Warning: this post contains NSFW imagery.
Oh Joy Sex Toy (OJST) is a widely acclaimed sex ed webcomic and resource created by the ever fantastic Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, that also regularly features special guest illustrators showcasing their erotica and other topics surrounding sexuality. In honor of their upcoming release of the Third Volume of OJST, as well as a coloring book coming out in February of 2017, I decided to catch up with these two awesome human beings on all of the exciting developments happening with their collective work.
Without further adieu, here are the answers to some of my most pressing questions!
What role do you see OJST as having in the broader sphere of sex education and how has that role evolved since you first launched the comic?
Matt: Gosh I’m not sure! I think we help fill a small void in sex education resources, we’ve been able to bridge creative education and practical education, which I think has always been quite hard to do. While I don’t think we set out to designate ourselves a role, I think we’ve evolved into a unique platform able to make relatable and appealing education. Comics are awesome like that!
Erika: Haha, having a role in the broader sphere of sex education sounds so much grander than anything I envisioned! It’s more like, we had an idea and we went and did it and I’m just so surprised and grateful that it has found an audience. Sex is generally presented in such an overwhelming, scary, or clinical way and we wanted to share information in a way that felt warm, welcoming, friendly, and goofy.
In what ways do you feel that you have both grown as sex educators and artists since Volume 2’s release?
Matt: We’ve definitely figured out a formula and language. It’s become easier and easier to solidify in our minds what we think makes for ‘good education’. When we first started we were just trying our best, trying to keep things positive and fun and relatable: education that our younger selves would have been open to.
It’s only really been a year since Volume 2, and I don’t know if we’ve had any real sex education lessons since. Most of the learning has been to do with the other side of the business: time management, learning to keep things fresh, learning to keep ourselves energised. When all that background stuff is working great, we make really great comics. It’s a constant lesson in learning our own boundaries.
Erika: I’ve become more confident talking about sex stuff since we first began. Originally, I was very averse to being called a “Sex Educator” because I just didn’t feel friggin’ qualified. I’m not formally educated in any way, I mean, I majored in COMIC BOOKS in college for goodness sake! I’m just a passionate nerd who reads a lot about sex stuff, just like there’s passionate nerds out there who read a lot about Star Wars stuff. Doesn’t mean either of us are qualified to be expert professors of the subject, y’know? All the information in OJST comes straight from Scarleteen.com, PlannedParenthood.org, Wikipedia, and my resource books, like S.E.X. by Heather Corrina (founder of Scarleteen), Changing Bodies, Changing Lives by Ruth Bell, and more. So don’t worry, I AM fact-checking from reputable sources! But I see myself more as an information recycler than an actual sex educator. I take other people’s research and findings and incorporate that information into fun and engaging drawings with friendly dialogue. I bring the human touch to technical information. I see myself as a cartoonist who draws sex education comics. …which I realize is a much more convoluted way of saying “Sex Educator”, so I’ve become better about accepting that as my title, even though I still don’t feel worthy of it.
Artistically, oh my gosh, I have improved SO MUCH. I am SO FRIGGIN’ PROUD of how much better my ability to draw keeps getting. I still have so much further to go, my weak points will always been painfully obvious to me, but even I can see that my ability has improved so much from last year and especially since we started the comic in 2013. Drawing is like exercising; the more regularly and frequently you do it, the more you will see progress.
In addition to Volume 3 of OJST coming out, there’s also a coloring book releasing on February 8, 2017. What is unique about the OJST coloring book that no other sex themed coloring book has to offer?
Matt: I think diversity and a fresh style! A Lot of the coloring books we’ve seen all look rotoscoped/traced and vectorised. They all have a similar style. This coloring book is Erika’s art which is VERY stylised, very comical and very unique! At the same time, we take great lengths to include all kinds of humans in our work, our coloring book reflects that and has a huge pool of diversity showcased inside of it. We’re super proud of it!
Erika: Yup! Most of the sexy coloring books I’ve seen have shown more realistic-type people, and mine is much more cartoon-y. And, like Matt said, mine shows a much broader range of bodies than are typically shown in mainstream sexual contexts; lots of happy and sexy larger folks and folks with disabilities.
There were a lot of really great guest illustrators and writers over the past year, how do you decide which creators are a good fit for inclusion in OJST?
Matt: I look for comics artists who are professional, have a good comics portfolio, and have a solid pitch. If they cover a kink or anything like that, I require they have first hand knowledge of it too. I generally look for people who are passionate about sex, people who GET what OJST is all about, and people who I would be honoured to have showcased on the site. We get a lot of really passionate applications, and it’s really hard to pick who gets in: so I try to really give priority to personal stories: love letters to a kink or a subject. If the guest artist is excited and passionate for a topic, our reader will feel it too.
Erika: Yup! What Matt said.
You’ve both been paving new ground by forging your own careers in sex education for a number of years now, where do you hope to see that work take you over the next year?
Matt: I’m not sure! We’re excited to see where our relationship with Limerence Press will take us. Working with them has been so great, so I want to keep doing that. Eventually we want to do a printed book of JUST our sex education comics, but I think we’re probably another year away from having enough content for that.
In the meantime I guess our priority is just sustainability. We want to keep doing what we’re doing, we LOVE working on Oh Joy Sex Toy. So learning to maintain our process, while keeping it fresh and exciting, is the aim. Recently we’ve been trying to think up ways to change the formula a bit: inject a bit more of our personal lives and selves into it all. People really like it when we just ‘talk’ in a comic, it’s crazy, but they like US, so we want to do more adventure/discussion comics.
Erika: Haha, again ditto-ing everything Matt just said! I want to tell more personal stories in general, ones that have nothing to do with sex even. I’d also really like to do comics that cover theories about sex more, to go beyond talking about the physicality of how things work and get into some of the more philosophical and psychological aspects.
You can preorder OJST Volume 3 right now online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books a Million. Alternatively, if you’d like the book to come in through your local shop then please encourage them to go to this link or give them the preorder Diamond Code: OCT161710.