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How to Love and Yirmi Pinkus
Upcoming: J.C. Leyendecker
Prism Comics 2008
Martin & John #1

 

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Entries for August 2008:
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Saturday, August 30, 2008
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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How to Love and Yirmi Pinkus

Category: gay-friendly, slice-of-life.
Author(s): Yirmi Pinkus, Itzik Rennert.
Year of publication: 2007.


How to Love is the latest collection of stories by the Israeli collective Actus Tragicus. The five artists (Rutu Modan, Yirmi Pinkus, Mira Friedmann, Batia Kolton, & Itzik Rennert) have produced a half-dozen collections since the late 90s, some of them thematically arranged (you can find all of those on the Top Shelf site--I recommend all of them). This time, they propose stories around the theme of love in its varied forms. Out of the six stories (there's also one by David Polonsky, an illustrator I didn't know), two are gay themed or gay inclusive.

From Love Love LoveThe first one is Itzik Rennert's Love Love Love, a very funny absurdist tale recounting the life of a man and his numerous loves with both sexes. Done in page pairs of illustration/text, this story takes a view of life and love that's neither romantic not cynical, merely describing with dry humor a man who could be called the poster child of Freud's polymorphous perverse theory (''[...] he simply had to see Matthias undress, now, right now. [...] Shit, he tought. His Latent Period had ended") and the myriad ways his relationships develop, often following rather unexpected paths ("Thomas looked like a Modigliani and didn't love him back. So he made a pass at his sister"). The art is made of collages of various media, the drawings being also done in a dozen styles. It all makes for a very entertaining and surprisingly moving story.

The second one is 8:00 to 10:00 by Yirmi Pinkus. I'd already noticed that in some of his previous stories, there were little things that made me think Pinkus might be gay, but I wasn't sure.
From the Dead Herring storyIn his story for Dead Herring, the 2004 Actus Tragicus anthology, a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown is advised by a possible hack doctor to pay a young guy to come live in his flat, and do nothing but sit there, silently observing the patient. Absolutely nothing happens between them, or more exactly, nothing ordinary. The story seems to be a kind of metaphor for the complexity of relationships, with the recovered man deciding to take his life into his own hands by throwing out the young guy. And it's not even the end...That was seriously weird (in a good way), I thought when I read it.
From the Cargo storyIn 2005, he was included among a group of Israeli artists invited to Germany, with German artists doing the reverse trip. All these artists drew a story about their trip for an anthology titled Cargo (I can only find it here or here), published by Avant Verlag in both German and English. Some panels showed him taking an interest in German men he passed in the streets.

From 8:00 to 10:00And then, all my questions were answered by this new story, a very sweet portrait of a man waking up, taking the time to enjoy the early morning and observe life around him before going to wake up his boyfriend. Because Pinkus is portraying himself. I wouldn't be as happy if I hadn't enjoyed the story as much, of course. But I did. Yimri Pinkus8:00 to 10:00 stands out in this very good collection, because it's the only story showing the everydayness (is that a real word?) of love between two adults, the priceless quality of a quiet life enriched by the presence of the one we love. Pinkus' art is also wonderful. The colors are warm, the depiction of reality, through objects in the flat, plants, human bodies far from the cold, sterile beauty of too realistic art, strikes me as full of wonder for the little nothings that aren't often present in fiction. The fact that it's about a gay couple (or maybe it isn't) enhances my pleasure, to be honest.

You can find this book at Amazon. There are a few examples of Yirmi Pinkus' illustration work on this site (check out the Greek Olympic games illustration), and there's a short strip of his here. As far as I know, Pinkus hasn't published a whole graphic novel, but I hope that he someday will, as his colleague Rutu Modan recently did with her excellent Exit Wounds. I'll undoubtedly tell you about it if he does.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Various news
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Upcoming: J.C. Leyendecker



coverI can't cover here all the gay artists who've ever existed (no, really, I need sleep), but today, thanks to the PostModernBarney blog, I've learned about an upcoming book that made me very happy. Have you heard of J.C. Leyendecker? He was a commercial artist, very famous in his time (first half of the previous century), who drew hundreds of covers for the Saturday Evening Post and was an influence on Norman Rockwell. Leyendecker was also gay, and his lover was the model for the Arrow Collar man, one of the artist's most enduring images. He also portrayed masculinity in a way that's very appealing to this day, and a lot of his art is homoerotic.
So, a large, fat art book dedicated to his work will be published next month and apparently won't sidestep his being gay nor the attractiveness of his work for a gay audience, contrary to what's been done before. I'll certainly write more about it once I buy a copy of the book.
Below are three examples of his work, found on the net. The first will certainly be included in the book, since it will include all of his Post covers, the second is one of his Arrow Collar man images, and the third is one of my favorites pictures, and I hope it will be included.
The book can already be pre-ordered.


