One of the great things about the comic book medium is how genres, styles, themes and messages can be combined in every concievable combination with nothing but a few strokes of ink, some word balloons, and a printing company willing to extend credit. Exactly this sort of juxtaposed mashup happened in the early 1990s when America's favorite comic pastiche of Japanese pop culture tropes rolled up its sleeves, put on some disposable non-latex gloves, asked us all to strip down to our underwear, and gave us a dose of education about sexually transmitted diseases!

Usually this kind of health education comic is financed by government or industry, and stars crusty old legacy characters like Popeye or Blondie. But Ninja High School was and is an independent comic book, still published by Antarctic out of San Antonio Texas, still working the same side of the street for an audience that wants to read something kind of like Urusei Yatsura, but not Urusei Yatsura exactly. Turns out NHS (that's Ninja High School, not National Health Service) creator Ben Dunn's sibling is a doctor who wanted to use comics to educate the kids about STDs and figured bro's comic book was a great place to start. But is it? Turn your head and cough and we'll find out!

Ninja High School is a normal high school except that one of the students is a busty ninja girl named Ichi Koo and another student is a busty space alien girl. They're both inexplicably attracted to average kid Jeremy. Naturally wacky hijinx ensue! Like, say, girls getting so annoyed about having to mention their "time of the month" that their head gets huge, that's a thing that happens in the Japanese cartoons of the late 1980s that Ninja High School is steeped in the aesthetic of.

Hey Jeremy, want a problem of your own? It's 2021 and if you were a teenager in 1992, now it's time to start worrying about erectile dysfunction and your prostate! Meanwhile, we learn the planet Salusia isn't afraid to discuss menstruation, unlike Earth, where endless cycles of feminine hygiene product TV commercials only air twelve or fifteen hours a day.

Well, hello there, fellow student whom we've never seen before in this comic's universe. I wonder if you're here to act as an example of one of the many exciting infections we're going to be told about?

Looks like that NHS vs Riverdale football game - and the post-game parties - were fun for everybody, but extra fun for a lucky few! (don't tell Archie.)

Looks like Rich didn't listen to his grandma! He went swimming right after eating instead of waiting an hour. You were warned, Rich!

There's a lot happening here, but I want everyone to take a look at that caption "Later..." and think about every time you've been to the emergency room and how many hours you sat there gritting your teeth trying to hold the wound closed, while you waited and wondered if your insurance card was in your wallet. Then I want you to watch Doctor Lady here explain everything to Jeremy, who is not Rich's parent or guardian or even a relative. Doctor-patient confidentiality? What's that?

First let me change into a more comfortable typeface. There, that's better. And now, let's talk about sexually transmitted diseases. Stop smirking!

Oh yeah! Talk urinary tract infections to me, baby!

YES you CAN actually get UTIs from sex. It's not just from poor wiping technique any more!

Tiny devils jabbing at your groin? Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation? This is either a UTI, or waking up the morning after a wild party where you drank too much, ate too many Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and got kicked in the balls by both the girl you hit on AND her boyfriend. Fun times!

UTIs can kill you. If it hurts to pee, stop reading this comic book and get to the doctor! (If you MUST keep reading, bring this comic along and you can read it in the waiting room)

Here are some facts about gonorrhea, represented here in this scientific chart by Pac-Man flanked by what appear to be several off-brand Power Rangers.

For some guys, that transition in the first panel is two seconds, not two weeks. But that's all right. It happens to everybody. We'll try again later.

And hey! Sometimes you can get two - that's right, TWO DISEASES for the price of one! So come on down for our fire sale where it's YOUR GENITAL REGION that's on fire!

What did Paul Gauguin, Scott Joplin, maybe Franz Schubert, and Al Capone all have in common? They didn't bother with those wimpy beginner's venereal diseases, they were superstars for whom only the baddest, most debilitating venereal disease would do - syphilis!

Painful lesions, pustular rashes, hair loss, liver, eye, and joint inflammation, face tumors, syphilitic meningitis, dementia, delusions, seizures, depression, and psychosis! It's all part of why syphilis is a horrifying nightmare whose terrifying portent is softened only slightly by the silly cartoony guy going bald.

When I took sex ed in school we didn't have Ninja High School to teach us about VD. We were showns educational films featuring explicit photos of what exactly "the syph" does to a human body. It's a bit more than some sad dude in a wheelchair, believe me!

And since this comic is from the 1990s there is a section about AIDS.

I don't have anything funny to say here.

FUN GAME FOR BUDDING EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS: Just take this picture here and put new labels on everybody! For instance, the knight can be "the American consumer" and the tentacles can be "rising interest rates" and the monster can be "the weakening US dollar." It's easy and fun!

Antiretroviral therapy thankfully means HIV/AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence for many. This is a relief, especially for all those guys who had to dress up in skull masks and hold up signs reminding people how long they had left. Time to find new jobs, fellas!

Wow, Jeremy, your school's sex ed classes must really stink! Admittedly the place is called "Ninja High School," and not "Sensible Health Education High School." I'm sure their ninja classes are top notch.

"I never thought it could happen to Rich. Not the STDs, but the actual having sex part. Rich is a total creep!"

It's here, near the very end, where condoms finally make an appearance, presented for the prevention of disease only. Ninja High School's state leads the nation in teenage pregnancy and they want to keep it that way!

And "is you" have questions about STDs, talk to your teacher or your parents or a guidance counselor or that weird older guy who buys you teens liquor or the guy at the record store or a doctor. And our question for this comic is, WHAT ABOUT HERPES? You spent three solid pages on UTIs but won't mention herpes? Come on, Ninja High School Talks About STDs, answer THAT question.

Of course "Ninja High School Talks About STDs, What People Should Know" isn't the only comic to tackle VD head-on. Back in the late 1960s the explosion of the hippie "free love" culture led to an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases as the sweaty crotchal regions of flower children, already known for their iffy hygiene, served as the beach-head for an invasion of clap, crabs, syph, and other side benefits of attending three day rock festivals. Faced with this menace, the Rip Off Press of San Francisco published "Incredible Facts O' Life Funnies", featuring stories about birth control, abortion, and various hideous STDs, rendered by some of the brightest stars of underground comix in a less cutesy and more, shall we say, direct fashion.

You just gotta be more careful where you stick that thing! Words to live by.

I know this feature is called "Stupid Comics" but let's be real, these comics are tackling a serious issue head on and on their own dime, and this kind of thing ought to be applauded instead of made fun of. Well, maybe we can do both. Use protection and stay safe out there, kids (and adults)!

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