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Porky #2
Frater Mine #5
Shirtlifter #2



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Entries for November 2007:
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Sunday, November 25, 2007
Review update
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Porky #2

Author(s): Logan.

coverPublished a few months ago by Class Comics, here is the English version of French artist Logan's second issue of his Porky comic. In this issue, we learn that Santa Claus is not a bum, Ben might have a destiny beyond getting fucked by various well-endowed men, and a supernatural threat is on its way...
Logan definitely ups the ante this time, giving us glimpses of a far larger background to his story, and introducing new characters, including what seems to be aging super-heroes who fear for their lives. That being said, his new comic is as raunchy as the previous issue, with lots of graphic sex and his trademark cocks, which are as large as my thighs. The characters themselves also behave in a complex way, between realistic psychology and Tom-of-Finland-like lack of sexual restraint. That makes for a weird and compelling reading. I'd almost say, don't open those pages if you go only for smooth and thin twinks, but then, you'd miss a fun romp amidst Logan's pervy fantasies. That would be a real shame.
You can buy this comic on the publisher's site (there are also sample pages).

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Saturday, November 24, 2007
Review update
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Frater Mine #5

Author(s): Sean McGrath, Juan Romera.

coverSean McGrath and Juan Romera are back for the fifth issue of Frater Mine, a fantasy series where magic is real but presented in a down-to-earth manner, which includes a gay character among the main protagonists. A nice headshot of MattMatt, the high school teacher, has used his magical powers to scare off a student who was attacking a colleague, and now has to face the consequences of his outburst: the institution doesn't take kindly to teachers roughing up students, even when they have some reason to.
As in the previous issue, Matt being gay is never the point of him, but is mentioned casually and believably. That being said, the writer told me Matt would get a love interest in upcoming issues, so we'll get to see Matt "being" gay. What is shown in this issue is that he's not a very nice human being: he uses his powers to make life easier for himself, often in little ways (which, of course, is far more realistic than donning a skin-tight costume to battle bad guys), and spends time completely ignoring the problems of his family or friends.
Matt being a bastardWhat could become a study in bastardness (if that was a word) is in fact a moving portrait of a man lost in his contradictions and stuck in a life he doesn't particularly enjoy, thanks to McGrath's never melodramatic writing. Juan Romera is in fine form, sculpting his characters' faces and building a lot of atmosphere through a solid use of white and black space, with a style which now reminds me of good, evocative artists like Duncan Fegredo, Eduardo Risso or Dean Ormston.
This issue seems to be a prologue to the new story arc, with the mysterious disappearance of children around Matt and his friends. I'm eagerly waiting to see what McGrath and Romera have in store for their characters, but I have a feeling it won't be pretty.
This comic, as the previous ones, can be bought from IndyPlanet.

Writer Sean McGrath has also teamed with artist Fernando Melek for a short comic titled Generic Goddess #1, where a woman with a mystical alter ego gets a call from an old friend, a call which will likely lead to trouble. McGrath proves (if need be) that he's really gay, by writing a story whose protagonist, while unnamed, seems to be somewhere between Wonder Woman and Promethea, or maybe even closer to a certain Egyptian goddess who was a popular fiction star some time ago... Melek has a wonderful, realistic style that's well suited to this quiet prologue. While there's nothing gay in this story, I don't see a straight guy writing it this way. But maybe I'm completely wrong.
You can also find this comic at IndyPlanet, with sample pages.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007
Blog review
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Shirtlifter #2

Category: slice-of-life.
Author(s): Steve MacIsaac.
Year of publication: 2007.

The second issue of Steve MacIsaac's Shirtlifter is a 56-page collection of ten short stories, from 2 to 12 pages. Those stories are unconnected, but seem thematically linked, if only because reading them one after another creates an effect that was obviously non-existent when I read them in the various anthologies most were first published (the author has reworked most of them for the present collection).
A lot of those stories deal with closet/visibility issues, from self-awareness to public behavior, including openess toward one's family. For example, in the first story titled "Waiting for the Bus", the character faces a choice between following a stranger for sex at a bus stop and getting on with his life, and thus, between acknowledging his attraction to men and living a life of lies, toward himself and toward others. With a double vertical narration showing moments between the two possible lives and a voice-over commenting mercilessly on the character's behavior, MacIsaac gives us an uncompromising look at what drives men to stay in the closet even in a somewhat open society, and the consequences of that damaging choice.
The narration and storytelling of those stories is often an important part of their effect on the reader, as for example in the short piece "You can tell us anything", which juxtaposes the written reactions of parents to having a gay son ("How come you never bring your friends around?", "Don't you want to have a family?") with scenes of an untroubled gay life of sex and coupledom. It's clever, but more importantly, it's poignant.
There are also a few stories dealing with anonymous sex, and the related issue of protection, psychologically and physically speaking. The slight feeling of detachment which is pervasive in most of MacIsaac's stories help them avoid the pitfalls of melodrama and brings a certain intellectualism that I find very appealing.

Cruising the netFrom the last story

The last three stories are the ones where the layers of fiction are peeled away, to reveal some aspects of the real man behind the masks (the covers gives a hint of this: the main cover shows various characters, while the back cover shows faces of MacIsaac in the same positions). MacIsaac (or a fictional version of him) takes centerstage, and shows us that he can put a lot of humor in his work, which is not something that was especially obvious until then. "In Plain Sight" is a variation of the now-common observation that gay men and superheroes have a lot in common, with their double lives and their "hiding" their true self. "Border Crossings" is an ambitious piece of storytelling, with a multiple narration where color is used to differentiate between the four strands of a story not told in chronological order: MacIsaac, who's Canadian and lived then in Japan, is trying to obtain a visa for the USA, which is no small feat. That, and he has to deal with his seeming reluctance to commit too much to a relationship with a man in Los Angeles. The title obviously has multiple meanings...
The last story, "You Do The Math", looks like it is the most personal story, with MacIsaac talking about his unwillingnes to be too upfront about being gay, in public and in his job as a teacher in college. He even portrays himself as feeling proud of "acting straight", only to mock himself for that. It's not easy to put one's shortcomings in the full view of an audience, and it seems to me that MacIsaac does that without using the easy way of either excusing or demeaning himself, contrary to what a lot of autofiction writers have done.
With his solid drawing style gaining a measure of roundness in some stories (which might make it lose part of that detachment I was writing about, but probably enhances the implication of the reader) and his willingness to use thoughtful storytelling, Steve MacIsaac proves with this second issue of Shirtlifter that he's an author to watch.
This comic can be bought on the artist's site or at Amazon.

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