Hustler Comix vs Penthouse Comix

In the tradition of Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated, two “Big Gun” companies have decided to dive into the growing pool of adult cartoon compilations with their magazine sized, 80-page anthologies.

While Penthouse Comix tries to be a sexier version of the popular, still-published Heavy Metal, Hustler Comix tries to be Penthouse Comix trying to be Heavy Metal. First released in spring 1997, Hustler Comix was born about a year after Penthouse’s anthology and runs about a dozen pages of nude photographs and video ads throughout. Penthouse Comix is pretty much cover to cover comics, with a wider range of art styles and storytelling.

Hustler Comix editor-in-chief Bruce David, says, in his introduction to the very first Hustler Comix, “HC has been designed to feature action, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy and sex.” If you enjoy genre fiction spiced with nudity and intercourse (and a lot of tongue in... uh... cheek humor), then Hustler Comix delivers. The first two issues contain segments of serialized stories and a couple of short one-shots, the serialized bulk of this Hustler breakfast being space/alien sex, nudie horror, crime with sex, more space/alien sex, erotic horror, and tons more sci-fi sex (capped off with plenty phone sex and mail-order advertisements). The thing that I like most about Hustler Comix is its self-professed encouragement of new talent. It also hopes to soon be on a bi-monthly schedule, which would make reading its serialized format less frustrating.

Penthouse Comix just has better storytellers and more content for your five dollars, though. It has an “artsy” feel and seasoned artists, like Europe’s Daniel Torres, Milo Manara, and Moebious. It has a wider range of styles, from painted dinosaur fantasy to penciled-and-shaded schoolteacher fantasy to clunky, cartoony crime and war stories. Like Hustler Comix there’s plenty of genre fiction, but there are more self-contained stories and the serialized segments last longer. My favorite part of Penthouse Comix is when it changes format from slick, glossy paper to cardstock midway through. This unique change of paper stock, and a change from full-color to two-color, enhances “Kodiak,” a Sin City crime-noir serial, and “Radio Murders,” a spicy, sex-text serial. “Aphrodite,” by Daniel Torres, is easily the most memorable story in this Penthouse Comix May issue, mixing myth and magic with both detective work and science fiction. This story represents the experimental, “cutting edge” flair that Penthouse Comix shoots for.

Even though Penthouse Comix wins the title in this adult anthology bout, both magazines are too devoted to genre fiction. Older, more irregularly published anthologies, like Cruel And Unusual Punishment and Screw Comics, mix humor and social satire with sex in an intellectual way that makes them more satisfying. The idea of serializing stories from month to month (or season to season, in the case of Hustler Comix) is also mighty annoying. Either magazine is guaranteed to provide some laughs, and, at about five bucks each, both are good buys these days. I’d go with Hustler if you want more T and A and Penthouse if you want a longer read. You'll find both at Bad Kitty.

Next Month: The freedom of speech and the rights of workers (heavy stuff) are explored in the Pander Bros.’ powerful Triple X..

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