Thomas Leycester Poulton


Thomas Leycester Poulton was an English magazine and medical book illustrator, born in 1897. Upon his death in 1963 it was discovered he was also a prolific and imaginative erotic artist who produced hundreds of sketches and finished drawings of women proudly and exuberantly displaying themselves in ways shocking to conservative post-war Britain. Once one gets past the shock value it becomes clear that Poulton’s greatest talent was in portraying the human body in the sexual act, and since he did it with such rare insight many have argued he must have actually witnessed the orgies he put on paper. His ties to certain players in the 1963 Profumo scandal, breaking at the time of his death, hint that he may, in fact, have been the in-house artist at the parties that rocked the British Parliament. Poulton’s archive remained hidden from public view until the late 90s, when it turned up among the artifacts of an aging professional yachtsman who was dispersing his vast collection of erotica. Though Tom Poulton’s work tells us much about English society between 1948 and 1963, there is a universal quality to these images of joyous, uninhibited sexuality that transcends time and place.

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Alberto Vargas

Alberto Vargas was born in the city of Arequipa, Peru, on February 9, 1896. No one could have predicted that a humble son from a remote Andean town would create a legacy that both shaped and reflected the ideals of American beauty in the 20th century. His graceful, subtly-detailed paintings and portraits helped define the iconic image of the “pin-up” girl, cemented his name in the world of art, Hollywood and pop-culture, and continues to influence subsequent generations of artists. Now, through the Max Vargas Collection, Alberto’s legacy lives on.

The son of an internationally-known photographer, Max Vargas I, Alberto’s keen eye was immediately recognized and nurtured. As a boy he assisted his father in the studio–all the while learning the ins-and-outs of photography and artistic techniques including the retouching of negatives and the use of airbrushing. In 1911, he was sent to Europe (with his brother, Max Vargas II), for a Continental education and planned apprenticeship with a London photographer. However, his real education came by exposure to the great museums and galleries of France, Germany and Switzerland that showcased the late 19th century movements of Aestheticism and Decadence, along with the burgeoning schools of Dada and Surrealism. This experience was cut short by the international tensions which lead to World War I. In 1916, Alberto found himself sailing back home to Peru with a stop in New York City, a stop that changed his life and work.

The women of New York seized and forever changed his artistic vision. These were American women, vibrant and urbane, influenced more by the self-confident and vivacious Gibson Girl than the more conservative and trussed Victorian woman. He brashly decided to remain in New York as a freelance artist, passing up a life of comfort and inherited success, to follow his dream. After struggling to find consistent work, Alberto was offered a position with Florenz Ziegfeld’s famous Ziegfeld’sFollies, painting the portraits of noted showgirls. During this time, Alberto met one of his first regular models, muse and future wife, Anna Mae Clift, a strawberry blonde showgirl from Tennessee employed by Ziegfeld’s competition, the Greenwich Village Follies. The couple first worked together in 1917 and eventually married in 1930.

The Roaring Twenties kept Alberto employed as he continued to hone his craft. However, the waning success of the Follies and the ensuing Great Depression, hampered his ability to earn a living as a freelance artist. Cash-strapped and recently married, Alberto and Anna Mae headed west hoping that the connections he made doing ad work for New York movie studios would lead to work in Hollywood. There he found fairly consistent work at just about every studio, including 20th CenturyFox and Warner Brothers, designing sets, movie posters, and doing portraits of stars such as Shirley Temple, Greta Garbo, Ann Sheridan, Linda Darnell, Ava Gardner, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.
His Hollywood success changed in 1939 when Alberto took part in a walkout with fellow studio artists. They claimed mistreatment and unfair pay, however, this resulted in his being blackballed for future studio work. Unemployed, Alberto headed back to New York, hoping his contacts there would prove lucrative. Anna Mae stayed behind in California, doing what she could to bring in money from odd jobs to housing boarders in their Westwood home. Little did they know that their fortunes would reverse dramatically.

Esquire Magazine’s editor was seeking a replacement for George Petty, whose “Petty Girl” was enormously popular. Alberto was the perfect replacement and anxious to work. As World War II ensued, Esquire hoped to capitalize on the readership of American soldiers abroad hungry for reminders of home. Alberto’s first Esquire painting was published in 1940 with huge success. The magazine was flooded with letters requesting more. While working at Esquire, Alberto’s works were called “Varga Girls,” a name assigned by the magazine. Concurrent with his steady employment, Alberto also worked on freelance advertising projects and began work on an annual calendar of “Varga Girls,” a monumental success. His popularity with America’s troops was phenomenal: his iconic Betty Grable, Alice Faye and other pin-ups could be found in GI’s lockers in both Europe and the Pacific theaters, on the sides of bomber planes and even tattooed on the arms of Dogfaces every where.

