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(Oct 12th 2017)

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Art of Tacitus

Tacitus has created a nostalgic selection of bondage images in the semi-realistic cartoon style traditionally used in the commercial marketplace for comic books aimed at the 'intermediate' youth bracket. In keeping with that tradition the age of his captured heroes is somewhat ambiguous but they seem sufficiently mature I think to include here.

Skribble by Tacitus
This image depicting the capture of a young man, who has no doubt been interfering with the plans of an evil gang, is carefully drawn and full of endearing little details - like the crumpled bottoms of the jeans, the puckered stitching of the villain's puffer jacket and the dangling belt tongue.

Tacitus - Bound in Leather Jacket
 In this sequel, the bondage has been augmented with a good deal of rope but as you can see the treatment of the captive by the gang is otherwise entirely proper and Tacitus leaves it at that, in keeping with the mores of the mainstream publications which he emulates.

Tacitus - Tarzan Captured by Arab Slave Traders
 The artist is rather less circumspect in this example with a mildly erotic depiction of a young Tarzan being taken prisoner by a gang of slave traders. Tarzan's skimpy outfit is in accord with the original story but the interesting shaping speaks volumes! The contrast between Tarzan's near nudity and his fully-dressed captors creates a frisson of helpless as he is abducted into a very different world. The attachment of ankle irons is a hugely symbolic and effective detail. I need hardly point out that the stereotyping of the Arabs is questionable, but it does lend power to the drama of Tarzan's emphatic subjugation. The representation of the other Black captives in the background is less easy to defend.

Tacitus - Young Slave 1
 Another slave scenario, from the Roman era ostensibly, but the captive's trousers and belt suggest he might have arrived here from a later time making his predicament in the pawing hands of another unscrupulous slave dealer just that bit more strange and frightening. (And perhaps a little stimulating).

Tacitus - Young Slave 2
Stripped naked, the slave's body has suddenly acquired an attractive, sensuous quality and he trembles as two potential buyers explore those attractions at close quarters. This picture is the most overtly erotic of my selection but the conventional teen-comic uses of the drawing style seems to apply a veneer of  harmless adventure to the scene. In a way this gives it a nightmarish quality, a world not behaving as it should. It trivialises the gravity of the prospective slave's situation, but we (like him) can perceive in the portrayal of the two wealthy Romans two different but both unpleasant and demanding personalities. The captive seems to appeal to us to intervene, but he is trapped in the comic dimension and beyond all help.

I've added Tacitus to my A-Z series. 
He has a small volume of work published at Tacitus on Deviant Art
See also TacitusComics (link copied from Telemachus)
 I'd welcome any other information about him

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