Review: Gaylord Phoenix

Artist(s): Edie Fake.

Nowadays, most queer comics I read can be said to fall into three categories: real-life stories—autobiographical or not, superheroes and erotic/porn. But then, it could be argued that most comics fall in these categories (yes, I know, that’s reductive). My point is that when I come across something that explodes those categories, I’m instantly hooked. And when the said something manages to be both extremely weird and completely relatable, I remain hooked. Such is the effect that Edie Fake‘s Gaylord Phoenix1 has had on me.

The book begins with the eponymous character, a masculine, features-less creature, who’s wounded by a crystal creature. He calls for help by growing a tubular nose–and also grows a tubular cock. And then it gets really weird: he meets a young man, they make love, but the crystal wound transforms Gaylord Phoenix into a monster who seemingly kills his lover. But it’s only the beginning: both Gaylord and the young man will know various adventures in strange lands that will lead them to know themselves a little better. And it all makes sense.

Gaylord Phoenix and his lover

Magical imagery

The baroque side of Edie Fake

There’s something primordial in Edie Fake’s art, a combination of cave-paintings, almost shamanistic symbols and complex imagery, full of intricate drawings. Associated with the lack of features of his main character and the minimal text and dialogue, this creates a dreamlike, timeless ambiance to the story that borders on the mythological.
This 256-page book was created over a number of years, and it shows. As we advance, the art gets more and more sophisticated, and patterns straight out of the textile arts and crafts enrich the visual experience of the reader. It’s almost overwhelming, as a slightly too warm sea can be. But also just as pleasurable.

What made the author’s powerful imagery so enjoyable for me was the way he writes the conflicts, inner and otherwise, that his characters have to face: the two main characters have clearly recognizable human feelings and needs, and that anchors a book that could have easily become a vanity project designed to showcase the artist’s skills. But Gaylord Phoenix is so much more: both strongly narrative and full of visual fireworks, it is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

  1. This book was published late last year by Secret Acres, and you can also find it at Amazon

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