's another gap in time before the next story, No 22 Highway patrol, where Kake finally appears on his motorcycle for the very first time in the saga, (there are two more fleeting appearances in Nos 23 and 24, see my introduction to Part 2 about this). He is approached by two traffic cops planning to use him for some fun. They handcuff him and drag him off for an intrusive and humiliating sexual ordeal behind a roadside hoarding. Kake quickly produces an erection for them but his face doesn't show much pleasure until one of the cops offers him some ass, thereafter all is smiles and routine, 'carefree' sex.
Kake Humiliated by Cops

Notice that these are American cops (for the first time in Kake) and Tom has captured the buffed-up, tight-fit, power look that some US Policemen cultivate. They are far more intimidating physically than their UK counterparts and the latent power to punish, inherent in the Police role, infuses this encounter with uncertainty and danger from the outset. If these two were dressed as sailors it would all seem quite different! There's enough ambiguity and closing clarification in this fantasy to sidestep accusations of forced sex, but as Tom well knew, it is that initial ambiguity, that doubt about intentions, that makes the scenario so erotic especially when compared with the simple 'meet and greet' stories like, for example, No16 'Sex on the Train' and the orgies (7&20) .

This story (1982) comes shortly after Tom's first visit to the US in '78 and all the remaining Kake adventures are inspired by or set in North America, (you might also discern some American influences in the immediately preceding tales too), however the drawing of the cops in this episode is the only example in Kake that seems to reflect something erotic that Tom actually saw on his visits.

Kake himself ages as the series progresses and it's round about this time that the familiar jutting chin and big moustaches start to become dominant features, a development that is destined to split his followers into two camps.
Kake Tackles the Outlaw

Kake's bike makes a second appearance in No23 'In The Wild West' and it all looks like vanilla land as he discovers a saloon full of eager studs. Their revels are rudely interrupted by a be-stubbled outlaw who proceeds to poke the frightened cowboys at gun-point. The new, heroic Kake emerges from hiding to disarm him, he is overpowered and stripped to reveal a deliciously hairy body.

I say deliciously hairy but I guess not all my readers would agree, Tom's attitude is harder to pin down. He rarely drew hairy men which is perhaps not surprising as he comes from the era of beefcake, shorn of all hair to avoid any suggestion of sex. However his occasional depictions do seem to show a grasp of what makes a hairy body attractive, so it's interesting that in this story he uses it for a bad man, creating a beast who stumbles on the orgy and takes the young ranchers at gunpoint (instead of aggressively seducing them as Kake would normally do himself!) You may recall another conspicuously hairy man in the Kake saga who is also a criminal, the man who stole Kake's leathers (see No's 2+5). I suppose this story predates the 'emancipation of bears' but quite why Tom should associate hairiness with wrong-doing I'm not sure.
 The Renegade Led Away For Punishment

The subdued offender is led to a tree outside the town to be hoisted - but only (only!) by his balls. It's erotic in it's own right but despite the humorous slant it there's also a very dark presence from the parallels with Western lynchings. I suspect this is not accidental having seen Tom's liking for hinting at forbidden fetishes (like sounding, fisting and bestiality) and how adept he was at disguising his messages when he needed to.
Strung Up By The Mob

The suspended outlaw is memorably chastened by belt and cock and left hanging, shortly to become an object of interest to a randy American Indian who just happens to be lurking nearby. This suggestive ending is similar to Kake 5 where the compromised and helplessly-cuffed (and also hairy) thief awaits the (probably cruel) attentions of an approaching policeman. Unfortunately, even allowing for Tom's penchant for provocative post-scripts (as in Kake 21) this version involves an unhappy use of racial stereotyping. It's in a similar vein to his depiction of 'natives' in the 1960's 'Jungle Jack', in fact the imagery in this Wild West story seems to be drawn entirely from the comics and films of the 50's and 60's. Even the cowboys don't seem to reflect Tom's visits to America when he had probably seen real ones (who can be just as well built and impressive as the cops in Highway Patrol).

