Review: Bike Boy Rides Again

Artist(s): Oliver Frey/Zack.

This third book, after Bike Boy and Hot For Boys, of Oliver Frey’s erotic work (or “Zack”, as he signs that work) includes the last strips I already knew from Meatmen or online sources which used to reproduced them badly. It’s a pleasure to see another good-looking archival book from publisher Bruno Gmünder, especially as this goes one step further by adding two all-new stories where Oliver Frey tries a few new things by playing with both his characters and his audience.

Look at those layouts!

The collected stories are in Bike Boy Rides Again1 are Message to the Emperor, Funfair Surprise and Champ’s Party.
At 30 pages, Message to the Emperor is the longest story of the book: Sextus, a young roman and nephew of an influent and perverted senator, is sent by his uncle to the emperor with what appears to be a very important message. On his way there, he’ll first be waylaid (and thoroughly fucked) by his Nubian escort, under orders of his cousin—another scheming minx who thinks he should be the one to have the honor of carrying the message, then he’ll discover that strangers in a male brothel can behave kindly, to finally meet another nice stranger in a handy litter (yes, he does rely a lot on the kindness of strangers). But should he trust his uncle? Or is the message a bearer of sinister news? Let’s forget real-world Roman sexual politics here, and acknowledge that Sextus and his friends and foes have as much resemblance to actual Romans as Kirk Douglas had in Spartacus. But was he hot or what? And so are the adventures of Sextus. Frey seems to have a lot of fun setting his cocks-and-balls story in Ancient Rome, because when I say that this story isn’t realistic, I should add that visually, it’s a real feast. Or more appropriately, an orgy of naked, bronzed bodies and ripped clothes, with a display of Frey’s science of the layouts that I’ve already described—though I never get enough of it. The layouts, I mean. Frey is a master at choosing the right angle and zoom to highlight part of the action or the sensations coursing through his characters as they fuck abandonedly.

And the Oscar for best actor goes to...

Funfair Surprise is a weirder story, seemingly at the crossroads of Freaks and Alice In Wonderland. With less murders or girls and bunnies, and more boys and well-endowed dwarves. Two teen-aged friends find themselves bored at a fair, at least until they meet a group of horny dwarves among the performers, who’ll show them their secret desires. Which happen to be to get skewered by little guys with larger cocks than a Tom of Finland cartoon.
The third reprinted story is Champ’s Party, set in 1948 at a posh hotel in New York. A bell boy is all excited to bring champagne to the suite of a winning boxer, hoping he’ll get an autograph out of it. Of course, he’ll get more than that (and so will his two colleagues, because the more the merrier). If Funfair Surprise was not particularly PC, this one has it all: cute, small-bodied white young guys being fucked by strapping black men…but Frey always has a way of diffusing the situation with humor, as is the case here with the dialog between the second bell boy and his suitors (well, when I say “suitors”…), as you can see opposite. It reminded me of nothing more than a scene out of a fairytale, where each character plays a perfectly scripted role, as predictable as it is enjoyable—maybe something between the big, bad wolf and Red Riding Hood. Each reader will have to decide whom he’d rather be.

Bike Boy and Emo Boy on a bi-i-ike

The titular and all-new story, which opens the book, reintroduces Bike Boy, whom we’d met in the obviously-titled Bike Boy book, as he simultaneously discovered the joys of riding a motorcycle and being ridden by manly men. This time, Oliver Frey has concocted a somewhat more mature tale as Bike Boy questions his impulses when he makes the acquaintance of a just eighteen Emo boy. Attraction is immediate, but Emo is all angsty and Bike has trouble keeping his hands to himself. There’s no shortage of explicit sex, since we’re not in a 19th century girl novel, but talk about delayed gratification…Bike Boy will first have to give of himself when a good Samaritan (well, when I say “good”…) saves them from a fuel shortage, and then to rescue his new friend who’s fallen into the hands of surfers with big boards and a bigger appetite. I might go as far as calling Bike Boy Rides Again something of a bildungsroman for the eponymous character (in 22 pages! Take that, Goethe, Rousseau and Dickens!), a series of tests that help him reach maturity. While having lots of sex.
The last story of the book is a clever little tale entitled In Your Dreams. Erotic stories usually do what they can to help the reader forget he’s reading a story, so that he’ll immerse himself into the sensations of the characters. But this time, Frey does the opposite, by having a voice-over directly addressing the reader during the story: “In your dreams, you would have a deserted locker room… Two young guys alone…” This references both the origin of the story (a simple illustration included in the previous book that Frey was urged to develop) and the process by which such stuff as wanks are made on. It’s a cute conceit, and works very well for a short story.

Once more, Oliver Frey shows with Bike Boy Rides Again that erotic comics can be both hot and intelligent, filthy and sophisticatedly-drawn, serious about the sex and humorous about the situations. Apart from possible new work, I now would like to see a collection of his gay illustrations, a lot of which I’ve seen only in low-quality format over the years—and I trust publisher Bruno Gmünder would do a great job giving us another valuable piece of gay art history to enjoy.

  1. This 96-page book can be bought online, for example at Amazon.

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