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Locker Mocker

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“Locker Mocker” is an all-ages (well, teens-and-up) adaptation of a story I did for JAQrabbit Tales, called “Bully”. It was included in You Are Not Alone volume 2, published by Grayhaven as a collection of stories about bullying. My focus, of course, was on the kind of hazing that gay and bi boys get in middle and high school.

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Code 288

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Police misconduct is a problem that’s finally getting serious attention, most commonly focusing on the treatment of African-Americans by white cops. This can take an even worse turn when the suspect is not only black but gay. “Code 288″ is police code for “public indecency”, and this story is about the different ways that’s often treated, depending on who’s being “indecent”. This story was done for APB: Artists against Police Brutality published by Rosarium Publishing.

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For Those About to Rock

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The title of this is a little joke. “For Those About to Rock” is a famous album by the band AC/DC. Which is an old slang term for a bisexual person. This story was done for an anthology published by Geeks Out, a social/advocacy group focusing on comics and LGBT folks. I don’t do much with superheroes, but the theme of the book was “Power” and I decided to combine a few different senses of the word into a short story: electrical power, super powers, and the personal empowerment of being open and honest about being bisexual. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I kept the story down to two pages, so I could crank it out quickly.

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“Faggot”s in Comics

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I was frustrated to read online that one of the owners of Whatever, reportedly a very good comics shop in San Francisco, was threatening a boycott of Brian K. Vaughan, over the use of the word “faggot” in the first issue of his and Cliff Chiang’s new series Paper Girls. And speaking “as a gay man who owns a comic book store” he called out Image for allowing the creators to use that word.

As a gay man who makes comics, I am troubled by this reactionary outburst.

Cougarich* seems to take his inspiration from the old Comics Code, which categorically banned certain words and subjects from comics in a misguided effort to protect children from them. “Zombie” was banned.  “Crime” couldn’t be in the title. Etc.  “There is NO place for this word especially in comics,” Cougarich declares. But this draconian standard overlooks the important matter of context: immediately after one of the characters calls someone a “faggot”, another character says that you shouldn’t do that.

Under the original terms of Code, it wasn’t permitted to depict drug use, even to condemn it. In order to tell a story showing the dangers of illicit narcotics, Marvel was forced to publish an issue without Code approval. It was actively counter-productive, and the Cougarich Code, with it’s appeal to the Word Police, would do the same thing, disallowing this “teachable moment”.

In a less heated mood, perhaps Cougarich might permit this usage, in the same spirit that the Code would permit the depiction of robberies as long as the perpetrator was properly punished. But even that rule was wrong-headed, and harmful as a universal requirement.

APB_004I’m a bit baffled that one still has to say this in 2015, but: comics aren’t all for children. As an adult, I don’t need a publisher to teach me these life lessons, nor do I need a retailer to protect me from stories that don’t meet his standards of moral obviousness. I recently made a short comic about police brutality, which includes an officer calling characters both “cocksucker” and “faggot”. No one corrects him. He doesn’t get punished for it. Because it’s not that kind of comic. It’s a comic about harsh facts of real life, and it’s intended for readers who are prepared to read about that and to reach their own conclusions about it.

If I was writing for children, I’d avoid those words, because children may not fully understand that context. And if I was writing something for adults that was intended to inoffensive, I’d do the same. But when I’m writing a story for adults about serious matters, I’m going to dialog it with the vocabulary that serious adults use. If someone doesn’t like that, then they are not my audience, and they are invited not to read it… whether they are a puritan from my hometown in the Midwest, or a gay couple from San Francisco.

I am a fierce defender of free speech, but I’m not saying that anyone can write what they want with no consequences. If a retailer feels that someone’s work is offensive, they have a right to say so, and even not to sell it. But I would hope they would apply a more insightful standard than this. And I also have the right to speak up and say when I disagree, and in this case I do emphatically.

And I do this because I am a gay man, one who labors under burdensome rules saying that I can’t post (this), and I can’t sell comics containing (that). I would very much like to sell my comics in stores, but because of the explicitly homosexual content, the number who would carry them is very small. And it’s sadly ironic that, because I use the word “faggot” in dialog – because people do – a store owned by a gay couple would be on the side of those who would not.

* Since the statement was posted under an account shared by the owners I don’t know which of the two was the author, so I’ll refer to them by the name used on the account.

JAQrabbit Tales

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The JAQrabbit Tales web site has gone live, and the first episode – all 6 pages of it – have been posted. This has been literally years in the making, so I’m pretty damn excited about it!

New pages (usually two at a time) will be posted every Monday, which will continue for the foreseeable future. Seriously: I have well over a year’s material ready, and I’m busy working on more.