The portrayal of this native American is so dated that it speaks of naivety rather than malice, a miscalculation like the hi-jacker scenario in Kake 8. But at this time (1982), Tom is a mature 60 and culturally we are midway between 'Soldier Blue' and 'Little Big Man' (1970) and 'Dances with Wolves' (1990), so one might have hoped for something more enlightened.

The next story isn't actually set in the US at all. 'Kake in Canada' (No 24) is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for Tom with a friendly, hulking logger providing the entertainment. Tom frequently depicted sexual encounters in woodland settings which are standard cruising grounds for gays (e.g. in Kake 4). However, loggers in forests are quite different animals. They are symbols of male virility, like construction workers, who unselfconsciously display their naturally developed bodies as they work and are frequently admired from afar by adolescent boys (and men who should know better). Coming across one working alone, Kake sees the opportunity to realise a boyhood fantasy and his approach accordingly is more circumspect and respectful than usual, as he confesses his admiration for the logger's physique.
Evening All!

The lonely logger soon catches on and one thing leads to another, but their fun is interrupted when a Mountie (i.e. a Canadian Mounted Policeman) comes knocking on the door, minus horse and seeking shelter from the inclement weather - shades of Agatha Christie and a hundred horror films. Those who doubt my views on the threatening, authoritarian role of Policemen in these stories might like to observe how Kake and his new friend hastily make themselves decent as the Mountie enters. Tom has has dedicated a picture exclusively to this scary moment of 'being found out' and he's drawn it with a care which clearly demonstrates it's erotic significance to him.
 A New Mount

Kake rapidly decides that this brand of copper in his fancy, bum-flattering, red coat is an opportunity not a threat and is soon up to his usual groping tricks. His muscular new friend proves to be of like mind and restrains the shocked Mountie while Kake goes through the contents of his trousers and then conducts an in depth follow up. It seems to be a sweat-inducing, frightening, new experience for the Mountie (above) but an intensely satisfying, shared pleasure for the boys.
Double Cocked

Their enjoyment is short lived however, as the Mountie shows considerable ingenuity in locating his handcuffs and somehow locking both his attacker's balls into the same ring, thus fulfilling the old adage that the Mounties always get their man. He celebrates by baptising their conjoined genitalia with a well-aimed despatch of cum. This scene where the Policeman reasserts his authority and pays back his tormentors is the only picture in the whole story where the viewer can see that he is aroused and therefore can be presumed to be enjoying the occasion. His cock is obscured from view during the preceding events, which is rare enough in these stories to be considered significant, just like 'the dog which did not bark in the night'.

The story tantalisingly ends at this point, all we see is the Mountie departing towards the mountains seemingly savouring the memory of the encounter with the rub of a hitherto unseen, riding crop, - a crop whose sting one might suppose has just been tasted by Kake and his Lumberjack accomplice, thereby restoring him to his customary mid-table position in the hierarchy of Kakeworld.

The structure of this plot is very similar to the 'Wild West' story with an opening, free and easy sex scenario, followed by a rather more fraught middle section and an open ending featuring tethered balls in both cases. It's quite clever how Tom has flipped the characters to produce a very different storyline.

 Can't You Read?

Postal Sex No 25 dispenses with the carefree sex altogether and features another of Kake's red rage moments when a postman/mail-man foolishly bends his photograph while attempting to get it into the mail box. Compare this image with that of the Careless Biker and Careless Sailor in Part 1 and see how Tom's fascination with domination spans the years. Hardly changed, except now it's Kake who's doing the dominating. The rest of this tale perhaps gives an idea as to how those 1963 series might have developed in different times.
I Didn't Mean It Mister!

