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"If I'm occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being immensely over-educated." Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.
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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.

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Gus and Waldo
Frater Mine #6-7
Subscribe to the GCL
So Super Duper #6
Shirtlifter #3



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Entries for December 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, 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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