Jess Fink has created the best book about Victorian robot sex that we've ever read

jess fink chester panels

Admittedly, it's also the first book about Victorian robot sex that we've ever read.

Troy artist Jess Fink is a successful illustrator and t-shirt designer. If imitation is flattery, she's gotten a lot of compliments for her work.

Jess also creates comics. One of those comics -- Chester 5000 XYV -- was recently published in graphic novel form. And it's gotten praise in a bunch of places, among them: Paste, The AV Club, and io9.

So, what's Chester 5000 XYV about? Oh, it's just another Victorian-era tale of a man who creates a sex robot for his wife -- in all its graphic detail.

Here's the site for the Chester 5000 XYV web comic -- uh, no, it's probably not safe for work. But this interview should be.

jess fink chester coverSo, a story about Victorian robot sex -- how'd that come about?

Haha, um well. I've been interested in how people in era's past have dealt with sexuality for some time. A big inspiration was the Tijuana Bibles which were these little dirty comics people sold illegally in the 20s-50s.

I also had an interest in early erotic photography. Basically the Victorians are famous for being prudes, having no knowledge of the female orgasm and little sex education, yet there is a lot of erotic art from that era. I thought the juxtaposition of sexual discovery and prudish Victorian values would be fun.

I had also been drawing short erotic comics for EROS/Fantagraphics books at the time and I thought a longer story would allow me to stretch my legs.

The book is explicit -- it shows *everything*. Why go that direction, rather than leaving something to the imagination?

Personally I like my porn to be dirty, if I wanted something left to the imagination I'd read a romance novel where they use code words like "his mighty staff" and her "dewy flower". I don't think there is anything wrong with explicit sex, it seems to get treated as if it's something disgusting, as if seeing everything suddenly makes it unacceptable.

The problem is there aren't a lot of stories that feature explicit sex that also have... story. I've always searched for erotica with characters that felt real and a story that actually held weight. Erotica/porn as a genre is really no different from sci-fi or any other genre. I don't like watching sci-fi movies that are all about explosions and laser battles and nothing else. I want a story to go with it so that the action matters. I feel the same way about pornography. So, yeah it's dirty but hopefully it's a bit more than that, too.

Even though the story is set in a previous era (with robots), we couldn't help but think of Chester's allure as being like that of some modern tech device -- an iPad or something like that. You know, we're pretty sure there are people who've left their partners for Kindles (figuratively, perhaps literally). Did you have any modern observations that made their way into the story?

Oh man. There is some device derived inspiration in the story along those lines... but it's not very modern.

Around 1883 the first vibrator was invented and it was marketed as a cure for hysteria. Hysteria was a name for a medical problem plaguing women, basically it was the female sex drive. People back then didn't have sex education, they didn't understand that women enjoyed having sex and neither did the women who felt this way. The solution for many of them was to go to the doctor, the doctor or midwife would administer treatment by vibrator bringing the women to paroxysm, or you know, orgasm. Women started buying vibrators in DROVES but eventually someone caught on that this wasn't something medical, it was sexual and vibrators were actually banned for a time.

The story in Chester is slightly inspired by this crazyness, the idea of women taking control of their own sexuality in a time when sex wasn't understood or acceptable for women to enjoy. I did a short comic about this as well.

We kind of doubt there are many guys who would write a story about a husband making a robot sex partner for his wife -- and then the wife falling in love with the robot. How do you think porn is influenced by the gender of its author?

Well, women and men are attracted to different things so it definitely influences the erotica they make and choose. I definitely think there isn't enough pornography targeted at women and having more women making porn would definitely change that. This is a huge problem in mainstream porn. For one thing porn that isn't made for women doesn't feature attractive men, the camera is completely focused on the woman, the camera view is from a male perspective. The female gaze and what women actually want to see isn't something that gets an awful lot of play anywhere. People also assume that women don't even like porn, but the huge community of ladies reading Japanese guy-on-guy erotic comics says otherwise.

Women like to see sexy men and they like stories. Web comics are changing this too, there are tons of sexy comics drawn by women, Oglaf and Starfighter for example. And that's not to say men don't make great erotic comics too. Curvy is one of my favorites and I think it appeals to both genders.

A lot of your work involves sex, farts and other things that people normally don't like to talk openly about. Why do you think you're drawn in that direction?

Fart jokes are the universal uniter of us all. We may not be able to agree on much in this world, but anyone can laugh at a fart.

Would you have sex with a robot?

Sure, if it was sweet to me.

Jess has another graphic novel coming out this fall -- We Can Fix It! is about a future version of herself using a time machine to travel back in time in an attempt to teach her younger selves a lesson. It ends up not exactly working out that way.


She also created the amazing new logo for the Hellions of Troy roller derby league!

Love it!

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