The Postman is subjected to a stinging spanking and forced to provide sexual services as punishment for his laziness. The 'Do Not Bend' instruction on the package provides a justification for this action and a humorous (but not entirely accurate) comment on it, but Tom allows Kake to exhibit surprising levels of anger and controlling behaviour on occasions. It seems to be completely at odds with his apparently carefree approach to life, but if you think about it, is actually quite consistent with his no-negotiation, 'get on with it' seduction technique.
Kake's Special Delivery

The triggers for Kake's anger in this case are interesting - a damaged picture (no doubt close to Tom's heart) and the Mail-man's disregard for the written instructions. Kake's impatience with a younger man's casual rule breaking is a typical sign of growing older, but more than a little hypocritical. The anger in Greasy Rider (No 21) is slightly more complex, it too stems from a young man's disrespect for 'The Rules' (of trespass), but is also prompted by a direct sexual challenge to the older man (who both is and isn't Kake -see my commentary above). Both stories but Greasy Rider in particular seem to reflect rather neatly a confused resentment of ageing. This explanation can also be applied to the 'Just out of Reach' picture, which I discussed some time ago. That one's from 1970 when Tom hits 50. Now with the Mail-man he's nearly 65 and has just discovered a veritable wonderland of youth and guilt-free sex, but he's too old (and too venerated) to enjoy it fully. Wouldn't it make you feel grumpy?

(Kake's anger in story 5 is slightly different, caused by the theft of his leathers, which represent his 'gay identity' as well as property. Theft was another sore point with Tom and I will return to it later.)
Predatory Punks
Back with the Postal Sex story, the postbox design and 'mail-man' terminology provides a tenuous anchor in the USA but there's not much other evidence of observation of Postal Uniforms or any other aspect of American life, although you might count the two passing punks I suppose. These are two of Tom's more scary creations and become involved in the action. They end up participating in the exploitation of the hapless young postman, feeding him to Kake's dick and then taking a piece for themselves. When he finally escapes, the Mail man is smiling, but it's for the first time in the story - and he's already being closely watched by a sly policeman who clearly fancies a go himself.
Kake In The Office

Kake becomes a chauffeur for his swansong in a big city office but there are no white knuckle rides here. I love Tom's clothing fetish but not always his taste in military uniforms and Kake's gear in this story is almost a parody of Tom's fixation on the buttoned up look and ballooning pants. For once he does not seem able to tap into the subject environment convincingly, nor pick up the potent power mechanisms that make his best stories fizz. Instead he falls back on a roaming variation of the jaded, accumulating orgy theme. If you don't mind skirt, the story is enlivened when he catches out the office Romeo shagging a secretary over a desk, a neat reversal of the gay 'exposed' scenario. Kake takes advantage of Lover Boy's unprotected ass which seems to have the effect of temporarily boosting the (supposedly) straight man's performance with his girl, but he seems rather less unhappy about the after-burn effect (above).


Tom really raised the ante in this final group of stories blending the consensual and non-consensual in an ever more ambiguous manner, with an occasional, tasty topping of the threatening, extreme or bizarre. It's powerful erotica that is loved by millions of fans precisely for it's dangerous perversity and edginess. The series was never simply about a Utopian dream of men giving themselves freely in carefree sex. It's also chronicles what it's like to be gay, how the gay world functions, it's pleasures and it's dangers. 

Kake grows older and changes as the series progresses. His clumsy youthful adventuring transitions into comfortable, mid-life promiscuity until, in Tom's advancing age, he is made to confront his demons again. He doesn't entirely grow up or become sensible and he never quite loses his vulnerability, but he grows in stature and courage, so that by the end he's not just taking what he wants, but confronting what he sees as wrong.

As the series ends there's a sad sense of job done, game over, as Kake wanders through the totally alien environment of an office, going from one group to another, repeating what has gone before without very much purpose, but still simply enjoying the company of men.

Tom's fans reading these stories instinctively recognise and empathise with the expression of personal gay experiences and feelings that shape these tales, including the resentment, hurt and anger that sometimes simmers just below the surface. That recognition of a kindred, slightly tortured, spirit is just as empowering as the sight of men free to enjoy sex together without guilt and is part of Tom's continuing appeal in more enlightened times.

