Gay comics & cartoonists
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As the owner of used book, used CD and comic books shop I buy all the gay material that comes my way. Particularly gay comics. Some of it has been damned dreadful. I remember a British gay superhero comic that looked liked scribbles - made Rage from Queer as folk look stylish.
Often I've tried to get gay mini-comics from Last Gasp, the distributor we get non-commercial comics from. But gay mini-comics don't seem to know to send Last Gasp their work (this is a hint). We don't buy mini-comics directly (unless you live near Durham, NC) since we can justify buying only a few copies.
We've carried Meatmen for a few years even though I sometimes hide them. I've already been in jail enough times and would rather not see the inside of the Durham County Jail. The art in Meatmen ranges from blah to pretty (I can't remember the artists' name but one of the regulars has a gift for pretty faces).
Howard Cruse, who I've read since the days of underground comics, has never seemed compelling. But Cruse knows his craft and his heart while often on his sleeve is in the right place.(I need to remember to put Stuck Rubber Baby back in stock.)
I suppose you could say that Eric Orner's mostly pedestrian Ethan Green shows a sliver of craft. He's clearly read lots of comic strips. It isn't as bad as say Cathy but the jokes and art never rise above the middling. It is probably as good as much of what fills newspapers comics section these days.
I've only read his first collection but can't imagine Jeff Krell's Jayson having managed to evolve into a funny comic strip.
You may be thinking what about Leonard & Larry. Well, I read the fourth book, How Real Men Do It this afternoon. It was the book that inspired this quick note.
Tim Barela's strip has never given me more than a few mild smiles. The new collection seemed even less amusing than before. Storytelling is unique attribute that separates comics from still images. What happens in each panel, how the pictures stand apart but relate to each other is the quality that makes or breaks a comics arts. I don't expect anyone to equal Milton Caniff or Roy Crane. But in text heavy panels that mostly show head and shoulders storytelling ability keeps the eye moving with the narrative: Barela needs the gift more than most. The strip is mostly static drawings with big word balloons.
Leonard & Larry's focus on gay bears is likeable. I'm neither a bear nor an admirer. But mainstream gay culture ignores them. It is good to see an exception.
Do I like anything? Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For. Bechdel using simple lines to accommodate the limited space given to comics artists nowadays. And she knows how to do what Harold Gray did: each strip has an opening and closing that is satisfying in itself but fits into the overall continuity that makes a collection read as a steady narrative. Craftsmanship aside I like the stories. More than once I've felt like it would be great to be a Lesbian and be with Mo.
Normally I don't add disclaimers to my weblog entries: I'm distressed that I don't like more gay comics. Despite the words above I've provided links where you can see more of the artists' work or buy their books. There must be many gay cartoonists whose work I've never seen; maybe you can give me a link.
Possibly interesting URL: Gay cartoonists strive to create their own worlds on the Internet
And: Gay League.
[Listening to: Believe The Hype - Snap! - (4:51)]