And Little Comics, all in a Row

This is pretty late, but as I was inspired by the recent month-long list of Good LGBT Comics on the Comic Book Resources site (see posting below), I thought I would post a quick roundup of some of the mini comics, books and zines I got at APE and elsewhere recently (in no particular order). Rest assured, all of these titles are well worth your time and money, so click on the appropriate links and use as directed.

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce
This little burst of brilliance features the titular character, a big, strange, hairy, hunky lug with a big love for his many, many kitty cats, along with his bizarre friends and acquaintances, among them the totally inappropriate Smusherrrr (who stars in one of the funniest stories, “Straight Street”) and Pavel, a kitty tormented by frightening, possibly drug-induced visions. These comic books are actually really hard to describe – you really just have to see them for yourself to fully appreciate their many wonders. Ed Luce, a newcomer to the “biz,” has created one of the best debut comics in many, many moons. Two issues out so far (#’s 0 and 1) and they complement each other nicely, so make sure to get both.

Shirtlifter by Steve MacIsaac
Dashing Steve MacIsaac tells smart tales of urban, sexual and social angst, with a particular focus on cultural displacement, and he draws really, really well. These short stories are thoughtful character studies more than plot-driven exercises, but he also depicts hunky hairy guys doing it pretty frequently. The first issue is a standard comic book and the other two are thin perfect bound paperbacks (the second, all-color edition was a Xeric Grant recipient), all very nicely produced.

Hard to Swallow by Dave Davenport and Justin Hall
This X rated series is filled with lusty adventures of throbbing pirates doing nasty stuff to one another and a buxom werewolf with a talented tongue, accompanied by his pal, a horny punk rock ghost. There is much heavy-duty “sexual intercourse” here and it’s gorgeously drawn with large dollops of humor by two of the best gay comics pornographers around, Justin and Dave. Guest star Brad Rader kicks in with a very funny 50’s-style sci-fi porno parody, featuring a penis so terrifyingly large even the most heavy-duty size queen would quail from its massive bulk.

Estrus Comics by Mari Naomi
Mari Naomi kisses and tells in this sequence of intensely auto-bio romances (and, as it turns out, non-romances). This girl has seemingly done it all with quite the variety of the good, the bad and the ugly (we’ve all been there) and reading the grisly details is fun, if occasionally cringe-inducing! I particularly recommend issue 6 and wonder what MariNaomi will do if she ever, god forbid, runs out of exes to write about!

A Waste of Time by Rick Worley
A collection of short cartoon strips about bleak existential angst with occasional bouts of suicidal ideation, but also artistic angst and the usual helping of torment over boys and sex, and lack thereof. It’s all in good humor – in fact some of it is funny as hell – and it’s all told through the artist’s familiar, a cute little fluffy bunny rabbit and his furry pals. This is great twentysomething angst – I’m almost embarrassed by how much I identified with it – and I sure hope Worley doesn’t stop at #1. AWOT is published by Brian Anderson, the So Super Duper guy, who appears to be branching out as a small press comics mogul – You Go on With Your Bad Self! BTW, looking at one of Brian’s So Super Duper comic books (he recently birthed the 6th issue) is to me like looking at a cupcake, a cupcake topped with a swirl of pink frosting and covered with sprinkles, lots of sprinkles.

Runx Tales by Matt Runkle
Newcomer Matt Runkle’s comic is a ragtag comics collection of wacky on the road-type adventures (“Summer of Love” – in Portland), weird job stories (“The Weiner Takes it All”) and bemused lovelorn snippets (“That’s Why I’m So Obsessed”) that are fresh, funny, and big-hearted. This zine has a funky charm all its own. I’ve reread it 3x already now and really hope there will be future Runx’s. It’s huggable!

