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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:

Gus and Waldo
Frater Mine #6-7
Subscribe to the GCL
So Super Duper #6
Shirtlifter #3
J.C. Leyendecker
Incubus #3
Micki: Prisoners of Passion now in book form
Angelface #1 and Tug Harder #1
Maurice Vellekoop's Pin-Ups
Inland
Micki: Prisoners of Passion

 

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Entries for January 2008:
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Saturday, December 27, 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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Gus and Waldo

Category: humor.
Author(s): Massimo Fenati.
Year of publication: 2006-.


This is completely loopy. In fact, it is more than a little silly, as well as very funny and completely romantic.
Gus & Waldo is a series of small-sized books telling the story of two (male) penguins in love, by Italian author Massimo Fenati. Three books have already been published by Orion Books UK: Gus & Waldo's Book of Love (2006), Gus & Waldo's Book of Fame (2007) and Gus & Waldo's Book of Sex (2008).
from the first bookIn the Book of Love, two lonely penguins spend their days unable to enjoy themselves, until they meet each other and, of course, instantly fall madly, deeply in love. But even the path to true love has its bumps...

second coverfrom the second book

The second story sees Gus and Waldo attain world-wide fame, with the attendant wealth and ego-boost. But fame has a price, and privacy is its first victim...

third coverfrom the third book

Finally, in the Book of Sex, Gus and Waldo's varied sex life eventually hits a snag, and they'll have to search high and low for the remedy to their plight.

Each of those three 96-page books is structured the same way: the two lovers finds themselves facing a distinct problem, but of course, things end up even better than they started. Massimo Fenati uses a lot of the characteristics of children's books, in tone as well as in presentation, for what could be called a fairytale for adults.
His art is simple and clean, and the pages are often filled with little details, such as parodies of well-known brands or titles, all dressed in bright colors. And there's one sentence per page, for one full-page illustration, another characteristic of children's books. The publisher has also done a good job: those almost square little hardcovers (around 5.5 in) are printed on thick paper, with a sturdy spine that enables the reader to open them flat.
Humor also plays a big part in the charming atmosphere of the books, as you can see from the excerpts above.

You can see more pages from the books at the author's site, and you can find the books at Amazon, although they're imported, and I haven't seen the latest one there yet (it's at Amazon UK, though).


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Review update
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Frater Mine #6-7


Author(s): Sean McGrath, Juan Romera.


6th issue CoverThe seventh and latest issue of Frater Mine has recently been published, so I thought I'd tell you about it (and the previous issue, which I'd missed).
In this series set in the real world but where magic exists (although not a Doctor Strange magic), we follow Matt, a gay teacher and also a practitioner of magic, who finds himself tangled up in the very weird disappearance of kids around him and his friends, including his own nephew, right when he was visiting his family.
Over the sixth issue, things go from bad to worse, as Matt becomes a suspect for the police, and one member in his family reacts in a strongly homophobic way. While the magical side is developed, writer Sean McGrath also takes his time to flesh out the relationships between the characters, especially between Matt and his brothers (one being the father of the lost kid).
7th issue coverIn the seventh issue, Matt and one of his brothers are on the run, with a group of mysterious people shadowing them. Are they friends or foe? Only McGrath knows, and I can't wait to see what happens next. It seems that the story is even bigger than a few cases of magically-disappeared kids, and that's good news for the readers, as the writer and artist manage to increase the tension page by page.
From the 7th issue, Matt goes all magickyWith Scott McGrath's wonderful collage covers and Juan Romera's always moody art complementing Sean McGrath's realistic writing and dialogues, Frater Mine remains for me a very good example of the quality that can be achieved by small press artists and publishers. It isn't published monthly, but I'd like all the monthly comics I've read to be as gripping and memorable.
These comics, as the previous ones, can be bought from IndyPlanet here and here.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Various news
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Subscribe to the GCL



I wanted to write a few words to point out a new feature on the site: you can now subscribe by email to receive a message every time I add an article on the site. Go there (the link is also in the menu above), it's very easy, and managed by FeedBurner.com, which uses the RSS feed from the site. I hope some of you will find it useful.


