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(Feb 18th 2018)

Monday, 29 August 2016

Tom of Finland's Beards - 2

Continued from part 1

The next appearance by a bearded man is in the rather bizarre Kake No 8 (The Hijacker).
In this story he actually plays a leading role. It's as a villain again - the rather stylishly-dressed leader of the hijacking gang. Unfortunately he has a weakness for men in leather jackets. He forces Kake to service him at gunpoint, but Kake seduces him and distracts him long enough to save the passengers. (This was pre-9/11 of course when hijackers generally did not kill their hostages but just carted them off to remote runways). Like his previous incarnation as a thief, this villain has a very hairy body as well as a beard - and he seems equally inept too.

In Kake No 9 'Coq D'Or' (1971) there's a rather delightful cameo role for the the bearded character as a deliciously muscular, but very rough-looking (dock?) worker. He makes up a threesome briefly by taking advantage of Kake's unprotected ass whilst he is otherwise engaged with a Sailor (whom I take to be French on account of his hooped T-shirt). Unfortunately beardie is soon whisked off, being ear-tweaked by his indignant wife . I suppose it's a matter of opinion whether you see infidelity as a villainous role (interestingly Tom gives him a hairless torso this time). This man certainly perpetuates the tradition of hapless, bearded misadventurers.

This is the last beard appearance in the Kake series. However, the hairy bandit in 'Kake in the Wild West' much later on (1982) is also an inept villain and seems to be a bit of a throwback to this era, but with a makeover. He sports abundant stubble but not a true beard and his prolific body hair is also much more tidy compared with the bearded characters we've been looking at up until now. I can't work out if it's beards or bodily hair (or both) that Tom associates with incompetence and villainy.

 As a slight diversion, one of my older articles on Tom Sailors includes two separate examples of hairy-chested men, one is a bullying sailor (villain) and the other an inept motorcyclist (incompetant), Neither have beards, but this ying and yang of masculinity - manly assertiveness and boyish foolishness are the essence of Kake himself if you think about it.

The bearded stereotype reappears in 1973, in one of the short-lived 'Mike' series of cartoons. Here he plays a smug-looking man, conspicuously well dressed. In other words an embodiment of conventionality and possibly vanity too. He allows himself to be seduced and sucked off by Mike while talking to his girlfriend (or wife) at the same time in a Public Telephone kiosk. He even allows a passing Sailor to join in, but makes off, narrowly escaping exposure when an indignant woman demands to use the phone.

Up to this time Tom only used bearded characters in his comic formats, not in his more polished and sensual pictures, which suggests he was more interested in them as characters rather than as objects of desire, worthy of being laboured over in the creation process. This all changes in 1973 when there's a flurry of notable pictures. In this one, the beard is being rehabilitated from the role of outright villain. It's not clear whether he's shed the role of moonlighting husband, but for the first time here, he's seen simply cruising, seeking to hook up with a Kake-like biker who's fresh from another steamy encounter, by the look of it. This beardie is once again notably well groomed and tidy, still somewhat straight-looking and conventional (an irresistible challenge!). He actually seems to be aspiring to become a biker himself here, although he's not yet fully leathered up. In fact this denim outfit harks back to the starting point of this article and the Hell's Angel character in Part one.

In this 1973 picture the transformation is startling. This is the first time where Tom fully expresses the beard character's 'beef-cake' and erotic credentials and the quality of the drawing tells you how much Tom cares about him. He's even manging to distract 'Kake' from a stunning, black Adonis in this image. His relatively youthful appearance signifies a sea-change in the way Tom see beards.

In this image, the bearded man fully sheds his recent image of respectability and becomes a fully fledged leather man. He even gets to take the lead in this memorable image of a woodland spanking ritual. If you look at the picture it really seems as though the other bikers are standing aside and allowing him to take charge, somewhat to the consternation of the immobilised recipient who is perhaps reflecting anew on the rough, bad and masculine associations of this character which go back to Kake 2. Certainly the way he's flexing that belt promises no easy ride for this initiate.

This dominant leatherman is quite a promotion for beardies from the roles of thief and philander. Still playing the bad guy in a sense, but this is a bad guy who commands respect.

continued in  part 3

For other Tom of Finland material click on the label below or consult my Index of Tom Articles

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