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June 19, 2010: I've launched a new version of this website as a Wordpress blog. This version won't be updated anymore.
If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.
   
 

Blog reviews and site news

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On this page:

A Rivkah interview
Lazarov & Drub in Best Gay Erotica
Hard to Swallow #2
A Steady Beat review
French gay BD (2): Muchacho
Maria's Wedding
The Book of Boy Trouble
Howard Cruse's new strip
Strugglers
Allure
Stanley and the mask of mystery
Stripped
Fan translations of Ebine Yamaji's yuri mangas

 

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Entries for January 2006:
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Sunday, December 24, 2006
Various news
(List all)
A Rivkah interview



If you feel like learning more about Rivkah, the author of the series Steady Beat, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, go to the Publisher's Weekly site to read this good interview. Among other things, Rivkah says that the series will be four volume long, and that Sarai, the young Lesbian, will come out in volume 3. I look foward to reading how that will be portrayed.


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Sunday, December 17, 2006
Various news
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Lazarov & Drub in Best Gay Erotica



A page by DrubDale Lazarov, writer of Sticky, has announced that he and artist Drub are included in the Best Gay Erotica 2007 anthology, which is available from Amazon. Says Lazarov: "Drub's line work and b/w coloring looks both alt-comix cute and hippie-comix filthy, reminiscent of a sort of cross between Ilya and Robert Crumb that is still very much distinctively Drub."
Lazarov's web page is at http://www.comicspace.com/dalelazarov/, while Drub can be found on his website at http://www.drubskin.com.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Review update
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Hard to Swallow #2


Author(s): Justin Hall, Dave Davenport, Steve MacIsaac.


Cover by HallJustin Hall and Dave Davenport are back for a second helping of Hard to Swallow, and this time, they brought Steve MacIsaac with them.
The formula is the same as the first issue's: a blend of fantasy and real-life stories, and it works as well as the first time (you can buy the comic here).
Dave Davenport's fantasy storyDave Davenport gives us a tale of Feral, his werewolf, in a long and oddly arousing story--oddly, because it involves a man using his dead boyfriend's finger as a dildo. And a ghost, a werewolf and that man having it off. So, necrophilia, zoophilia... and love. What a fun mix. Davenport's art style, a combination of cartoony and manly, sweaty bodies, gives us men who look real, even though one is a ghost and another a werewolf. Sexy and unexpectedly tender.
And then, Dave Davenport comes back with a cute two-page blowjob story.
Justin Hall gives us two real-life stories, the first one told by a guy who was working in a porn film, trying to cum... and not managing to. I guess it shows porn work can be hard work too.
His second story demonstrates that there is an Internationale of gay men. Or that US gay men can feel welcome at a leather bar in Barcelona. By the bouncer. Who sucks cock quite well. Who knew?
Hall also tells the second part of his pirate story Tales of the Hard Roger, which is as disturbing as the first one, at least for me. But as with Dave Davenport, it's interesting to see Justin Hall telling such different stories in the same comic, and shows the artistic range he's shooting for. With a less cartoony style than his accomplice's, his stories look more grounded, but no less sexy.
Steve MacIsaac's story is a wordless tale of bear sex and bar cruising, full of energy, with a very strong and dead straight (no pun intended) storytelling that I really enjoy.

Hard to Swallow is definitely not a comic for people who like only twinks. The others will find hot men engaged in equally hot activities, drawn in varied art and varied settings.


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Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Steady Beat review



I've added a review of Steady Beat, Rivkah's manga-influenced story of a teenage girl discovering her older sister is a Lesbian. Please add your comments just below.


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Saturday, November 18, 2006
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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French gay BD (2): Muchacho

Category: coming-out, french, historical.
Author(s): Emmanuel Lepage.
Year of publication: 2004-2006.


