One of the many difficulties for transgender or gender non-conforming folk is to get an overview of what transgender life is like, and most importantly, what a typical transgender life can be. Until fairly recently, most transgender biographies have been hidden, whispered about, or recorded as oddities. And the CIS world has not been welcoming, treating trans* identity as a medical or psychological abnormality, instead of one of many normal progressions to finding oneâ€™s self. (more…)
I come up against the same problem every time I try to discuss Dennis Cooper’s work. Transgressive work creates a visceral experience that is deeply subjective, even when using societal morals as an anchor point, and discussing Cooper’s work in a formal framework always has the effect of minimizing the statement of the work. He requires the reader to create a personal relationship with the content. (more…)
Reading the comic Gaylord Phoenix (Secret Acres) is a little like watching a psychedelic silent movie, or dropping acid. Unlike talkies, or mainstream comics, or real life, this story is told more in pictures than in words. Like in silent films, words and dialog are static insertions between blooming, exploding images.
And like tripping, the plot — what you the audience get out of the experience — has more to do with how you uniquely read the images you see, as opposed to following a predisposed script. (more…)
Imagine a collection of erotic tales penned anonymously by Oscar Wilde and friends. The stories come from a round-robin writing game and the participants are Victorians with various degrees of writing talent. But instead of a party game pastime, where the stories gets racier as the drinks go down, this book was a secret endeavor, passed hand to hand by participants, unsigned.
And Victorians, known for putting doilies on everything, are no less decorative when writing erotica.
I appreciated reading Jon Macyâ€™s framing introduction to his graphic novel version of Wilde and friendsâ€™ book Teleny and Camille (Northwest Press).Â He describes his struggle with making the flamboyant, lush language appeal to modern readers.
Fans of Eric Drookerâ€™s earlier books (Flood, Blood Song) may find this graphic novel disappointing. Itâ€™s exciting that a leftist artist like Drooker was chosen to animate a leftist poem like Howl.
But this book is not truly a graphic novel. These illustrations are simply stills taken from the film Howl (which came out earlier this fall), used to illuminate lines of the poem.
I havenâ€™t yet seen the film, and so to me, this book seemed like those pictures books parents buy their kids after seeing a Disney film, a kind of printed souvenir. As in much of his earlier work, Drooker uses a dark palette and images of urbanism and industrialism to signify evil. But the woodcut/scratchboard look of Drookerâ€™s art is gone. His drawings appear more 3-D; this film animation is more Shrek-like, than Persepolis-like. (more…)
Itâ€™s nice to see Robert Kirby back on the comic book scene, both as an editor (Boy Trouble) and an artist (Curbside Boys). His intro to Three explains the power of three: three muses, Three Musketeers, three wishes, beginning, middle and end, and queer as a three dollar bill. Itâ€™s a nice jump into the work of the artists in this debut issue, and what looks to be an intriguing series.
Eric Orner (The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green) opens with a strong story thatâ€™s both travelogue and mystery, â€śWeekends Abroad.â€ťÂ The tale is part of, as the artist explains, â€śthe last couple of years, which Iâ€™ve spent living, working and being illiterate in Israelâ€¦â€ť Although he lives in Jerusalem, he tries to escape on weekends to Tel Aviv, where the attitude is less uptight. He wanders around exploring the city and its cruising scene at night. When he discovers weird vertical graffiti, he images up possible guys who might have wrote it. (more…)
Andersen Gabrych (writer for Detective Comics, Batman, Batgirl and Catwoman, but yes, smarty-pants, that was also him acting in Edge of Seventeen, Gypsy 83 and Another Gay Movie) pairs up with animator and artist Brad Rader (best known for directing HBOâ€™s Spawn) to create this noir comic set in 1953 San Francisco. Frank Grissel is a private detective whoâ€™s as tough to chew as his name â€“ he pounds the booze, beats his women, talks dirty and can land a punch. Like most noir, this book is bleak and tawdry. The color spectrum is black and white with a lot of gray; the drawing style arcs back to both pulp comics of the fifties and the EC comics that mocked them.
A common noir plot turns on the choice of the protagonist, who given the options of good or evil, is good enough to choose good, but instead lets character flaws and/or sin lead him down the road to hell. (more…)
It struck me, while reading Stuck Rubber Baby so many years after its publication in 1995, that its setting, what its author Howard Cruse refers to as â€śKennedytime,â€ť makes it the perfect accompaniment to Mad Men and the current nostalgia for the early sixties.Â Its easy to love Mad Men for its costumed detail and its hindsight winks at sixties foolishness: cigarettes, girdles, nuclear families, and TVâ€¦ if only we knew then what we know now. But Mad Men never follows black characters home; so far, they stay maids and elevator operators. And little of uncloseted queer life shows up either; titillation, yes, but arts and rights? No.
Cruseâ€™s re-released graphic novel (with a new introduction by Alison Bechdel) explores topics at which Mad Men only hints.Â The advertising series is set in Gotham City; Cruseâ€™s story takes place in a thinly disguised Birmingham, Alabama. Â (more…)
The last time I was at Gay Pride, I was surprised and dismayed to bump into the Pillsbury Doughboy handing out free spatulas. I felt bittersweet as I walked away clutching my kitchen utensil (and wondering if it were for pancakes or spanking), thinking on the one hand how nice it was to see Pillsburyâ€™s corporate logo was LGBT (could a Pillsbury Doughboi be in the offing?), but on the other â€“ how sad! How pathetic! A freedom parade turned into a corporate marketing event!
If you prefer your queerness with a heavier dash of the red and the black, Homobodies #1-5 are for you. (more…)