Everybody’s Doin’ It!

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When Dale Lazarov offered to write a script for me to illustrate, I hesitated for several seconds before jumping at it. He’s the writer of several justifiably acclaimed books of gay erotic comics, and illustrating one of his stories was bound to be a lot of fun.

00aEverybodyCoverIt was. And now it’s on sale as a digital download (DRM-free, none of that online “rental” business) for just $2.85! This is the same story that was presented in Best Gay Erotica 2014, but at full size, full resolution, and in glorious color.

The plot – yes, plot: Dale writes stories, not just sex scenes – is four somewhat-parallel storylines (inspired by a similar technique used by Rick Veitch in Bratpack). A lanky cowboy and a husky workman meet on a dark city street, two African-American men connect at a professional mixer, a couple of gay geeks play with their action figures, a leather-jacketed Latino and a preppy Asian bodybuilder hook up in a bar. And things develop from there, with each couple ending in a different circumstance than they started. It’s a celebration of consensual, safe, enjoyable sex, whether it’s between strangers, acquaintances, partners, or new friends.

I’m ridiculously proud of the illustration work I did on this book, and the fact that it’s the first comic I’ve created that’s being sold as a stand-alone item (rather than being included in an anthology or just given away online) has me really excited!

I hope you will be too. :)

Best Gay Erotica in hand

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I just got my comp copies of Best Gay Erotica 2014!  Right there, starting on page 174 (which is inexplicably missing its page number), sandwiched by Dan Cavanaugh’s “Coach’s Pussy” and Max Vos’ “A Walk in the Park”, is all 13 pages of my and Dale Lazarov‘s “Everybody’s Doin’ It”!

To be honest, it’s not the best possible presentation of the art.  The book is smaller than a standard comic, with margins of the size commonly found in prose books, and recoloring the line art for gray-scale (instead of color) left it looking a bit muddy.  But this is a prose book, after all, printed on a press designed for type, and Cleis Press reproduced the comic about as well as one could hope for, given the format.  And most importantly, editor Larry Duplechan spelled my name and my web address correctly in my “about the authors” blurb. :)

And since I already know that Larry has excellent taste in queer porn … I got me some reading to do!

Best Gay Erotica 2014

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I just got a check in the mail as payment for the inclusion of my-and-Dale-Lazarov‘s “Everybody’s Doin’ It” in Cleis PressBest Gay Erotica 2014.*  This isn’t the first payment I’ve received for publication of my work, nor is it the first story to actually go to press (those were the Anything That Loves story), but this was my first contracted exchange of rights for money … just with a longer lead time.

You know, it’s colder than Hell outside tonight, and I was really looking forward to Kraft Dinner with leftover Christmas turkey stirred in, and a quiet evening curled up with a warm drawing tablet.  But I think tonight the Baxter Street Home for Wayward Boys will be having an outing instead: dinner at the Green Carnation, followed by drinks at the Subversion Lounge downtown.

*Available any day now in better … are there any brick-and-mortar gay bookstores left anywhere?  Anyway, available to order for shipping any day now from better web retailers everywhere.

Detective Comics #27

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Thanks to resetting the numbering on all of their ongoing titles, DC is about to publish another Detective Comics #27.  The first one was the first appearance of Batman, so this one is a special oversize, overpriced issue with multiple covers to choose from (or buy them all).  One of them is by former Batman legend Frank Miller.

My friend Richard Pace responded with a parody of it:

Inspired, I responded with a couple of my own.

The first is a reaction to the fact that Catwoman has nothing to do with the landmark issue. She wasn’t in it. Batman was. So was Commissioner Gordon:

The second refers to the issue about a year later that introduced Robin. Since DC started over with #1, they have yet to reintroduce Stephanie Brown, a character with a strong fan following, who briefly had the role of Robin, before being killed for cheap shock value. (as happens far too often these days in superhero comics). So I figured they should bring her back in the same issue:

The Nude 52!

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Today is the official launch of The Nude 52!

It’s exactly what you think it is: DC superheroes without their clothes on. It’s a silly pun, a creative exercise, a celebration of the human form, and just something fun to do. These pin-ups will range from innocent to a little raunchy, with the main focus on artistic expression and creativity.

I’ll be doing a lot of them myself, but to make it more fun for everyone I’ve also opened it up for other artists to contribute, and I’ve already received a few great pieces, the first of which is posted today. (There are instructions on the web site for artists who want to participate.) I’ll be posting one new drawing each week … for a year.

So far we have drawings of the Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Coming up in the next couple weeks are Robin and Lobo. Other characters on the drawing table include Power Girl, Kamandi, Green Lantern John Stewart, the Doom Patrol, and the Legion of Super Heroes!