First volume coverA couple of years ago, I'd written a long article about French comics and their use of gay themes and characters. At the time, I hadn't read a series called Névé, published between 1991 and 1997. It was written by a well-known scenarist, Dieter, and drawn by Emmanuel Lepage (I've included a panel from that series in the gallery). Showing the life of a character from his infancy to his young adulthood, the five-volume series (available from Amazon France) had surprised its readers by ending with Névé coming to terms with his being gay, nothing about that having been shown in the previous volumes. Rather new (and quite realistic, after all) in French bande dessinée at the time - not that there's been a lot more of that since.
Two years ago, Lepage did it again, this time all by himself. Muchacho tells the story of Gabriel de la Serna, a very young seminarist in 1976 Nicaragua who arrives in a small village to paint a fresco for the local church. Born to a rich family close to the dictatorship then holding the country, Gabriel is a shy young man, repressed and lost in his art, oblivious to the suffering of the people. His nascent friendship with the local priest, who's involved in the leftist Sandinista rebellion, begins to impact on his mind, and he slowly commences a long journey toward political awareness, which is shown in parallel with his closetedness, through his sketches of male bodies glimpsed here and there.

Gabriel Gabriel again

For a straight artist (as far as I know), Lepage can draw really sensual men. Far from the canons of mainstream super-hero comics, his male characters are not built like Greek gods, but look mortal and fallible, which they often are. The whole art of Lepage is sensual: the way he draws the jungle (he made several trips to Nicaragua), clothes and buildings, and of course the human body, is full of life and energy. His painted colors are an integral part of that, and his playing between monochromatic ambiances and more realistic pages is a testament to his skills. And those covers... They seem so simple, but say so much about the evolution of the main character. That, and the second volume cover is among the most sensual I've ever seen.

A page from the second volume A panel with the rebels

The first volume of the story had ended with Gabriel taking up the rebellion cause by hiding weapons which a mysterious and alluring masked stranger had hidden in the church (he was the one calling the young man "Muchacho"). Gabriel had paid the consequences of his act, even though his being the son of an important regime man had spared his life. The second and last volume, published two weeks ago, begins with his fleeing the village, and being picked up by a group of rebels taking an American hostage to their base on the other side of the forest jungle. Gabriel accompanies them, and meets the masked stranger, a handsome, blond foreigner with a heavy past, whom he quickly falls in love with. Over the course of the album, he'll complete his transformation into a man, politically and sexually aware.
In case you were wondering about this, Muchacho is no South American Star Wars, and Gabriel is no gay Luke Skywalker. Even though the Somoza regime was truly evil, the Sandinistas are no angels, and Lepage makes a point of talking about the treatment of gay people by Revolutionary Cuba (they were thrown in camps). There are no heroes in Muchacho, only people trying to fight for what they believe in, and knowing the chances of dying for it.

Gabriel kisses the man he loves

The integration of Gabriel's awakening to sensuality and his political questioning is a key point of this story. The way one mirrors the other is reminiscent of the 70's feminist slogan "The personal is political", and it makes for very good fiction.
It must be noted that the violence depicted is more graphic than the sex, which shows that even an open-minded author bows to the usual society pressures, or maybe that he just didn't question them.
That being said, Lepage offers us a very good ending, bitter-sweet and realistic. At about 160 pages, this long graphic novel would make a fine addition to any good American publisher's catalog. Any taker?
In the meantime, if you want to practice your French, both volumes are available from Amazon France, while you can see far more art from Emmanuel Lepage on this art gallery site.

By the way, if some of you are interested in more reviews of comics in French, please tell me. Otherwise, I'll just do it very rarely and only for what I consider important books.


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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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Maria's Wedding

Category: gay-friendly, slice-of-life.
Author(s): Nunzio De Filippis, Christina Weir, José Garibaldi.
Year of publication: 2003.


Joseph and Matthew's wedding photoMaria's Wedding (still available, among others from Amazon) is a charming little story written by Nunzio De Filippis & Christina Weir, the same people as the recent Past Lies, and drawn by José Garibaldi, an artist with a decidedly cartoony style, who worked there for the first time for Oni Press.