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Sunday, December 07, 2008
Review update
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So Super Duper #6


Author(s): Brian Andersen, Tony Smith, Jon Macy.


coverThe sixth issue of Brian Andersen's So Super Duper continues to reveal secrets of Captain Idol's past, while putting spokes in the wheel of Psyche and Comet's hardly budding romance. Psyche is still torn between having acknowledged to himself that he's gay and denying it to everybody else at the slightest opportunity. Which doesn't make it easy for Comet to ask him on a date...The drama also keeps up with the funeral of the dead team-mate, where Psyche is accused of being the cause of the death. Tears ensue. Comet must be getting blue balls by now (which would suit his violet costume).
We also get a fun back-up by Tony Smith and Jon Macy, where Psyche and his girl friend Skip are having a nice picnic, only to be attacked by a homophobic crossing between Wonder Woman and Captain Nazi (also sporting a Soviet-like sickle, which I guess shows she's really confused). It feels weird to see the characters drawn in a slightly more realistic style, but it works well.
You can buy this comic from the Indy Planet site or Prism Comics, and the author's site is here (with previews of the issues).


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Saturday, December 06, 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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Shirtlifter #3

Category: slice-of-life.
Author(s): Steve MacIsaac, Fuzzbelly, Justin Hall.
Year of publication: 2008.


With this third issue of Shirtlifter, author Steve MacIsaac shakes things up a bit: not only does this issue include the first part of a long work (when the previous issues were collections of short stories), but it also presents shorter works by two other artists.
The first three chapters of Unpacked are included in this issue. First published online and now reworked for print publication, this story follows the days and nights of Matt, a newly single guy whose boyfriend left him a few months ago, after eight years together. Matt is a large, built, hairy man (like a lot of MacIsaac's characters) who favors the same in other men. Preferably in unattached, sex-oriented men, since Matt definitely doesn't want to launch into another relationship. MacIsaac creates fully rounded characters, especially with Matt and Conner, a guy he hooks up with, who turns out to be married to a woman, and only looking for no-strings sex with men. Matt and ConnerOver the course of the 60 pages of this story, which will be continued in the next two issues, the reader is treated to the non-manichean portrait of conflicting opinions: Matt is accused by his coupled friends of self-internalised homophobia for having sex with a (mostly) straight man, Conner claims that two men can't love each other--but enjoys having sex with Matt, while Matt tries to find a middle road between his own values, his rejection of any possibility of a relationship, and his sexual attraction toward Conner. What's interesting is that MacIsaac doesn't preach any gospel, but lets each character speaks his mind, and lets the reader form an opinion. The end of this part of the story leaves the characters in a very interesting place, and I'm really curious to know where they'll go from there.
From Fuzzbelly's storyThe first guest artist is newcomer Fuzzbelly (see his blog for cute bear images), a bear guy who does a little meta-story about his trying to do a story for the comic, while musing on the lack of realism in gay porn portrayal of blue collar men (big surprise, there). He has a good, loose cartoony style that brings a lot of warmth to his self-portrayal, as well as as an engaging sense of humor.
From Justin Hall's storyThe second guest is Justin Hall, whose comics I've often reviewed here. There's an old tradition in literature magazines of presenting excerpts from works in progress, and that's exactly what Hall is doing here: The Liar is a long narrative from which we get twenty pages, with an apparently care-free young man hitching a ride, having sex with the driver...but this isn't some cheap, erotic scenario. The young man is shown telling two different versions of his life to two men, for no apparent reasons. This excerpt is very intriguing, and I hope we'll soon see more of this.
This new issue of Shirtlifter is the thickest one yet, with its 88 pages. The production values (thick, glossy paper, a spine) make it look more like a highbrow magazine than a little zine, and yet it retains its strength, its pertinence, and its very personal point of view.
You can buy it from the author or from Amazon, and here's a preview of MacIsaac's story.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008
Blog review
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J.C. Leyendecker

Category: illustration.
Author(s): J.C. Leyendecker.
Year of publication: 2008.


