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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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On this page:

The A-Z LGBT Comic Book Character Superlist
Runx Tales #2
An interview with Howard Cruse, and a new cover
Stripped: Uncensored



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Entries for October 2009:
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Saturday, October 24, 2009
Various news
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The A-Z LGBT Comic Book Character Superlist

A new website has recently appeared on the net, and, as its name indicates, The A-Z LGBT Comic Book Character Superlist intends to list all the queer characters in (mostly mainstream) comics. It's a valuable addition to what Prism Comics and the Gay League are doing, since it references both those sites and others to create what the people who maintain it hope will be a complete list. More than 300 characters are already listed, which is a good start, to say the least.
So, have a look, tell them I sent you, and do add your own suggestions. They need your collaboration.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009
Review update
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Runx Tales #2

Author(s): Matt Runkle.

coverAbout a year after the first issue, Matt Runkle is back with another collection of short, true-life stories with an even larger variety of topics. 
I must admit I thought it was lighter than its predecessor, but that mostly reflects my interest, or lack thereof, in various subjects: the longest, central piece is about the Ranch dressing, which I'd never heard of previously (I don't think it's reached French coasts, but I might be wrong). This story is text-heavy and mostly fact-based, with Runkle's wry humor present throughout. No doubt his time spent as a waiter has given him the idea of spending half an issue on this rather unexpected subject.
Two other stories are not about the author himself, but about female friends who are, or were, important in his life. The first one is told in the first person by Nora, an old friend of his, and shows her numerous encounters with a shady guy of no stable identity. It's funny, slightly weird, and drawn in a solid style with dense layouts that made me think of Ariel Schrag's. The second one is a moving homage to Samantha Jane Dorsett, a transgender woman who seems to have been a formidable presence and who died last summer.
an excerpt from the Farm School storyThe fourth story in this issue, and the one opening it, is the one I most enjoyed: entitled "Wrestling with the Truth", it shows a young Runkle attending a school on a farm, among cowboys and wrestlers, all markers of traditional masculinity in his part of the world. In only five pages, Runkle covers a lot of ground, from his growing self-awareness that he wasn't comfortable living there--and why--to his budding fantasies about some of his classmates, including what might be called a spiritual experience after having banged his head during a wrestling exercise. But he didn't see a bearded, old man in the clouds, that's for sure. Runkle uses yet another art style, halfway between the text/illustration style of the Ranch story and the more conventional storytelling style of Nora's story. This style where each full page is filled with seemingly meandering textual and visual informations builds for me a reading experience that's close to the half-dream, half-reality way we often experience memory--in short, it's very effective in drawing in the reader.
The multiplicity of art and storytelling styles remains for me an important quality of Matt Runkle's work. The two opening pages, a succession of smaller panels showing his selves sketched in various ways announcing the four stories, work the same way, by presenting us with a kaleidoscope of experiences and memories lived through a queer and questioning prism.
Now that Matt Runkle can be found at his own website, I hope he'll give us more of his very personal point of views in the form of "visual essays", as he calls his strips.

This comic, which is 24 pages long and magazine-sized (with a nice, thick color cover), is sold by Last Gasp.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009
Various news
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An interview with Howard Cruse, and a new cover

Author(s): Howard Cruse.

Howard Cruse recently gave a wide-ranging interview to a site called Dr Dick's Sex Advice, talking about his career (including his all new collection From Headrack to Claude), his life, and the history of gay-themed comics. The podcasts are here and here, and it's definitely worth your time.
The second piece of news concerning Cruse is the upcoming 2010 reissue of Stuck Rubber Baby by DC's imprint Vertigo (it was originally published by another, now defunct imprint). The occasion is the 15th anniversary of the book, and I really hope that with the current wealth of adult-themed graphic novels, SRB will get the attention it deserves. There will be a new introduction by Alison Bechdel (which shows that DC knows the potential audience of SRB) and an all-new cover by Howard Cruse. Look at this:
the new cover

You can see the sketches for the cover on the Vertigo blog.
I also recommend that you visit Cruse's blog, which is full of both entertaining and serious musings and news.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009
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: Uncensored

Category: erotica, illustration.
Author(s): Michael Breyette, Carlos García, Xavier Gicquel, HvH, Mioki, P239, François Peneaud, Joe Phillips.
Year of publication: 2009.

Three years after the first Stripped anthology, publisher Bruno Gmünder is back with a second helping. The thick (250 pages) book is, like its predecessor, a collection of stylistically-varied gay erotic illustrations, with the one exception being an excerpt from an erotic comic, namely the upcoming Brother to Dragons #2, (which I've written, art by Carlos García). Here's the complete list of the artists:
Jack Balas, Bastian, BEAU, Patrick Branch, Michael Breyette, Michael Broderick, Chancer, Rob Clarke, William Donovan, Jason Driskill, Patrick Fillion, FoxyAndy, Victor Gadino, Carlos García, Xavier Gicquel, Anthony Gonzales, Wes Hempel, Glenn Hillario, Hokane, HvH, Steven J. King, Juvaun Kirby, Michael Kirwan, Tai Lin, Eddie Lopez, Andrea Madalena, Michael Mitchell, Mike, Mioki, Moro, Jacob Mott, Paul Newboult, Chuck Nitzberg, P239, Joe Phillips, Adam Razak, Harvey Redding, Miguel Angel Reyes, Robert W. Richards, Paul Richmond, Dan Romer, Roscoe, Peter Skirrow, Jezza Smilez, P.C. Smith, Gary Speziale, Jozef Szekeres, George Towne, Michail Tsikoudakis, Ross Watson, Patrick Webb, Todd Yeager, Stefan Zeh, Bob Ziering.

I can only write the same things about this book as I did about the first one: there's something for everyone, from photo-realistic to cartoony and stylised, some of the art shows only partially nude men, and some is sexually explicit, and yes, I have my favorites. Jack Balas's blend of painting and line art adds layers of meaning to seemingly usual sex scenes; Michael Kirwan's paintings are full of everyday guys and scenes, which I find very appealing, his slightly exaggerated style cock-wise creating a fun dichotomy (and I really wish someone would publish a collection of his art); Dan Romer's colorful, almost abstract leather art is full of energy; Michail Tsikoudakis's paintings are very evocative, with a use of neutral colors which sets them apart from most of the other art in the book; Chancer's black and white fine line art looks like a fragile piece of porcelain...and I haven't covered half the book yet.

Jack Balas Michael Kirwan Dan Romer

The only drawback to such a collection is that only 3 or 4 pieces of art per artists are shown, which can be frustrating when it's artists who don't have any internet presence. Hopefully, that will make them get a website or at least a gallery somewhere. But of course, the main merit of this book is to show their work to a wider audience.
You can find this book at any bookseller, or at Amazon.

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