In the (very) large Pirelli family, a new wedding is taking place, and things aren't really going well. Maria is marrying someone her family doesn't approve of, although it's probably creating less of a rift than what happened last year: her cousin Joseph's wedding with his boyfriend Matthew.
Centered on Frankie, Joseph's brother, and his hopes of meeting again Brenna, Maria's maid-of-honor, this family tale with a twist is heart-warming and quietly rebellious.
Family discussionIt is interesting to see that the one everybody considers as a rebel is Frankie, while Joseph seems more interested in a calm life and in not making waves. One of the plot points in the story is whether Joseph and his husband will dance at Maria's wedding, thus possibly arousing the homophobic members of the family.
While not the center of the story, Joseph and Matthew are an integral part of the family and are treated as such by their enlightened kin.

Garibaldi's art is quite effective, without any big effect, and it gives us varied faces and expressions, which is rather important in a story more about internal than external strife, and solid storytelling. The only less-than-convincing aspect is his handling of hands, but everyone knows hands are really hard to draw.

This, again, is what I'm expecting of a good, gay-inclusive comic: equal, and not separate, treatment of the gay characters. And that's certainly what De Filippis and Weir offer to their readers, in this story where the characters try to balance their attachment to their family and their personal hopes for happiness. A situation shared by many gay people, after all.


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Saturday, November 04, 2006
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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The Book of Boy Trouble

Category: autobiography, humor, slice-of-life.
Author(s): Robert Kirby, David Kelly, Michael Fahy, Craig Bostick, Tony Arena, Jaime Cortez, Justin Hall, Andy Hartzell, Brett Hopkins, Sina, Steve MacIsaac.
Year of publication: 1994-2006.


Would you be interested in a collection of gay-themed zines by a variety of talented cartoonists?
Because that's essentially what The Book of Boy Trouble is. Editors Robert Kirby and David Kelly took parts of the first four issues of their Boy Trouble zine (the fifth, already in book form, is still available from Kelly) and added lots of new stories (including 24 pages in color) to make a 130-page book just published by Green Candy Press (also available from Amazon).

One of Robert Kirby's contributions A Russ Turk page Michael Fahy likes hairy butts Panels by David Kelly

As I've already written in my review of those first four issues, the stories essentially concentrate on teenagers or guys in their twenties, and range from real-life issues to cute meditations on love and attraction. There's the occasional flight of fancy, as with the very funny Andy Hartzell story of a guy tricking with a pint-sized angel, and some stories are decidedly less light, like Jaime Cortez's musings on power dynamics while watching an older white guy with a younger Latino in a gay bar.
Among the all-new stories are the Justin Hall's travel story, as he recalls meeting a young Indian man while crossing the Peruvian Amazon. Hall is his usual intelligent self, managing to transform what could have been a simple sexual encounter into a reflexion on personal gay expression in non-Western settings. And he draws really attractive but realistic guys.
Not surprisingly, David Kelly tells the cutest stories in the book, with his pared-down style and the sunny smiles of his characters. There's also a feel-good story by Brett Hopkins, drawn in the most realistic style in the book (most other artists tend toward a more cartoony style), which looks like the beginning of a longer story.
I was about to say I'd like to see more of Hopkins's work, but then, I'd like to see more work by all those artists. Let's hope Kirby and Kelly will someday give us a sixth issue of Boy Trouble. In the meantime, why won't you get yourself a copy of this collection?


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Sunday, October 29, 2006
Various news
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Howard Cruse's new strip


Author(s): Howard Cruse.


Howard Cruse has announced on his blog that he's launched a new strip, a very different endeavor from his previous works. Mark the Art Guy is a commercial strip for the Creative Suite 2 software from Adobe Systems, but there's the Cruse humor and the Cruse art to stop it from being a simple running ad. The art is as good as anything I've seen from Cruse, and the humor is gentle without being stupid. Definitely worth your time.
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Sunday, October 15, 2006
Review update
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Strugglers


Author(s): Tim Fish.