I don't know how long I've been waiting for a book dedicated to J.C. Leyendecker's life and work, or more exactly, one that doesn't hide the artist's gayness and gay appeal. More than a decade, that's for sure.
Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951) was one of the most famous and important commercial illustrators in the USA during the first half of the XXth century. Nowadays, someone like Norman Rockwell, who admired him (and was rather inspired by him at first), is far more famous. In fact, I first heard of Leyendecker through Steve Rude, a comic book artist, whose painted covers were sometimes influenced by Leyendecker. And then, I learned Leyendecker was gay, although completely in the closet for the public during his life. In gay art history books, he was cited as having used his lover, Charles Beach, as a model for his most famous creation, the Arrow Collar Man.
The Arrow Collar Man himselfThis new, 256-page art book, written by Judy and Laurence Cutler, tries to offer a contextualised view of Leyendecker's long and fruitful career in the commercial art world. It opens with a short history of American illustration up to Leyendecker's appearance, and then gives us a biographical sketch, which uses what little is known about the artist's life--his private papers were destroyed by his partner when he died, at his request (that was during McCarthyism, a period not known for its openess toward gay people). Leyendecker, whose star was rising, met Beach in 1903, when the very handsome (and 17-year old) Beach was looking for modelling jobs. He found one, and more, since the two men spent the rest of their lives together, with Beach surviving his partner by only a short time.
who's looking at whom?The writers of the book seem to me to have a balanced view of the relationship, and aren't trying to present it as a model of gay love (if there is such a thing), while stating that it had been long known by gay fans that Leyendecker and Beach had had a long relationship. In fact, they do their best to acknowledge the importance of a gay following for Leyendecker's posthumous fame, as well as the strong homoeroticism of a number of his works, for example with the group paintings showing multiple and ambiguous looking lines between the characters. I only regret that there wasn't room to include more of his drawings and paintings of half-naked athletes, although there are a lot in this book (among about 600 reproductions, from nine a page to double-page spreads).
I know I'll be leafing through this book again and again. There are so many beautiful works that need to be stared at that this isn't a book that should shelved any time soon.

and one last for the road...If you want to know more about the artist, there are a number of biographical pieces on the web. Here are a few: Wikipedia and Bud Plant, as well as this one (the most detailed one) and glbtq.com for a more gay point of view. There are numerous galleries, like this one or this one, and for a lot of male art, look here and here. The book is available from Amazon.


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Saturday, November 29, 2008
Review update
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Incubus #3


Author(s): Yayoi Neko.


coverThe third volume of this story of love against impossible odds fleshes out some of the secondary characters from the previous volumes, and introduces new ones. Writer and artist Yayoi Neko has a knack for extended scenes exploring every facet of a character's psyche, and her talent is put to good use in this volume.
Kent, the demon who attacked Judas and Lenniel back in volume 1 to try and restore the health of Alexi, his injured young lover, is losing hope of ever succeeding in getting his lover back. Alexi is in fact lost in an internal landscape where he meets the creature responsible for his current catatonic state. Azazel, a kind of former angel, has a very good reason (and it's not love, this time) for trying to kill the young man, who couldn't hope to survive an encounter with the formidable demon...if it wasn't for Lenniel, who's decided to protect him where Kent can't. And so, three demons of various ranks are gathered around Alexi, a mere human with a startling secret. Kent and Alexi
The three demons and the three humans attached to them (Azazel has his own lover, a young man who isn't much more morally admirable than his immortal boyfriend), compose a fascinating array of relationships between two beings. The author obviously want to have the opportunity to talk about love, and the many shapes it can take, from the most equal to the most abusive.
Over the 300 pages of this volume, the reader is taken on a wild ride, with scenes of loving, fighting and introspection. From Heaven before the Fall to the modern days, with some strong illustrative pages which would have deserved to be printed in a larger format to be fully enjoyed. Or maybe I'm just getting old.
Azazel...preeeetty, but deadlyThe author also seems to be having fun with yaoi conventions: Kent and Alexi are in the master/butler mold, Judas the student is in love with his unattainable teacher (making Lenniel's life even more difficult), and now, with Azazel and his lover, we get the androgynous adolescents out of every bad yaoi manga, which Yayoi Neko says she hates. Considering that her four positive characters look more like manly guys, and the two negative like those spindly boys Japanese women seem to love, "hate" is not too strong a word.
This third volume of Incubus brings some resolution to one of the three love stories we've now been following. The last two will no doubt make the next volumes worth waiting for.
You can find the author here, and the book is available from the publisher or Amazon.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Various news
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Micki: Prisoners of Passion now in book form


