For years, the only way one could read Oliver Frey’s erotic stories was in badly reproduced images from the net. So, I’m very glad that German publisher Bruno Gmünder has decided to collect in one book some of the strips done by the artist.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Frey, I recommend reading two interviews, the first one done less than a year ago, and the second one, by comics connoisseur (and very nice gay guy) Paul Gravett, only a couple of weeks old. I’ll just say here that Oliver Frey is a Swiss-born artist living in England, who’s been influenced by classic British artists such as Frank Bellamy and Frank Hampson (Dan Dare), and who, during the 70s and the 80s, produced a very large body of gay erotic art, illustrations as well as strips, in black & white and in color, all the while enjoying a mainstream career as an illustrator and a comics artist (he created art for the 1978 Superman film, for example). The dual nature of his career is reflected in the existence of two websites run by Frey and his partner, one for the mainstream art1 and one for the gay stuff.
Four years ago was published The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey, a book focused on Frey’s mainstream career—I highly recommend it, it’s both informative and chock-full of great fantasy art. It’s still the only one of its kind, but now we also have a book concerned with Frey’s gay art. Bike Boy2 collects four stories originally drawn for Meatmen3 in the second half of the 90s, under the pen-name of Zack.
In Bike Boy, probably the most famous of Frey’s stories, a young man feels all grown-up with his brand-new motorcycle. But he’ll discover more than the open roads on his first day out.
Tender Bait sees a young sailor, on shore leave somewhere in South East Asia, who doesn’t stop complaining about the absence of girls, and ends up trying to get some sleep in a guest house while his mate enjoys the company of a local male youth. The story will show that the sailor doth protest too much.
Slaves to Lust is the most SM of the four stories, with a young mechanic who hustles—but only as a top, of course. He’ll be shown the point of view of the other role during a memorable night of bondage and possible love.
The last story is Teasy Meat, a cleverly-built story where the voice over from the main character, a mature man chasing young guys, is complemented by the subjective camera-style of the layouts, meaning that the reader only discovers the face of that character halfway through the story.
As you can see from the excerpts above, Frey’s line art is very detailed, his strong and dynamic layouts perfectly showcasing the physique of his characters. If straight guys have the Vargas Girl to enjoy, we can certainly lay claim to the Frey Boy, young guys with lightly-muscled, supple bodies which seem to be made for pleasure. Frey’s reality-enhancing colors add a lot of atmosphere (though I also love his b&w illustration work, worthy of the XIXth-century illustrators, but that’s not the point here) to the strips, especially on the various skin tones he uses. There’s a level of craft displayed here that raises those stories far above the level of mere (admittedly very hot) wank work.
As usual, the publisher offers very good production values on this book, with thick, matte paper and an obvious care brought to the design, illustrations filling even the end-papers. In one of the interviews I’ve linked to, Oliver Frey says that, if the sales of this book are good enough, he has enough material to fill another collection. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that to happen, as well as for a collection of his illustration work, both in color and in black & white, which deserves to be seen again.
- Where you can pre-order a self-published reprint of The Terminal Man, a sci-fi strip that looks very good. ↩
- This 96-page paperback was published this month, and can be found at Amazon. ↩
- Meatmen was an anthology of gay strips, ranging from humor to erotic, published by Leyland Publications from 1986 to 2004. There were 26 volumes—all in black and white, so this is the first time the Frey strips are published in color as intended. ↩