Alberto’s contract came up for renewal in 1943, and was signed six months later. Discontent with the terms after he signed, Alberto took legal action. He initially won, however, lost upon appeal. As a result, he never worked for Esquire again and his creation, the “Varga Girl,” not only died a bitter death but was forever out of his hands.To add to their misfortune, expensive legal fees prevented Alberto and Anna Mae from taking any further legal action. They retreated to the comfort of their Westwood bungalow, indebted and disillusioned.

Once again, good fortune returned. In 1953, Alberto met Art Director Reid Austin, who was working at a start up magazine called Playboy. Playboy pushed the envelope (for content in a nationally circulated publication) with beautiful nude photography and scathing interviews with powerful political and pop-cultural figures. Alberto and Anna Mae met with Hugh Hefner in Chicago and showed him a collection of never before published nudes he had been working on for over ten years. Hefner couldn’t resist featuring the “Vargas Girls” and Alberto was once again employed. Tenure at Playboy gave Vargas stability and once again the opportunity to showcase his talent. Alberto’s career with Playboy proved to be stable, lucrative and long-lasting.

Alberto enjoyed several years of success at Playboy until suffering an immeasurable loss in 1974. Anna Mae, his wife, inspiration and love of 44 years
passed away. Heartbroken, his work suffered and he eventually parted with Playboy. Reid Austin, coworker and friend of Alberto, released a book of Alberto’s life’s work in 1978. Alberto traveled across the Americas and Europe one last time to promote its release and his art with his niece and nephew, Astrid Conte and Max Vargas III. Alberto died in Los Angeles in December of 1982.

Though gone, his legacy lives on. His talent as an artist and illustrator epitomized, shaped, documented, and in many ways, revolutionized the vision and beauty of the 20th Century Woman. The work of Alberto Vargas can be found in early newsprint advertisements and song sheets, as well as the album covers of rock bands such as The Cars and The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s. Vargas influenced and typified the iconic World War II “pin-up” as well as immortalizing images of the Hollywood celebrity.

Alberto’s friend Reid Austin, who helped Alberto publish and promote a book during the later years of his life, also authored Alberto Vargas: Works from the Max Vargas Collection published in 2006.

Alberto Vargas’s art means different things to different audiences; some are inspired while others see controversy. Wherever one stands, one cannot dispute the artistic and historical impact of his works.

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Milo Manara

Milo Manara is one of the few comic artists who manages to make erotic comics and still succeed in keeping a reputation as a genuine artist. This is especially true of his serial, ‘Giuseppe Bergman’, which is a combination of experimental narrative and explicit sex. Manara is known to be interested in painting in general and the classical painters like Rafael in specific. As a boy, he even ran away from home to see an exhibition of the painter Giorgio di Chirico.

Born in Luson (Bolzano), Maurilio Manaro initially earned a living by assisting sculptors. He became interested in comix in the late sixties. His first work appeared in the ‘Genius’ pocket books by publisher Furio Vanio in 1969, and in magazines like Terror, Telerompo, and the French magazines Alter-Linus and Charlie Mensuel. Other early creations include the sexy pirate ‘Jolanda’ with scriptwriter Francesco Rubino for publisher Erregi (1971-73). For the children’s magazine Corriere dei Ragazzi, he adapted ‘Le Decameron’ and worked with Milo Milani on the series ‘La Parola alla Giura’.

In 1976 came ‘Lo Scimmiotto’, the first of his more ambitious projects. Manara illustrated five episodes of the collection ‘L’Histoire de France en Bandes Dessinées’ for the French publisher Larousse between 1976 and 1978. In later years, Manara continued to work on similar educational collections, such as ‘La Découverte du Monde en Bandes Dessinées’ (Larousse, 1979), ‘L’Histoire de la Chine’ (1980) and ‘La Storia d’Italia a Fumetti’ (Mondadori, 1978).

Also in 1978, he cooperated with Alfredo Castelli on ‘L’Uomo delle Nevi’ for Cepim and he started with the series ‘Giuseppe Bergman’. This was first serialized in the legendary author comics magazine À Suivre by Casterman and it later also appeared in Italy in books published by Nuova Frontiera. Other work by Manara from this period include a variety of short stories that were published in À Suivre and collected in albums like ‘Trompeuse Apparence’ (Kesselring, 1984).

Manara briefly ventured into westerns with ‘Quatre Doigts, L’Homme de Papier’ in Pilote (1982), before establishing himself as one of the grandmasters of erotic comics. Manara’s book ‘Déclic’ (‘Il Cioco’ or ‘Click’ in English, 1983) was notorious for its erotic subject – a woman transforms into a nymphomaniac when a button is pushed. Initially published in Playmen in Italy and L’Écho des Savanes in France, sequels followed in 1991, 1994 and 2001.

In the years that followed, Manara produced erotic works like ‘Le Parfum de l’Invisible’ (two volumes, 1986 and 1995), ‘Candide Camera’ (1988), ‘Kama Sutra’ (1997), ‘Le Piège’ (1998), ‘Révolution’ (2000) and ‘Piranèse, la Planète Prison’ (2002), and also new stories with ‘Giuseppe Bergman’.