Tales of…Blarg! by Janelle Hessig
This long-running zine is uber cool, but never in a cooler-than-thou way – it’s simply irreverent and hilarious grunge cartoon goodness – total
Punk Rock for sure. This 9th issue is actually a couple of years old, but it’s still available for those of you who want to read stories like “Shitting is the New Crying” and “Gilman Street Babylon” – lots of crazy ass shenanigans and genuinely funny scatology in these pages. C’mon, you know you want to.

Homobody by Tim Batiuk/Rio Safari
This a sweet series by one Rio Safari – 4 issues out so far that show a lot of promise. He also did a groovy little mini-mini called Gay Lithp and a really good one shot called Odd Ends that mainly features an auto-bio piece about how the author’s close friendship with another boy changed as the two grew up into different realities (one straight, one gay) – it rang universally true. I’ll be curious to see how these comics develop in the future.

You Can’t Get There from Here by Carrie McNinch
One of favorite zines, this is a collection of daily diary comics featuring the ups and occasional extreme downs in McNinch’ s life. Each day gets a short wrap up, and every entry gets a song of the day written up top (one of my favorite things here is checking out that entry: “oh yeah, what a great song”). I love immersing myself in McNinch’s life and her drawing style is zen-like perfection.

Todd’s Favorite Adult Actors and Their Favorite Flowers from Eye Rocket Books
A true original, this is a little portfolio of cards of adult film actors with their favorite flower. Each card is in its own plastic page, like baseball cards or Wacky Packs. The front of the card has a drawing of each “actor” with his flower – for example, the very manly Raymond Dragon, whose floral object of choice is the Tulip. The back of the card carries the actor’s stats (Birthplace, ht & wt, sexual position) and a story from “Todd” describing a beautiful, breathlessly romantic scenario with each man in question. Eight cards in all. This true objet d’art would make a wonderful one-of-a-kind gift and I never say that sort of thing (articles devoted to gift giving suggestions gag me), but it’s really true in this case. Fabulous.

Papercutter from Tugboat Press
Excellent anthology series, lovingly produced and handled with care – the price is right too – only 4 bucks each! Not gay, but we want good alterna-comics of whatever persuasion, right? I’ve seen issues 4, 7 and 8 and recommend all of them. Contributors include Vanessa DavisAndy Hartzell (one of our wonderous Boy Trouble boys – let’s hear it!), Jonathan HillJeremy TinderAron Nels Steinke, and other bright lights in the alternative comics firmament. Tugboat also published a haunting book collection of a full year of Carrie McNinch’s strips, I Want Everything to be Okay.

Spaniel Rage by Vanessa Davis
Along with Carrie McNinch, Davis is my favorite diary cartoonist. She is a wonderful artist who manages to present the most mundane occurrences of life in an acutely observant and relatable way, without drawing any unnecessary fuss to said acute observations. I already raved about Spaniel Rage below, so a two-time rave means Get This, obviously.

If I left anything out of this past month’s booty, let me know and I’ll throw it up here; I may actually do this here round up as a rotating feature if y’all like it and find it useful.

A Look Back at Curbside Boys

Comic Book Resources, a general interest site pertaining to you-know-what, has a current running feature by one Brian Cronin called A Month of Good LGBT Comics, wherein he does a little write up on a gay-oriented comic book he likes each day. My book Curbside Boys (Cleis Press, 2002) was his third entry, a nice surprise. I thought the review was spot-on too: I will always feel one of my main strengths is characterization and a weakness is my “loquaciousness” (as Cronin so aptly put it). I had so much to say with the strips in that particular book that I often neglected to edit myself down, so some of the episodes lack a visual dynamism, due to the dominance of text. This is a weakness that I’m still not sure I have completely overcome yet. Still, I remain proud of that book – although it’s not autobiographical per se, it’s straight from my heart and guts, and much of my personal life experience and feelings went into it, particularly on the twentysomething love and sex front (oh, the memories…) Anyway, I’m pleased that Curbside Boys “made the list,” and I’m looking forward to seeing what other titles will be featured in the days and weeks ahead……