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Rain, Kevin, Nathan & Drew

Curbside Boys

A 126-page album published by Cleis Press, 2002.
ISBN: 1-57344-154-6.
Buy from Amazon.
This is the follow-up to the first collection, Curbside.

Category: slice-of-life.

Author(s): Robert Kirby.

Is it love, is it lust... or is it both?

After the first Curbside collection (cleverly titled "Curbside"), Robert Kirby is back for another helping of love and lust among twenty-somethings.
But this time, Kirby becomes a secondary character and switches from autofiction to pure fiction. We now follow Nathan, a friend of Kirby who'd been given some strip space in the first volume and who finds himself living in a flat already shared by two other roommates: Kevin, a stoic and seemingly stable guy, and Drew, a reserved and bookish guy who'll soon develop a crush on Nathan.

The four main characters (that includes Rain, an ex/present/future boyfriend of Kevin) all have their chance to get center stage in this volume, which changes the mainly one-voice narration of the first volume into a kind of queer quartet full of sex and tender feelings.
It seems to me that Kirby made a conscious effort to flesh out his characters, so as not to present a one-sided story. This narrative technique also allows the characters to grow and change more naturally, their actions and their inner voices showing people doing their best to be fair to one another (well, for most of them).

The narration is not the only sign of a more mature work. Kirby's art has evolved over the ten years between the beginning of the first volume and the last strips in this collection. It is now more assured, facial expressions are far more subtle, and the bodies look less rubbery (not that I have anything against "rubbery" per se, but it was obviously only a stage in the maturation of Kirby's art).

Kirby is at work on a third volume of his series. While it will be at least a few years before we see a new collection, we can be sure that his characters, as well as his skills, will keep on evolving. I can't wait to see the results.

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