However, Manara also kept on working in other genres. With Hugo Pratt, for whom Manara has great respect, he worked on ‘L’Été Indien’ (in Corto Maltese) and ‘El Gaucho’ (in Il Grifo). Manara also worked with one of his other heroes, Federico Fellini, on ‘Voyage à Tulum’ (Corriere della Serra, 1986) and ‘Le Voyage de G. Mastorna dit Fernet’ (Il Grifo, 1992). With Enzo Biagi he participated in Mondadori’s series about ‘Christophe Colomb’ in 1992.

In 1995, Manara made ‘Gulliveriana’ for Les Humanoïdes Associés, loosely based on the oeuvre of Jonathan Swift. He worked with Neil Gaiman on ‘The Sandman: Endless Nights’ for DC/Vertigo in 2003 and relaunched ‘Giuseppe Bergman’ in BoDoï in 2004. In 2004 Manara teamed up with Alejandro Jodorowsky for a new series about the 15th century Pope family Borgia. He did an ‘X-Men’ project for Marvel with Chris Claremont, called ‘X-Women’, in 2009, and worked with Vincenzo Cerami on ‘Gli Occhi di Pandora’ (‘Pandora’s Eyes’) in the same year. In 2013 he started to do variant covers for issues of Marvel comic books.

Besides comics, Manara has produced a great variety of portfolios and illustrations for collections like Glamour Books. He has also done character designs for the animated TV series ‘City Hunters’.

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Spencer John Derry

Spencer John Derry is a UK professional artist. He’s accomplished in many genres including:- Surrealism, Erotic, Outsider Art, Landscapes and Portrait drawings. His styles include illustration, ink drawings, fine art landscape painting; in colour and black and white. He draws on his imagination for a great deal of his art. He has many Influences including Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Picasso, & H. R. Giger. Music, photography and films also inspire ideas which result in depictions and images in his work.

Spencer studied BTEC Art and Design at West Cheshire Art College in Chester. He gained a Bachelor of Arts with 2.1 (Hons) at Hull School of Art, University of Humberside in 1996.

Spencer was nominated for The Erotic Award : Artist of the Year 2012. Black Sheep Gallery, (Annual Open Exhibition) 2000: Highly Commended (Traditional) & Public Vote Award (Traditional). Nominated for the Randolph Caldecott Society Award in 1991 whilst at West Cheshire Art College.

Spencer’s erotic art was exhibited at Festival of Erotic Arts, Edinburgh in June 2012. His drawings were showcased at Festival Store at 2013, Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Showbox Sodo. He has also showcased his art in local galleries including Liverpool. Most of his artwork is now displayed and sold on the internet.

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Brian Bolland


Brian Bolland (born 26 March 1951)[1] is a British comics artist. Best known in the UK as one of the definitive Judge Dredd artists for British comics anthology 2000 AD, he spearheaded the ‘British Invasion’ of the American comics industry, and in 1982 produced the artwork on Camelot 3000 (with author Mike W. Barr), which was DC Comics’ first 12-issue comicbook maxiseries[2] created for the direct market.[3]

His rare forays into interior art also include Batman: The Killing Joke, with UK-based writer Alan Moore, and a self-penned Batman: Black and White story. Bolland remains in high demand as a cover artist, producing the vast majority of his work for DC Comics.

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Since he was a child he enjoyed drawing and started copying Disney’s characters and then he discovered the passion for comics, struck by Magnus at the tender age of ten, with the well-known Alan Ford and the Marvel super-heroes.

After the school-leaving certificate at the Arts High school of Venice, he tried the way of the commercial artist, but he soon understood it wasn’t the right one for him.

In 1997 occurred the turning point to the world of publishing, as a professional illustrator, at the Sergio Bonelli Editore where he cooperated to Legs Weaver, Agenzia Alfa and Nathan Never’s headings.

Since 2008 he started the production of some erotic stories and sexy illustration creating Ethel’s character, a bisexual girl always looking for adventures at the end of censure.

He published some short comic-strip stories and a cover in Francesco Coniglio Editore’s Xcomics and in Erotic Factory for E.F. Edizioni.

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Giovanni Romanini


Giovanni Romanini (1945) began his career in the field of animation, where he cooperated on the television series ‘Carosello’. His early comics work includes ‘Satanik’ and ‘Kriminal’.

He cooperated with the artist Magnus on several episodes of the series ‘Alan Ford’, as well as ‘La Valle del Terrore’ in Special Tex and ‘La Compagnia della Forca’. Romanini created horror and erotic comics for Edifumetto and cooperated with several foreign publishers.

As a commercial artist he worked for Panini and De Agostini. From 1992 to 1995 he cooperated on the Disney magazine Topolino, where he illustrated ‘Donald Duck’ stories. He then became an illustrator of ‘Martin Mystère’ at Bonelli publishers.

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