The innocuous 'joy of sex' terminology beloved of his modern day publishers and attempts to whitewash his career with a superficial paint job of political correctness and arty respectability not only misrepresents and devalues his achievements, but denies the very essence of his work, which is anything but correct and respectable. Tom, I think, was an easy going chap who would go with the flow to achieve what he wanted but I suspect he would be both amused and saddened by the spectacle of spin-doctoring. Fortunately we still have his work and that will always speak for itself and keep the torch burning.
To be continued in Part 5
Links to previous articles: Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3
For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 3

3 Kake (continued)

Previous articles here: Part 1 and Part 2

Raunchy Truckers
After a strange run of experimental subjects, Tom seems to regain his creative focus in Kake No 10 (Raunchy Truckers). Kake is now working as a truck driver (no motorbike note!). He returns to his old ways by picking up an attractive, young hitch-hiker and assertively seducing him in confines of his cab.

I have a soft spot for this episode of the saga. The hitch-hiker scenario has the adventure of uncertainty built into it (probably more exciting in gay fantasy than reality) and the truck driver directing his mighty machine always seems the essence of masculinity. The cab is his private domain, a man-cave where he is in total control, so Kake does not need to rush the job once the unsuspecting lad is aboard. He overcomes the initial reluctance of his surprised quarry with the assistance of his crew-mate, who contains the young man's initial resistance (above) which inevitably subsides in inverse proportion to the size of his erection. The struggle is gritty enough to raise the temperature, but there's not much doubt by the end that everyone's in the same camp.

The explicit, athletic sex depicted in these books retains it's power to excite and arouse to this day. It can even hold it's head up next to the modern mass of high quality, carefully crafted photographic and video images of real muscle gods having real sex. But when this book was published (ca1970), such material did not exist. Tom's work was hard to find (in the UK police were still routinely seizing anything explicit), but it was uniquely erotic and the liberating impact that it had in a fragmented, lonely and still largely closeted gay world can scarcely be imagined. Tom was not responsible for this 'Gay Spring' but his early suggestive images in Physique Pictorial (see  Part 1) were among the first snowdrops and this Kake series was a flowering of unexpected, stunning blooms that confirmed Summer really was on the way.

Another innocent is lured into Kake's den at home in the TV Repairman story (No 11) and I posted the electric 'moment of realisation' from this story in part 1 (here). This story has a humorous twist as Kake reveals his TV is not broken but just unplugged. It makes you wonder, since hunky and incompetent TV repairmen are not ten a penny, whether Kake's become a stalker.

Service Station

Story No 12 finds our hero working as a attendant in a Service Station where the staff (above) have to wear close-fitting overalls. Tom manages to make them into a very sexy garment (despite the flared legs) and this is more than enough to kick-start the interest of a motorist who calls in to fill up.
As an aside, it's a mystery to me that Tom took so much trouble when he drew motorcycles but never managed to draw a remotely lifelike automobile.
His excitement when he is is invited in to meet two more, equally hunky and sexily-clad mechanics can only be imagined! For me, this modest, uncontroversial four-some (with oil can) is more successful than the free-for-all in Kake 7.
After these two mild, 'carefree sex' stories there's a double-barrelled treat for fetish fans as Kake re-dons his leather jacket (but not his motorcycle) for some sight-seeing, taking in the changing of the guard at what looks like a Central European location. As you would expect, Kake takes up the time-honoured tourist game of trying to make the sentry react or smile, forging into new territory with extreme close-up photography and goosing.
Kake Spanked
The aroused sentry gets into trouble with his superior officer and is looking for pay-back when Kake reappears near the barracks. The resulting brawl ends with Kake being spanked, then fucked and even fisted.