Author(s): Jörg Meyer-Bothling.


The recently-reviewed Micki: Prisoners of Passion, the second volume in Jörg Meyer-Bothling's series, is now available in print form and pdf version, after an initial eBook version. You can head to Lulu.com to buy the book. It should have good production values, from what I've seen of other Lulu-published books.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Blog review
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Angelface #1 and Tug Harder #1

Category: erotica.
Author(s): Benoît Prévot, Butch McLogic.
Year of publication: 2008.


I hadn't reviewed Class Comics' publications in some time, so here are two of the recent ones.

Angelface #1 is the first issue of a translated French comic by a very talented artist, Benoît Prévot (his website is here, and here's a gallery of his art).
Alan and Red enjoying each otherIn 1922 London, Alan and Red are lovers and thieves who've pulled off a very good job, with jewels aplenty for both of them. But Alan dreams of America and leaves his lover, taking the loot with him. Thus begins the chase: they both board ships, Red having to shove coal on his to pay for his passage, while Alan enjoys a passenger ship, and more exactly some of the passengers, all the while amassing yet more money from his unlucky tricks. But there are bigger fishes in the sea than a pretty face with low morals, and some are sharks...
Benoît Prévot has created a wonderfully entertaining tale, all done in sepia colors, with hot sex and attractive rogues drawn with an assured and very illustrative style. He even manages to make us root for Alan when the so-called "Angelface" finds himself in the hands of unsavory characters. The ending of this 32-page comic should make any reader feel like waiting for the next issue, which hopefully will come soon, since it has already been published in French, and the artist is working on the third one.
You can buy Angelface #1 from the publisher.

coverTug Harder #1 is written and drawn by Butch McLogic, a newcomer to the scene.
On a farm run by a horny old man supervising a crew of tough, ex-convicts arrives a man, seemingly in search of a job. But Doug Arder is a kind of covert agent (the cover gives a clue to his true purpose), determined to sample the manly products of the farm.
The men of the farmMcLogic has written an unusual story: while he plays with gay porn clichés (the all-man farm where everybody fucks everybody), he also introduces a few, realistic elements (all those men are homophobic and react badly when they discover who Arder really is), as well as touches of humor and tenderness (look at the bottom row of the excerpt on the right).
I thought the art was wonderful: very expressive and warm, with a use of color that's as striking as it is almost baroque, and a lovingly detailed rendering of the men's bodies and clothes.
The cliffhanger at the end of this first issue is far weirder than what happens in Angelface, and borders on the insane. I'm rather curious to see where McLogic is going with this.
You can buy Tug Harder #1 from the publisher.


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Sunday, November 02, 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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Maurice Vellekoop's Pin-Ups

Category: erotica, illustration.
Author(s): Maurice Vellekoop.
Year of publication: 2008.


It had been far long since we'd had the pleasure of discovering new drawings by the Toronto-based illustrator Maurice Vellekoop, who's always seemed torn between opera and erotica. Last time, the fat ladies won. And this time, it's all about the boys.
So, Green Candy Press has published a very good looking, large-sized, 120-page collection of all-new, full-page art, divided by the author in various sections (Calendar Boys, Sports, Fantasy, etc.). The volume is introduced by Vellekoop's partner, who tells us about his lover's life and career, his influences and his goals in producing this body of work.

