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cover

Queerville


An 80-page large-sized graphic novel, Bruno Gmünder, 2007.
Buy from Amazon.

Category: erotica, humor.

Author(s): Tom Bouden.
Website: http://www.tombouden.be/.

Turbo and Max, chatting in a gay bar

The latest Tom Bouden harcdover from Bruno Gmünder is a treat for the eyes, and not only because of its erotic content. The German publisher usually offers his readers well-printed books, but I liked this one even more, with its large size, its matt, flat colors and its thick paper. It looks more like a classic European album than a mainstream comic--no flashy colors and thin, glossy paper here.
But of course, it won't be bought because of that. So, the content. After In Bed with David & Jonathan, Bouden is back with a collection of short stories drawn in the 90s and 00s, mixing his regular cast of Turbo (the sex obsessed guy), Max & Karl (a long-term couple), other familiar faces, with new or unnamed characters. Encountering again characters we'd met back in Max & Sven is a pleasure, and Bouden even gives characters the faces of the men from his Oscar Wilde adaptation, a fun way to link his books. The stories are usually about flings, tricks and various little things, blending (lots of) sex, everyday life and humor. They form a large tapestry which at the same time celebrates and pokes fun at gay, urban, contemporary life, in a gentle manner which I'd missed in the previous book, more or less a simple porn fest. But this one manages to give us hot scenes as well as well-written gay playlets, where friends chat while walking through cruising grounds and where lovers of the day make social and sexual faux pas.
I've already said I find Bouden's humor to be gentle, but it sometimes has a lot of bite. In fact, some of the gags are so gross and funny that they feel like urban legends, like for example the man being sucked by a young guy and whose foreskin gets stuck in the teenager's brace, or the family members who find themselves at the same place at the wrong time. It's the kind of stories you'd tell friends at the end of an evening.

As much as I like black and white art, Bouden's art looks wonderful with these flat colors, which enhance the similarity of his style to the ligne claire school, the descendants of Hergé and E.P. Jacobs. It might be more a matter of cultural signifiers than of intrinsic qualities (meaning, I'm used to the ligne claire style being used for certain kind of stories and a reader who doesn't have the same habits might not feel the same), but this style, which varies slightly on the cartoony/realistic scale, brings for me a real-life grounding to stories which can be rather fanciful, for all their two-men-meet-and-have-sex basic theme. In any case, Bouden can draw varied male bodies and faces, from well-muscled to skinny, from very cute to pretty ordinary.

Queerville is a welcome addition to the growing body of Tom Bouden's work translated in English. I don't know exactly how much he's done in his own language, but I certainly hope we'll get more collections of that caliber.

Playing with clichés
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