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I first read Jon Macy’s comic Fearful Hunter as single issue floppies, but never saw issues beyond the first two. Now it’s expanded to a beautifully rendered 316 pages, with additional “fan fiction” takes of the story by other cartoonists, thanks to Kickstarter support and Northwest Press.
Macy explains in the book’s introduction and in a video about the book, that he started the book as a reaction to the passing of Proposition 8 in California. He writes, “I didn’t know how to respond, I just wanted to do something to counter all the voices that said marriage between gay men is frivolous and impossible.”
He also adds, “It was certainly a story I was crafting for the 13-year-old I once was, who really needed to see stories of gay men that didn’t end with one or both of them dying.”
So in a way, this is a young adult romance, only it’s about a Druid and werewolf that fall in love, and includes gods, magic, shape-shifters, rednecks, and punks. There’s sex, but it leans towards erotic and romantic rather than explicit or hard-core. That’s a quixotic mix; if you’re not into it, well, probably this just isn’t your book.
Oisin, a young tattooed punk, is on the cusp of being initiated into Druidhood when he falls in love with Byron, a werewolf boy. Werewolves mate for life, so a failed romance would mean life-long sadness for Byron. Luckily Oisin seems committed and their romance is intense, involving both punk rock and magic making.
The two of them seem bound for a long-term relationship, at least until the gods interfere. Druid initiation for Oisin involves sexual congress with Druid gods (which is drawn as bondage sex with gods that morph into phallic vines – wow!). While Oisin is thus occupied, Byron is vulnerable to the advances of Tavius, Oisin’s Druid mentor. There’s lots of tension, but it all turns out OK for these two; as Macy promises, the ending is happy.
There are many great details that enrich the story along the way. For example, when the boys find a good luck penny on the sidewalk, Oisin says, “The cast off symbol of wealth represents the redistribution of positive energy.” “You mean I get a wish?” Byron replies. How Druid-punk is that? Nature is everywhere in the book, from tree roots and branches to psychedelic whorls and fractals of the universe. I loved the Druid deities’ capes made of roots, feathers and especially spider webs. Tattoos, horns, shaved heads and piercings abound. And there’s a shape-shifting fox boy who plays matchmaker, and is himself pretty foxy. Other cartoonists seem to agree, as his character shows up in several of the fun fan-fiction romps drawn by other artists.
The black and white art is at times romantic, abstract and sometimes humorous. Erotic works are always subjective, but there’s plenty of low-slung jeans at punk shows and naked guys bonding in the woods.
In the time since Macy began his book, things have changed, and Proposition 8 has been gutted. But that’s in part because people like Macy were willing to take stand and show the haters how wrong they were, channeling their anger into art that provided positive queer alternatives, even in fantasy, that we can enjoy now.
By Jon Macy
Hardcover, 9781938720550, 316 pp.