coverStrugglers is the revised and enlarged new version of Tim Fish's Meet Me in Saint Louie, his 2001 shortish graphic novel.
A kind of prequel to Cavalcade of Boys (also recently republished as one 550-page book), it follows Tighe, one of the main characters from CoB, as he, well, struggles with his being gay while entering college and sharing a flat with Tracey and Alison, two young women.
With now more than 100 pages (instead of 56 in the first version), Fish takes the time to develop each character, including Mike, another young gay guy who lives in the same building as Tighe, but who's already out of the closet. The new chapters are drawn in Fish's current style, which is rounder than his older style, but it seems to me the differences in style suit quite well a story which is about young adults wondering about what their life will be, and what they want it to be.
Apart from those welcome additions, this edition boasts a very good printing quality, with thick, white paper and an afterword by the author where he details what happened to his characters afterwards, as well as the winding road that lead to the current version, from what began as a personal journal but quickly morphed into fiction.
CoB's new version is also printed on good, white paper, and includes notes and miscellaneous art by the author. I'm very happy to see Tim Fish's moving and funny real-life drama collected in two books which, in my opinion, should be on every gay reader's shelf. Go to Fish's site for details about where you can buy those books.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006
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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Allure

Category: illustration.
Author(s): Robert Richards.
Year of publication: 2006.


The latest illustration book from publisher Bruno Gmünder  (available from Amazon and other booksellers) is a collection from US artist Robert W. Richards, whose realistic but varied style gives us pictures ranging from porn star portraits to elegant decadence among the handsome and muscled.

Among those almost 100 drawings are a number of scenes which look like they're stills from gay porn films. Maybe they are. I don't know the porn stars well enough to recognize them. They're very realistically drawn (but don't look like photographs, either), with warm skin colors which enhance the atmosphere of the pieces. That being said, I must admit they're not my favorites.

a porn scene a wonderfully atmospheric scene male with a softer edge

I have a soft spot for the portraits or scenes done in a rougher style, and the ones where there's a slight but interesting blurring of masculine and feminine codes in the drawings, with a use of colors judiciously placed.
I think it's a pity that this book doesn't show us more of those more atmospheric pieces, but I might be in the minority here. What's sure is that Allure is another good book showcasing a talented gay artist, and we certainly need more of that.
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Added, 10/29: Publisher Bruno Gmünder now has a semi-official blog at http://www.queer-art.blogspot.com/, with information about the books and excerpts.


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Sunday, October 08, 2006
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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Stanley and the mask of mystery

Category: humor.
Author(s): David Shenton.
Year of publication: 1983.


Coincidences are fun: I just reviewed the Stripped anthology, and it includes a strip by David Shenton, whose work was unknown to me until a few weeks ago.
Stanley in his bathroomStanley and the mask of mystery is Shenton's first graphic novel, published in 1983 by the now-defunct British Gay Men's Press. As you can imagine, it has been out-of-print for a long time, which is a real shame. Stanley is a gay man who lives in the UK and who can definitely be called a clone: he's got the muscles, the moustache, and the checkered shirt that goes with it. One day, waking up, he finds a leather mask and boots in his bed... and has no idea how they arrived there. What follows is an unpredictable romp through Stanley's days, as the author puts everything but the kitchen sink in the 56 large-sized pages of this book: we've got games, puzzles, aerobic lessons, personal ads from a gay magazine, excerpt from a children's book (ok, not the usual kind...) and lots of other wild ideas presented with a packed storytelling which creates an extremely dense reading experience (think 80's Howard Chaykin, if that means anything to you).
David Shenton's art style is as whimsical as his ideas. It seems he can draw everything, and enjoys doing so. The humor is gentle but politically relevant: a page showing public lavatories filled with guys wearing false noses and moustaches has two bobbies spying each other in the stalls as they're trying to play spot-the-queers, for example. The main character's search for the origin of the mask will lead him to an unexpected place, and reminds me of the first strip in the Howard Cruse's Wendel strips, another funny coincidence.
coverThe author has done three other graphic novels, two of which are collection of strips, with the third being a complete adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play Salomé, a 1986 full-color effort published by Quartet Books, which is worth searching for, since it's visually brilliant--and it includes an openly gay subplot implicit in Wilde's writing.
Lastly, David Shenton is currently writing and drawing a very funny and weird online gay-themed strip, Get Her!, which he intends to collect in print when it's finished.
All of these works, which are only a small part of Shenton's production over the years (as can be seen on his website), show a sensibility which seems to me to be far from the current main gay representations, and is all the more precious for it.


