Eddie, a former art student, has one cell phone for calls from his family, friends and lover. His other phone, and his other name, Ford, is private and strictly business. Eddie works as a male escort–a job he tries, but fails, to restrict to odd hours outside his mainstream life. Sucked into the world of rent boys by his admiration for Nelson, a handsome male sex worker, Eddie soon finds his new occupation, and the duplicity it requires, affects both how he treats others and how he feels about himself. (more…)
The long-awaited English translation of Blue is the Warmest (ArsenalÂ Pulp Press), originally published in French as Le bleu est une couleur chaude, is a deeply compelling story, in large part due to its thorough exploration and attention to character. The graphic novel is told almost entirely in retrospect, as the formerly blue-haired Emma reads through the diaries of her deceased lover, Clementine. The diaries begin in 1994 France when Clementine is a fifteen-year-old sophomore in high school and continue over a decade into the future, though they focus largely on the rocky development of her and Emmaâ€™s relationship when Clementine first begins to discover her attraction towards women and struggles to accept her sexuality. With close-minded conservative parents and only one gay friend to confide in, the teenage Clementine internalizes her desire for Emma, caught in a wonderful and terrifying limbo that many queer youth are likely to relate to, one between discovering lust and feeling ashamed by who you lust after, between falling in love and self-hate. (more…)
Not Your Motherâ€™s Meatloaf Â (Soft Skull Press)Â started in 2008 when authors Saiya Miller and Liza Bley put out an open call for young people to contribute comics that addressed subjects often ignored by traditional sex ed programs. They wanted to include topics like body image, safe sex, consent, and relationships, and include comics that challenged hetero and gender normative practices in sex education. (more…)
Hungry Bottom comics are clever, sassy, funny, artful, brattyâ€¦and insightful and wise. The theme for Williamsâ€™ biographical comic is emblazoned boldly on the first volumeâ€™s front cover: “Wow, you are a hungry bottom!â€ť Williams prefaces his book by saying that some of the comics began as single-page â€śzingers.â€ť That said, heâ€™s done a great job of merging these single shots into the narrative of his tale.
Julioâ€™s Day is the story of Julioâ€™s life, spanning one hundred years, and covering approximately the same amount of pages. The pace of this graphic novel, which compiles a story originally serialized in Love and Rockets comics (with the addition of 36 pages), is set by this century timeline that runs through it. Just as clocks tick away lives in the real world, the turn of the page echoes that heartbeat of time for this tale. (more…)
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…)