Howard Chaykin is a well respected artist in the American comic book industry. The creator of such series as American Flagg! and the adult-themed Black Kiss comic books, Chaykin cut his teeth illustrating for Marvel, DC, First Comics and later Heavy Metal magazine. One of Chaykin’s visual themes in his art is pin-up style seduction, kind of a cross between the pulp magazine femme fatales of the 1950s and X-rated glamour beauty. It’s a strange fusion, but under the masterful penmanship of Howard Chaykin, his female characters are equally sensuous and dangerous.
In 1988 Chaykin released Black Kiss, a 12-issue adult comic book series. The story was set in the seedy underbelly of Hollywood and focused on hard boiled Hollywood elite wrapped up in a mystery involving the Vatican, pornography used as blackmail, and a hidden cabal of vampires. The graphic sex and violence depicted in Black Kiss required it to be shipped inside a sealed plastic bag to ensure that underage readers couldn’t browse through an issue of Black Kiss in their local comic book shop.
Black Kiss allowed Chaykin to use black-and-white art for numerous erotic pin-up drawings of the characters:
While Chaykin’s women are sultry and often sexually provocative, these lingerie clad ladies went even further and were downright explicit. You’ve got to remember that Black Kiss was published in a time where scenes of hardcore sex were prohibitive inside any illustrated graphic novels or comics, even when the books were intended to be only sold to adults. Chaykin’s comic sold well, generated a ton of controversy, provoked the ire of concerned conservatives, and laid the groundwork for allowing more mature comic book stories and artwork to be published.
“Comic book readers have a tendency to be very embarrassed by anything that goes beyond pinup and cheesecake,” Chaykin said in a 2019 interview about his career. “When they introduced the concept of actual human desire, they get very itchy. They’re not comfortable with this.”
Around the same time, Chaykin started getting more work doing mature cheesecake style pin-ups. One of his publishers was Penthouse magazine. Chaykin’s work was featured in several of their men’s books, and might have laid the foundation for him working for the publisher later in the 1990s on their adult-themed Penthouse Comix line.
Of course, Chaykin has also done work for plenty of more mainstream comics. He’s drawn Batman, Wonder Woman, Nick Fury, Wolverine, DC’s cosmic characters like Tommy Tomorrow, The Punisher, Red Sonja and perhaps most notably, drew the first ten issues of Marvel’s Star Wars comic book when it launched in 1977.
More recently, Howard Chaykin serves as the illustrator and co-creator on the Image Comics series Satellite Sam. With its’ stories owing a big debt to 1940s noir mysteries, Satellite Sam also allows Chaykin another opportunity to showcase black lace on ladies legs.