I almost feel like what I’m about to review needs no introduction.
Oh Joy Sex Toy is an online webcomic founded by the incredibly talented Erika Moen and her husband Matthew Nolan. Its main focus is usually sex toy reviews but it also looks at a broad array of topics—including porn, lingerie, sex clubs, sexual health, and anything relating to sex, sexuality, and the sex industry.
During her time writing Erika has won the number one spot in Kinkly’s sex blogging superheroes list, she’s been featured on Jezebel, and has managed to build a career around doing something she loves.
As someone who found Erika’s work to be influential when I was first starting out in the sex blogging community I am incredibly happy to be reviewing this wonderful book. Needless to say it has my unconditional and wholehearted recommendation for anyone interested in sex toy reviews and the world of sex and sexuality as a whole.
Oh Joy Sex Toy Vol. 1
Oh Joy Sex Toy Vol. 1 compiles a significant amount of the Oh Joy Sex Toy comics in addition to guest comics and some exclusive bonus features. It can be purchased as a PDF or as a physical copy in Erika’s shop (via Topatoco). While the PDF is entirely passable I’m always of the opinion that nothing beats a physical book-in-hand, although shipping and customs to the UK may deter some people.
The design of Oh Joy Sex Toy Vol. 1 was done by Allyson Haller who has done a fantastic job. The entire book flows very smoothly and each transition is expertly executed and wholly in keeping with the comic’s tone.
The book starts with an introduction from Emily Nagoski exploring the top four most radically queer and perverted things about Erika and her art. The use of the term perverted here is a positive one. Erika celebrates sex and sexuality with such enthusiasm and joy. There is a sense of glee in her work that is utterly and totally infectious. What’s more her comics have such a friendly, accepting, and informal approach about them that they literally invite the viewer to relax and to learn to love and celebrate their own sexual preferences and desires.
Nagoski’s segment is a wonderful overview of Erika’s work and a great way to prime readers for the wonderful read that awaits them.
Character bios are then provided, which is another nice way to acquaint the reader with what they can expect from the comic. As well as the creators (who are, of course, very important) Oh Joy Sex Toy also uses characters called Masturbateers—fictional characters that act as proxies for Erika’s explanation of how various adult products work in action.
The most wonderful thing about these masturbateers is that they come in all shapes and sizes (and from all walks of life). This diverse representation of gender, race, body shape, and more allows readers to relate to Oh Joy Sex Toy in a way that they may not be able to with mainstream media. Erika even makes not of this in one of her interviews:
One reader wrote to Moen after Oh Joy, Sex Toy featured a female character who’d had a mastectomy. “The masturbateer had scarring around the chest and no boobs, but it was no big deal. She was just having sex and having a great time,” says Moen. “His wife had just had a mastectomy, and he said that she cried, because she had literally never seen another female figure with a mastectomy enjoying sex.” [Source]
Moving on from there the book then progresses to the various comic strips that Erika has produced. I don’t want to go into too much detail about these but let’s just say that each one is a piece of art in its own right. Each comic is witty, informative, inviting, and beautifully illustrated. When Erika dislikes a toy she still manages to explore it in a professional and productive manner and when Erika loves a toy, oh boy, do you know about it. Because each review or topic tackled comes in comic form there’s always so much to look at and no two reviews ever feel the same.
As someone who writes reviews I am constantly amazed at how Erika can fit so much information into such compact dialogues while also pairing that with such wonderful illustrations. The workload must be immense. And, yet, each comic strip comes out looking completely stream lined and polished—as if it were an organic and readily-flowing process (which, as a creator, I know is not the case; a lotta hard work and dedication goes into this sort of thing).
Later in the book Erika demonstrates just how much work goes into each strip by breaking down her creative process but that still doesn’t make the finished work seem any less flawless in an almost effortless way.
In this section Erika’s enthusiasm shines through. It’s clear that she loves sex and that she wants her viewers to love sex too. There are so many comic strips that I utterly adore but here are a few of my favourites:
The nJoy Butt Plugs: This very detailed look at nJoy’s range of butt plugs tells you everything you need to know about the products, in addition to providing some general information about using butt plugs. The anal safety snails also make an appearance in this strip, some of my favourite Oh Joy Sex Toy characters.
Ask A Porn Star- Jiz Lee: This comic panel introduced me to what would go on to be my favourite porn star. Jiz also answers all of the questions in a very insightful manner while Erika provides breath-taking illustrations to accompany each one. Overall a real winner for me!
Sex Toys in Relationships: Whenever someone comes to me with doubts about sex toys I tend to refer them to this comic. It’s approachable, it’s informative, and it’s jam-packed with great ways to get an apprehensive partner to open up to the idea of sex toys. There are also some masturbateers in this comic that look very similar to my partner and I, so I suppose there’s a bias there too.
Meet the Parents: A strip describing the first time Matthew met Erika’s less-than-enthusiastic mother. This comic does a good job exploring some of the difficulties of introducing your partner to your parents along with the clashes that can happen when different belief systems collide.
After Erika’s comics comes the guest strips—stunning comics lovingly illustrated by guest artists. There are so many great and varied comics in this section but I’d have to say that my favourite is Self Portrait, With Fur. I adore this comic. The art style is gorgeous, the story being told is involving, and the conclusion is perfect. Other honourable mentions include Dildo Misadventures and DIY BDSM Toys but you’ll have to explore those yourself.
From there the book moves on to bonus features—which includes tins like an FAQ, and exploration into the identifier ‘Queer’, and a look at Erika’s very first orgasm. The beautiful layout and content of this book makes it worth buying all by itself, but these bonus materials really are the icing on the cake—little extra features that make the book different from the webcomic.
Having romped merrily through the pages of this exquisitely sex positive book I highly recommend it to all of my readers. Erika and Matthew bring such wonderful personality to every page and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a comic that is so inviting to its readership.
If you’ve read the webcomic then you probably already know why this book is worth buying. However if you’re a new reader and you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth the cost I would say, without hesitation, yes. The layout and additional content adds even more character to Erika’s comic series and comments on the phenomenon that is Oh Joy Sex Toy in an astute and complimentary manner.
If you have a passion for sex and sexuality then there is something in this book for you. So what are you waiting for? Go buy it now!
People who like adult product reviews.
People who like comics.
People who are sex positive.
Do Not Recommend to:
People who dislike comics.
People who disapprove of sex positivity.
People who dislike owning free webcomics.