Review: Young Bottoms in Love

Artist(s): Abby Denson, Adam DeKracker, Adam Leveille, Andy Swist, Ariel Guzman, Bill Roundy, Brett Hopkins, Craig Bostick, Dave Ortega, Dave Roman, David Kelly, Decker, Fabián Álvarez López, Frank Muse, François Peneaud, Gregory Lockard, Howard Cruse, Jack Lawrence, Jay Laird, Jeff Krell, Jen Van Meter, Jim Gladstone, Justin Hall, Kyle Cummings, Lynx Delirium, Martin Schneebalg, Melody Nadia Shickley, Michael DiMotta, Monica Gallagher, Nate and Mike K., Noel Miciano, Paige Braddock, Phil Good, Rachel Millar, Randall Kirby, Richard Ruane, Robert Kirby, Roger Zanni, Stephen Sadowski, Steven Walters, Ted Manning, Theo Bain, Tim Fish, Tim Piotrowski.

The long-running online gay anthology comes to print, with this collection of strips selected by editor Tim Fish, alongside some new stories and illustrations.
The variety of art styles is rather impressive. Here’s a little gallery:

Tim Fish's plays with romance comics

A panel by Brett Hopkins

A panel by Andy Swist

Michael DiMotta's Beauty & The Beast

An illustration by Craig Bostick

Nate and Mike K.'s hunky men

Tim Fish had launched Young Bottoms in Love back in July 2002 as both a satire and an homage to the 50′s (straight) romance comics famously “invented” by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby. He drew most of the first stories, although Brett Hopkins was present very early. Young gay characters in and out of love were the focus of most of the stories, which ranged from rather realistic to extremely quirky. Over the next 3 years and a half, almost 500 pages of gay romance comics were published on the PopImage site, which makes YBIL one of the longest running gay comics anthology (alongside Meatmen, which was mostly porn/erotic comics, and Gay Comix/Comics, which showcased half lesbian artists and half gay ones, with a few straight and transgender contributors).
The present book1 collects about two thirds of the original strips, with an obvious care given to printing quality. This is a gorgeous book: thick paper, nice covers which bend but don’t crease, and vibrant colors which don’t eat up the line art.
Of course, I have favorites among the strips, and among the writers and artists (some are included in the excerpts above), but I do think that Fish and the other editors of the online anthology must be commended for giving to all the involved creators the opportunity to show their work. And I want to thank them for allowing me to write three stories for YBIL, the last of which, drawn by Maurice Vellekoop-influenced Spanish artist Roger Zanni, is included in the book. I’m really proud of it, too, and I’m objective enough to say it’s very well drawn.
If you’ve read the online version of YBIL, you know what to expect from this book. But you have about 25 pages of new content and a good number of illustrations by artists like Stephen Sadowski or Adam DeKraker. If you’re new to YBIL, here’s a sample of what the stories have to offer: romance, romance and romance. Between teenagers, post-teenagers, a man and Bigfoot, with various ghosts, a talking car and the Queer Eye guys thrown in. You’ll also find gay retellings of classical myths and legends, Twinks in Spaaaace, and an Howard Cruse strip. First original Cruse gay story in years! A large number of stories are humorous in tone, but some are far darker, and Fish has given a good flow to the whole book.
Young Bottoms in Love may be over as an online anthology, but thankfully, this excellent book collection is here to stay.

  1. This 368-page anthology is published by Poison Press and is available at Amazon.
    Update August 2012: The print book is out-of-print, but a new publisher has just offered a digital version.

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