Colleen Coover’s first major comic work was Small Favors, a ‘girly porno comic’ for adults. Small Favors tells the story of two women, Annie and Nibbil, who enthusiastically enjoy sexual romps with each other and with several other friends. Originally published in instalments by the Eros imprint of Fantagraphics Books, it has recently been reprinted in its entirety by Limerence Press in a collection which includes the previously unpublished colour sequence ‘A Girl of her Very Own’, behind-the-scenes materials, and a new introduction by Coover.
We have included the first two chapters of the collected Limerence volume here, but there are another couple of hundred pages of enjoyment to be had, plus the section of sketches and ‘pinups’ at the end of the book, so if you like what you see then buy the book, ideally directly from Limerence – the link is here.
Colleen Coover has been interviewed many times about her work; here we have extracted some relevant questions and replies relating directly to Small Favors. The first few questions come from a 2003 Sequential Art interview by Maria Allass, which you can read in its entirety here.
You’re probably best known for your work on Small Favors. What prompted you to choose the porn genre for your first major work?
Well, I knew it would never get boring! Also, I saw a need for some fun porn in comics. Mostly, I wanted to make the kind of pornographic book that I wanted to be reading.
You’ve described Small Favors as girly porn. What do you regard as being the defining factors of girly porn?
The subtitle A Girly Porno Comic Book is meant to be taken absolutely literally. It is girly in that it is feminine and cute, and features girly women. It is porno in that it is sexually explicit. And it’s a comic book. I chose to have the subtitle so that the casual browser in the shop would know what kind of stories to expect, since I don’t like to put any nudie action on the cover.
You have said that you think the female comics-reading audience is larger than is generally believed. Do you find that Small Favors attracts a large female audience?
Absolutely. A large percentage of letters and emails I get are from women (straight and queer) or men who share the comic with their wives or girlfriends.
Small Favors is one of the most sex-positive comics I've ever read, but isn’t using the word ‘pornographic’, with all of its negative connotations, a bit wrong?
I’ve never thought of pornography as inherently negative, so long as it’s consensual and adult. But when I started working on Small Favors, a lot of the porno comics that were then available were very much from the male perspective, created with the assumption that all readers of pornographic fiction are men, which tended to give those stories a vibe that felt exclusionary to women. I set out to make a comic that was sexy, that was about women and very much for women to enjoy, but also welcomed male readers.
The thing that strikes me the most about Small Favors is that it is obviously erotic and sexy, but also has a light-hearted and fun vibe that seems to be lacking in many sex-centred stories. How did you manage to make a comic so sexy yet so joyful?
That’s simple. I just left out anything that might be a bummer. Most bummer feelings about sex come from shame, and none of the main characters in Small Favors are much burdened by shameful feelings. No one is really mean, and no one is ever put into a situation where they’re uncomfortable. It’s very easy to be joyful when you live in a world where nothing bad happens and everyone is having delightful sex all the time.