It's quite hard to date the Kake stories but you can see here that we are at the time when censorship barriers are really starting to fall around Europe. Tom was taking a degree of risk depicting fetish elements like fisting here but we shouldn't overstate his role, he was reliant on and probably motivated by publishers prepared to push boundaries, they were the real agents of change. Denmark had opened the door by liberalisation of censorship but there were still legal uncertainties in the rest of the world where the big money was. Fortunately global judicial co-operation mechanisms were still unsophisticated but inevitably the porn publishing field was strewn with unreliable entrepreneurs and seedy chancers and dealing with them was to lead Tom, not for the first time in his life, into losses of work and money at their hands.
The Sounding  of Kake
The rough revenge taken by the troopers is seen by their officer and, in a re-run of Kake's encounter with the police, he is taken into custody as a trouble-maker, stripped and subjected to a dizzying succession of fetish punishments and 'tests'
 - starting with the long anticipated 'sounding' (above).

This is an earthquake for Kake fans, quite unlike anything that went before and in it's way quite shocking. I suspect it is a genuine first in gay publishing possibly pre-dating the milestone 1974 S&M video 'Born to Raise Hell'. The sudden revelation of Tom's deep knowledge of such things must have disturbed some and enraptured others.

It's not clear how great his interest was in dungeon scenes, his biographers give little away in this area, but you can tell from tit bits in other early drawings (which I will come back too) that he was interested in erotic sadism. However, he did not return to the dungeon subject in the Kake series, nor did he bother to develop more polished versions of the imagery, commercial considerations may have played a part in this.

There are few dungeon-like scenes in his later work but his lasting interest was shown in 1989, two years before his death, when he produced a dramatic picture showing a uniformed guard whipping the bare back of a chained prisoner in a dark, stone cell*.
It's drawn in a fluid style with crayons and quite unlike his earlier work.
*See Tom of Finland retrospective III, p174

Kake Rides The Saddle
This is the nearest Tom gets to a 'riding the wedge' scenario (see labels at foot of this post for others). I'm not a big fan of simultaneous multiple tortures (like these examples byTagame), but Tom's approach is at least progressive and he does not jump straight to the end result. In 'Raunchy Truckers' he shows the progressive disrobing and invasion of the confused hitcher, not instant nudity and penetration. The journey is as important as the destination. Here too he shows the stripping, restraining and application of each new torment to Kake's body gradually
 - at least he tries to, but 20 pages is not nearly enough.

The drawing here is not his best but nevertheless this work is still something of a tour-de-force. Producing it was swashbuckling adventurism worthy of Kake himself and you have to wonder how much of Tom's character is reflected in his hero.

Policeman Home Alone

Kake 15 is equally controversial in it's own way as a policeman home after work opens his front door in his underwear to find an armed man menacing him. Neither man appears to be Kake. The invader has a sinister appearance with long hair and a droopy moustache. The policeman is a muscular man with blond hair, suggesting purity perhaps but in virtually every other Kake story blond hair signifies desirability and ultimately submissiveness and passivity.
Humbled Cop
The cop is groped and forced to pleasure his attacker (above) before being cuffed to his own bed. As he gives up his ass to the intruder in a rough reworking of the Kake-1 scenario, Tom pans back ironically to reveal his discarded police trousers and boots and a row of body-building trophies on the side-unit, symbols of his authority and physical strength, which avail him of naught at this moment.

There's no pretence of consensus in this story, unless you cite the policeman's sexual response to the attack on him. The two men could be engaged in a rough role play, but there's no explanatory, rueful smiles to be seen. Superficially it reads like a man acting on a grudge or a sexual predator with a more aggressive disposition than Kake himself.

With these two episodes, the hard edge to Tom's work becomes glaringly obvious and fetish enthusiasts will love it. Dennis Forbes writes in the first Tom of Finland retrospective volume 1:- “...there is nothing mean spirited or sinister about a Tom fantasy”. 
Perhaps he never read Kake 15. It is sinister, but that quality does not derive from meanness of spirit, but from having experienced meanness of spirit. The sort of meanness depicted so melodramatically by the Guardsmen in Kake 14. In these two tales it's as though Tom has suddenly found the freedom to vent some deeply held feelings and he deserves to be heard.

Continued in Part 4

Links to previous articles: Part 1 and Part 2

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.