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Fun Home
Politically InQueerect #2
A Nut at the Opera
Past Lies



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Entries for June 2006:
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fun Home

coverHere's my review of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, one of the best queer-themed read of recent years, in my humble opinion.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Review update
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Politically InQueerect #2

Author(s): Dylan Edwards.

coverDylan Edwards has just published a second collection of his Politically InQueerect strips (both collections are available from the author). This time, we get all the new strips, plus a new, long story in which Republican Archie and his lover Todd spend some time with Dierdre, the Lesbian/punk cousin of Todd. As can be expected, Dierdre and Archie don't get along very well...
One might think that the gay Republicans shtick is limited, but Edwards manages to expand his little world by introducing Dierdre and showing sides of Todd and Archie's personality that weren't apparent when they were alone. He also manages to stay true to his characters and make them relatable without softening their polical views. Or maybe it's just that I find dark-haired Todd very, very cute. That said, the art in general works very well and the characters are visually varied, although I'd like to see some more background in the panels.
Let's hope that Dylan Edwards won't make us wait three years before the next PiQ. I'm sure he'll be even more motivated if lots of you buy his comic. And I want to see more of Todd.
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Blog review
If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.

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A Nut at the Opera

Category: gay-friendly, humor, illustration.
Author(s): Maurice Vellekoop.

Maurice Vellekoop's new book in years is very different from Vellevision or The ABC Book. The former was a collection of short stories, some with a strong gay content, and the latter was a gay primer with erotic illustrations (more about both on my other site). A Nut at the Opera is also a collection of illustrations, but its gay aspect is more subtle. Vellekoop has long stated his love of opera, and apparently, he's very knowledgeable about it. The book consists of double pages, with a text presenting a fictional famous opera singer (or sometimes a real opera fictional production) facing a full-page illustration.
I don't know what a reader who's completely uninterested in opera will make of that book. Of course, the art is wonderful, with strong, warm colors and very detailed faces and body language. The texts are very funny, blending real-life references to well-known singers like Joan Sutherland and Leontine Pryce with other-the-top anecdotes about the singers' larger-than-life excesses (apparently, some of those anecdotes are true, I don't dare to ask which ones). Apart from the ages-old love of gay men for opera, this book has another interest for gay readers: its very camp humor, and the numerous gay innuendos--as in the portrait of countertenor Philip Diller (obviously a joke on historical countertenor Alfred Deller), who's said to have been sued for palimony by his "long-time chauffeur".
By the way, I'm not showing inside art because you can see ten pages from the book on the site, with comments by the artist.
I do like the fact that one press quote at the back of the book is unashamedly gay, and more precisely, the one from XTRA, which also has a very good article about the book on its website. I must say that, as usual, publisher Drawn & Quaterly has done a great job, and the production values are very high (96 pages, hardcover, with a dust jacket and illustrations even on the inside covers). I'm so happy to see a new book by Vellekoop, and I hope that someday, someone will publish a collection of his commercial and personal illustrations.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006
Blog review
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Past Lies

Category: gay-friendly.
Author(s): Christina Weir, Nunzio Defilippis, Christopher Mitten.

The recently-published Past Lies graphic novel (see the Amazon page) is an entertaining gay-inclusive detective story which I've really enjoyed reading, and the way the gay characters are embedded in the plot is, in my opinion, the right way to go.
In 1980, Trevor Schalk, a not very nice but very rich man, is killed in his own home. His wife, having an affair with their lawyer, the maid, with whom the victim was having an affair, their young daugther, who understood what was going on, all of these people are there when the murder takes place, but nobody is convinced. Timothy and his lover MichaelFast forward to 2006, when Timothy Gilbraight, a young closeted actor, finds himself beset by weird dreams of having been Schalk in his previous life--both men have the same psychologist, who had been conducting past lives therapy with Schalk. That doesn't go well with his lover Michael.
Enters Amy Devlin, a young woman recently established as a P.I., whom Gilbraight contacts to ask her to find out who killed him, or more precisely, his previous self.
The plot is cleverly played throughout the book, with clues and revelations judiciously spread. But the more engaging aspect is the way the characters are rounded, from Devlin herself, who's neither as honest as she seems nor as incompetent as people think she is, to the members of the Schalk family, who obviously have secrets to hide. Timothy and Michael's relationship is presented matter-of-factly: the first time we see them, they're in bed, Timothy waking up from his nightmare. One could think that the gayness of Timothy is a plot point among others, since the personality of Schalk, a womanizer jerk, seems to take control of the young man more and more as the story advances and the contrast between the two men couldn't be more pronounced. But to the credit of writers Christina Weir and Nunzio Defilippis, Timothy and Michael are treated exactly like any other character, and their relationship suffers from the pressure of the events like any other relationship would suffer.
Timothy meets Amy DevlinArtist Christopher Mitten has a spare, solid style, and he's quite good at expressions and body language. His storytelling is also effective, and it seems to me he never descends to melodramatic gestures. There's no posturing from the characters, in art or in words, and the gayness of the two characters is never shown by anything else than affection between the men (I don't think earrings count anymore...). As for the fantasy elements, the way they are resolved was a great idea.
At 160 pages, Past Lies feels like a good tv pilot, and like a lot of good tv these days, its inclusion of gay characters is one of its qualities.
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