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Saturday, October 07, 2006
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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Stripped

Category: erotica, illustration.
Author(s): Tom Bouden, Michael Breyette, Dave Davenport, Justin Hall, Ian Hanks, Glen Hanson, Ralf König, Logan, Steve Maclsaac, Joe Phillips, Brad Rader, David Shenton.
Year of publication: 2006.


With the Stripped anthology (available from any bookseller, including Amazon), publisher Bruno Gmünder has assembled an excellent collection of illustrations and short strips by gay artists from the USA, Europe, Japan, etc. Here's the complete list of contributors:
Aru, Axel, Beau, Tom Bouden, Michael Breyette, Michael Broderick, David Cantero, René Capone, Angel de Castro, Marc Ming Chan, Dave Davenport, Marc DeBauch, Patrick Fillion, Franze & Andärle, Ted Fusby, Andrew Georgiou, E. Gibbons, Xavier Gicquel, Justin Hall, Craig Hamilton, Ian Hanks, Glen Hanson (who also drew the cover), James Huctwith, Tom Jones, JJ Kirby, Roy Klang, Ralf König, Kumoki, Logan, Roland Maas, Steve Maclsaac, Martin Meyer, Jörg Meyer-Bothling, Mioki, Allan Neuwirth, P239COM, Ralf Paschke, Joe Phillips, Sean Platter, Player, Brad Rader, Miguel Angel Reyes, Robert W. Richards, SATT, Christian Schilling, Kinu Sekigushi, Sepp of Vienna, David Shenton, Hector Silva, Douglas Simonson, Ira C Smith, S T Monkey, Gengoroh Tagame, Steve Walker & Ross Watson.
I don't even know all of them!

Michael Breyette Ian Hanks Logan Mioki David Shenton

As you can imagine, the variety of styles and ambiances is impressive. From Michael Breyette's almost photo-realistic style to Ian Hanks's rounder and very sensual work, from Logan's hairy bears to Mioki's college twinks, there's something for everyone. Themes run from graphic sex to tender scenes, from real- life to fantasy and science-fiction. I must admit I would have liked to see more comics than there is, but that's only my personal tastes--but still, we get comics by Justin Hall, Ralf König or David Shenton, among almost a dozen cartoonists included here. And anyway, a large part of the illustrations themselves have storytelling aspects and are not only exposition scenes, which is not surprising since most of them are at least erotic, which lends itself to pictures telling a story.
Those 350 pages are certainly a good primer of what's being done nowadays by gay artists, or at least by some of them--the contact and website references at the end of the book are also a very nice idea. I only hope the publisher will give us more comics/illustrations books in the near future and won't content itself with teasing us with the breadth of art presented here.
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Added, 10/29: Publisher Bruno Gmünder now has a semi-official blog at http://www.queer-art.blogspot.com/, with information about the books and excerpts.


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Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Various news
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Fan translations of Ebine Yamaji's yuri mangas


Author(s): Ebine Yamaji.


coverI don't usually link to scanned comics, but this is a special case: Ebine Yamaji, a female manga author, is completely unknown in the USA, while a number of her books have been translated in French (that's how I know them, obviously). Thanks to Dirk Deppey's ˇJournalista! blog, I've learned that a site dedicated to presenting yuri authors has scanned and translated two of her books, Indigo Blue and Free Soul.
While I have some reservations about most of the yaoi I've read (knowing I'm not the target of that genre), I absolutely love Ebine Yamaji's work: it's clearly not a fantasy for straight men (yaoi is a fantasy for straight women), and her lesbian characters feel real--there's also a strong feeling of the story not being done by a straight author. I also like her spare but emotional line and storytelling. So, go here fo the first book, and there for the second one.
Then, try to convince a publisher to do a proper English edition of Ebine Yamaji's work.
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Update 10/04: Here's the link to Love my Life, another book by Ebine Yamaji.


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