SKA is the Limit, from the Music sectionDaisy Duke, from the Ne'er-do-Wells section

What's particularly interesting is the evolution of Vellekoop's style. While remaining clearly his own, the drawings are a bit less cartoony than they used to, a bit more realistic. At the same time, the bodies are often less bulky, longer and narrower. The reader will have to decide which style he prefers, but both are highly sexy and alluring, in my opinion.
As for the colors, they are as warm and vivid as usual, giving the always ithyphallic male characters depicted here a glow that adds to their attractiveness.
The reader will also have fun spotting the numerous references that pepper the pages: from Star Trek to Da Vinci, from Gainsborough to Greek mythology.
Maurice Vellekoop's Pin-Ups looks like the inside of the artist's mind. Aren't we lucky to have been invited to have a peep?
You can buy the book at Amazon.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Blog review
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Inland

Category: slice-of-life.
Author(s): Anneli Furmark.
Year of publication: 2008.


PanelsDrawn & Quarterly is a publisher who's always done gay-inclusive anthologies, right from the Drawn & Quarterly magazine which, launching in 1990, featured Maurice Vellekoop's art and introduced me to his work when I was still closeted--I never recovered. Vellekoop's work even graced the very funny and sexy cover of the Best Of published in 1993. But I digress again.
The latest and fifth issue of their current anthology, Drawn & Quarterly Showcase, includes Inland, a 35-page story by Anneli Furmark, a Swedish artist I didn't know.
David and Jakob are two thirty-year-old lovers spending a few days in David's small town, to meet his parents who don't know about their son being gay. The story is composed of small scenes told in two panels per page, giving it a slow and realistic rythm. Nothing special happens here, only two men trying to make sense of each other's lives. David is still in the closet and hopes that meeting Jakob, whom he introduces as a friend, will help his parents understand their real relationship when he tells them the truth (that definitely struck a chord with me), while Jakob wrestles with having to behave in an untruthful way.
Furmark's art is the kind which doesn't look stylish or impressive, but in fact draws the reader in the story, with her knack for drawing real people and real settings, and her subdued colors complementing her quiet depiction of inner turmoil.
Inland is not a story for readers who are looking for bigger than life characters and plots, but rather for those who can enjoy a well-crafted and thoughtful story.
Drawn & Quarterly Showcase #5 can be found at Amazon.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008
Blog review
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Micki: Prisoners of Passion

Category: erotica, humor.
Author(s): Jörg Meyer-Bothling.
Year of publication: 2008.


Jörg Meyer-Bothling's Micki is back in this new book, self-published by the author. At the end of the first volume, Micki: Sighs in the Desert, the title character was stranded in the desert, although in the company of a charming and horny black guy.
In this follow-up, the perpetually undressed title character--whose physique reminds me of the line from the Queer as Folk tv show saying that sex with a muscled man is "like being let loose on a bouncy castle"-- keeps on trucking, or rather tricking, throughout a desert populated by Turkish Döner sellers, Spanish ex-consuls, Italian race car drivers, and other specimen of fine manhood (including a Japanese samurai, who's really far from home). It seems that Micki's desert is busier than Canal Street on a Saturday evening, if I may use one more QaF reference. In fact, I'm beginning to think that the Micki series is a reductio ad absurdum of gay erotic tropes: a man meets a man, has sex, then meets another man, and repeat until the rinse cycle is over. Or something like that. Think of it: Where would you least expect to meet so many willing guys? All right, there's Antarctica, the Moon, and the Vatican. Although when I think of those cute Swiss Guards...But I digress. Micki and his Tuareg lover are reunited 
I'll only add that Micki will meet again his lost Tuareg love, in a sequence that's as hot as funny. Because Meyer-Bothling keeps on giving us generous portions of humor to supplement the sex.
So, in short, I can assure you that if you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy this one (but the "story" is not so complicated as to prevent enjoyment for someone who hasn't seen the previous instalment). You can buy the book from Lulu.com.


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