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Saturday, August 09, 2008
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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Prism Comics 2008

Category: fantasy, slice-of-life.
Author(s): Various artists.
Year of publication: 2008.


Prism Comics, the association dedicated to supporting LGBT comics, creators and readers, has published its 2008 guide, which you can find on their site. As usual, it's a mix of articles on various subjects (the year in review, focus on various artists, etc.) and short comics, some excerpts from longer works, some complete stories. At 150 pages with two-thirds of comics, it's a hefty slice of queer art, and you're likely to discover some artists you didn't know, since the guide covers indy as well as mainstream works.
Of note are the contributions of Justin Hall, with the origin of his "supertranny" character Glamazonia done in a way that gives the old Charles Atlas ads a good kick in the groin; Dale Lazarov's I love Comic Book Clerks, a cute ode to, well, comic book clerks drawn by 8 different artists; an excerpt from a new sci-fi story by Dave Davenport; Ed Luce's Wuvable Oaf, where a cute bear and his cats explore the net; Making Sally Moan, a short illustrated story by Patty Jeres and Kelly Howlett for Lesbians and people who love them; and four pages of the new Cavalcade of Boys by Tim Fish that's being currently serialized (can't wait for the collection!). There's also an excerpt from Brother to Dragons #1, the gay erotic fantasy I'm writing.
These aren't even half of the entries, so you can imagine how diverse they are.
Buying this guide is a good way of supporting Prism's efforts, and help them to attend various comics events and conventions. A good read, and a good deed. What more could you wish for?


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Friday, August 01, 2008
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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Martin & John #1

Category: gay-friendly, slice-of-life.
Author(s): Hee Jung Park.
Year of publication: 2008.


This recently published manhwa has an interesting core concept: it features a series of short, unrelated stories where the two main characters are always named Martin and John, but in various settings and relationships.
I should say right now that I find rather strange that Tokyopop, the publisher, nowhere mentions Dale Peck's 1993 novel Martin and John, where the two names were also used to tell various stories, with the main one being that of a man having to come to terms with his lover's death. From what I've read on German sites (Park's manhwa has also been published there), it seems Park was inspired by the central idea of the novel, without adapting the book itself. I haven't read it yet, but I definitely will, since I'd liked another of Peck's novel, The Law of Enclosures.

Back to the comic: author Hee Jung Park, a South Korean artist whose work is being really pushed by Tokyopop, offers us three variations in this first, 190-page volume originally published in her country in 2006.
The first one is a strange and poetic tale set in an unspecified future, where a man named John, and Martin, his "dog", talk about human relationships. The "dog" is in fact another man wearing a kind of dog hat, who has sworn total submission, as is the custom of their society. This could be completely pervy, but it's in fact quite touching, and packs a lot in its 8 pages. It also obviously serves as a prologue, not in terms of story, but of mood and approach.
From the second storyThe second story takes up about 80 pages to tell a complex, surprising and at the same time cruel and very moving drama. This time, a young man named John is run over by a speeding car. Martin, another young guy who was in love with John, and Jackie, his wife for whom John had left Martin, both try to make sense of what happened, the way John lived his life, the choices he made. Told with lots of flashbacks, it is very well-written, with information being delivered bit by bit, through the art or the dialogues, and everything falling into place organically. It also feels nicely disjointed, as probably do the characters who hide some interesting secrets, including the dead John. The reader is expertly manipulated, and the relationship between Martin and John is presented very matter-of-factly, which makes this story as different as possible from Japanese yaoi.
The third story, which is the longest and will be finished in the next volume, seems to have no gay content. It's about another young, rather conceited man named John, whose distant father dies, leaving him a five-year-old, motherless half-brother named Martin (as is named a good friend of John) whose existence he was unaware of until then. This variation is a blend of real-life issues (John has to decide what he wants to do with--and for--the kid, and takes a hard look at himself) and farcical asides, with the regular appearance of chibi versions of the characters. Something I must admit I still can't get used to. The story takes a turn toward melodrama (or maybe, even more melodrama) when John learns the truth behind Martin's biological mother, and it seems to me becomes more and more implausible, but still entertaining to read. Though the dead lover variation was also rather unlikely in places, I didn't find that as bothering. I'm sure other readers will feel the opposite.
The three stories are drawn in the same style, with characters slightly androgynous, but not as much as in a number of yaoi manga--more in a fashion models style. In fact, one expects all those characters to work in that industry, giving a certain unreality to the stories, which are nonetheless rooted in human experiences and feelings.

I don't know if the second volume, that should be out in November, will have gay characters, but I'll certainly read it, and not only to find out about that. Hee Young Park's variations on the Martin and John pairings are sufficiently intriguing to make me come back for another helping.
You can find the book at Amazon, and the publisher's site is here.


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