Review: Hot for Boys

Artist(s): Oliver Frey/Zack.

I’ve already had the opportunity to write about how much I admire Oliver Frey’s erotic work. So, let me do it all over again with Hot For Boys1, a new collection of the very erotic adventures of Rogue, a man who’s never met a cute guy he didn’t want to fuck.
Written and drawn by Frey in the late 70s, early 80s, Rogue’s stories are very short and to the point: in two or three pages, Rogue meets a young guy, fancies the young guy, fucks the young guy, and leaves the young guy thoroughly satisfied.

Two things distinguish these stories from most erotic art of the period: the lightness of tone, and the quality of the art itself. As stated by Frey in his introduction, these stories are about role-playing, and the characters are often aware of it. They all decide to play along with the rules of the sexual fantasies they embody, and they do it with gay abandon, if you’ll pardon the bad pun. Frey also has fun with the stories themselves, which range from almost realistic bar encounters to frankly absurd romps, such as Rogue’s very James Bond adventure in a space station, complete with a two-dicked Apollonian alien—and a willing boy named Puppy. The 70s feel of the stories is also present in the narration, which has a strong cinematographic feel and wears its influences on its sleeves.
As I said in my review of Frey’s previous collection Bike Boy, Frey was influenced by such great British artists as Frank Bellamy, as can be seen in the numerous double-pagers in this book.

A Bellamy double page for Heros the Spartan

A Bellamy double page for The Thunderbirds

A Frey double page from one of the early Rogue stories

I remember being surprised when I first saw double-page layouts in reprints of British classic comics from the 60s, since that kind of thing didn’t really exist in either French or American comics. In the hands of an artist like Bellamy, they had a punch that was unsurpassed. Though Frey gave them a run for their money with his Rogue double-pagers, as you can see from the example above. It feels more like you’re watching moving images than reading static panels. Of course, the even better thing for us is that while Bellamy could draw good-looking male characters, Frey draws scorching hot boys and men.

A dense seduction scene

In other stories, Frey also shows how well he can layout a single page to great effect, such as the seduction scene I’m showing you. Look at the slight changes in the boy’s face as he notices Rogue watching him. Of course, Frey’s colors are also put to work in these pages, as you can see in the night panels which lead to Rogue and the boy entering Rogue’s flat. I sincerely think that if those stories weren’t full of hot man-on-man sex, they’d be shown in cartooning schools as examples of the potential of comics narration.

Rogue underwater

I can’t resist the pleasure of showing you one last page, which has a more open narration, but with a layout that’s as effective as the previous one, and with a bold color choice: the purple open panel takes the eye right to the bottom of the page, in sync with the characters diving deeper and deeper, while the red panel takes the eye up again, as the characters emerge, toward the final panel, with a final humorous touch (“Esther Williams, eat your heart out”) that’s another proof of Frey not taking himself too seriously.

I could go on like this about almost every page of this book: it’s the kind of art that engages both your analytical mind and your, uh, more emotional side. I’m very glad that publisher Bruno Gmünder has decided to offer 21st century readers a chance to rediscover the beauty, strength and hotness of Oliver Frey’s gay art.
Do take some time to visit Oliver Frey’s two websites: his mainstream one, where you can buy a very good-looking collection of his Terminal Man strips, and the other for his gay art, where he’s announced a second Bike Boy book. That announcement certainly made my day.

  1. This 96-page book can be found at Amazon.

    UPDATE 10/2012: The Terminal Man graphic novel is now available from Amazon.

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