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Zines and mini-comics have been supplanted in the public’s eye by electronic publishing, but they are still a viable way to get your work out there. Victor Hodge’s comic Black Gay Boy Fantasy started as a physical zine many years ago. In his blog he says, “It’s hard to believe that I put out my very first ‘zine in 1998 and kind of did my latest (last?) Issue in 2011.” It’s exciting to see this digital forty-page collection of Hodges’ first three zines, put out by Northwest Press, along with some additional color bonus pictures.
Black Gay Boy Fantasy follows the story of Neil Jordan’s gay coming of age. As a teen lusting over El De Barge, he knows he’s gay. “But as the years passed, I saw that my gayness was connected to more than just sex.” Neil becomes politically active when he joins a Washington, DC candlelight vigil to protest Colorado’s amendment number 2, which banned gay rights. Pressure mounts when he’s asked to be interviewed on TV, and old childhood anxieties resurface about being out.
But those soon vanish when he meets dread-locked hottie Imu. Another light bulb goes off–Neil realizes being politically active might also lead to being sexually active (“Talk about FOINE!”).
Neil and Imu meet up for “coffee and talk about everything.” Neil naively reads all kinds of possibilities into everything Imu says–until Imu drops the bomb, assuring Neil that if they’re on the news, “my boyfriend will tape it.” Neil’s combined rush of fantasy, rage and realization use the comic format to best effect, and highlight Hodge’s talent at capturing a lot of emotion in just a few panels of drawing.
Another tale follows the relationship of Neil and Zelda, two queer kids covering each other’s backs. “I was always in love with your big brother. You never held it against me,” Neil remembers, years later about his childhood friend. We see their shared search to find their identities through tattoos, pierced ears, booze, clubs, pot and Purple Rain. Finally they find their own crowds of Wimmin/Gurlz and Boyz. Zelda moves to Seattle, but back in DC, none of Neil’s friends can replace her. When she shows up years later, it’s a triumphant reunion, and Zelda’s glad to be in a city full of gorgeous women of color again. It’s a story of friendship maturing over the years, and friends that give support in a way that lovers and families can’t.
Hodge’s drawing style is scratchy, loose and friendly. He’s not afraid to get silly, but he’s also adept at capturing emotions in a few pen strokes. I’m grateful his work will gain a wider readership, and this book shares the voice of another cartoonist of color. I look forward to seeing more of his work, whether he continues with Neil Jordan’s story, or starts a whole new venture.
The Collected Black Gay Boy Fantasy #1
By Victor Hodge
Paperback, 40 pp.