One of Cavelo's most notable works is the set of about 50 illustrations he did for a Zeus comic book based loosely around the myth of the labours of Hercules and recounting a supposed 9th labour to obtain the loincloth of the King of the Manazons. The image above shows one of the many ordeals Hercules has to undergo and there are other very imaginative and well drawn episodes. In fact it works better as a set than as individual drawings. In this example you can see straight away that Cavelo ha
In this example Cavelo's distinctive style (for me) overpowers his subject matter. Hercules is shown with very dark skin colouring, focussing our attention on him, but the shading is so dense that it brings the figure forward visually and detaches it from the rest of the composition. The other lightly sketched figures to the side are visually pushed aside and the sense of them standing around Hercules watching him suffer is lost. It doesn't help that Hercules is looking at us not them. Fortunately our brains are able to use the relative figure sizes to redress the balance once the scene has been fully taken in.
For me historical imagery tends to lack immediacy and modern relevance, which I regard as a pre-requisite if erotica is to work it's dark magic on us. It's hard to get worked up about someone who would have lived and died centuries back. This example is more ambiguous than some since the costumes we can see are equally appropriate to modern times. You can also re-imagine the scene as a modern day film set where the actor playing the captive is the only one who didn't know that the director was aiming at extreme realism for torture and subsequent scenes. For this 'Stephen King' reading of the image, any lapses in historical realism are unimportant, in fact they are advantageous, serving to convey the frightening, underlying reality.