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First collection cover

Tales of the closet volume 1


A 100-page collection, Planet Bronx, 2005.

Category: coming-out, homophobia, lesbian, slice-of-life.

Author(s): Ivan Velez.
Website: http://www.planetbronx.com.

The whole gang

Ivan Velez's 1987 series Tales of the Closet makes a deserved come-back with the first of four volumes collecting the nine published issues and the all-new tenth one, thanks to a Xeric Grant which has allowed Velez to launch this collected edition.
Somewhere in Queens in 1987, eight teenagers from the same high school meet. They're all gay, and none but one is out - and he's paying for it. Whites, blacks, latinos, girls and boys, of all sizes and temperaments, these eight young people quickly form a strong friendship initially based on their one common point: their homosexuality and the difficulty of living it. And it is difficult: they have to face hostile classmates and sometimes family, without even mentioning gay bashers. But even with all the real-world ugliness he depicts (or because?), Ivan Velez manages to build very warm and believable characters, full of energy and hopes.

His art, whose strong points are the facial and body language far more than backgrounds, give each of them a lot of personality. They don't look like models, they look -and sound- like real people. From the muscled jock who's only beginning to accept who he is to the freckled girl who befriends him and makes him come out of his shell, all those characters feel real, and it's no wonder Ivan Velez worked for a gay youth institute at the time he began to create this series (the same institute which paid for the comics).

So, yes, there are some appalling things happening in the course of the three episodes collected here, characters get hurt, psychologically and physically, but there's also a lot of affection between them, and even if sometimes it feels like the author tries to cover a bit too much ground in a few pages, it all becomes real and engaging, thanks to the equally expressive art and situations.


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