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September 26th, 2021

Storyboarding Flirting That Isn’t Flirting Because We’re Not Gay Really We’re Not


For the first time ever I’m pretty sure, I’m going to have to storyboard this next episode before I begin working on it. I have a clear idea of what happens in it, and a clear idea of how I want to do it. What I don’t have, unusually for me, is a clear idea of how it will look when it’s finished.

I posted a link a while ago to an article about people who either have, or don’t have, a “mind’s eye”. That is, the ability to visualize something entirely in your head. I have a good one…maybe too good for my own good because ever since I was a kid I could just disappear into it whenever the world was making me hurt, or boring me. I joke that tuning out the world was a trick I learned in Vacation Bible School, but actually while I may have perfected it there, I was already doing it by the time I had to attend.

So I almost never do preliminary drawings of anything. I think about it and by the time I begin to work I can see it so clearly there are actually times when I haven’t bothered producing something because after I’d drawn it in my mind I didn’t like it.

The extent of preliminary work on A Coming Out Story has been my scripting it. I’ve had to do that to make sense of a story so big (33 episodes plus intermissions so far and I’ve still got a long way to go). While I’m scripting I’m visualizing it. I don’t really need to storyboard.

But this time I do because I want to try something a bit clever with it. The new title is Flirting In Denialville. How do you get across visually, in cartoon form, two teenagers struggling with how to get it across that they’re attracted to each other, while at the same time in denial that they are exactly that?

I think I know. But it took a Lot of thinking it out…trying this scenario and that. And I still need to storyboard it to convince myself that it’s going to work. This Isn’t Asking For Advice. I’m just saying this is why I’m doing the storyboard. It’s something I’ve never had to do before which is why I’m talking about it here. Often I blog just to get my thoughts in order. Or something approximating order.

Notice the panels are separate little squares of drafting paper. I may need to move things around a bit before I have it to my satisfaction.

What I’m looking forward to in retirement is having more time to do this sort of thing. Tomorrow it’s back to the office.

PS… The mushroom is an incense burner. It puts me in a 70s mood…

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 5th, 2020

Trying To Maintain A Head Of Steam…

Starting the pencils on episode 31. Once again it’ll just be three strips, four panels each. Maybe if I just treat it like it’s a paying job I might get these done sooner. I want to get all three in this story arc finished by year’s end…which is just a few weeks away so maybe that’s a tad optimistic. The pencils are the most difficult part for me, since I’m really just a self trained hunt and peck draftsman. But mostly…I’d say four fifths of it, is overcoming my self doubts and just doing the work. Once I get into it and build up a head of steam for it, I can bang things out pretty well. The electric eraser (off panel in this photo) does get a lot of work though.

I have a template that gives me the size of each strip, and grid lines for two, three and four panels to a strip. I have saved line art that’s just the two, three and four panel frames, that I copy over to the working line art file after I’ve scanned in the line art and copied it over to a master image file. If the panels are oddly sized I tweak it in GIMP using a transform tool that lets me extend or compress the panel sizes.

I’ve got all this down to a pretty uniform workflow, which is what made moving it over to GIMP a stressful process. But it turned out not to be so bad after all. Just a few tweaks to it and I’m back in business.

[Update…] Well well…I got the first strip pencils done…generally. There are still details to flesh out, but the essence of it is done. Took about two hours.

I need to remember this. I can do the work in a reasonable amount of time. Most of the time between episodes of this story has been dallying because I’m afraid of not being good enough to draw anything but crap.

Well…and not being able to figure out how to tell parts of it…

And it’s true that some of what I’ve drawn in past years I’m appalled to look at now. But that’s normal. You get better at a thing the more you do it. At this stage of my life I’m doing some of the best artwork I’ve ever done. I really need to stop being afraid that I’m no damn good.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trying To Maintain A Head Of Steam…

July 12th, 2020

More Sexy Sketching

Getting better and better with Procreate. Here’s one I just finished this morning. A fantasy hiking companion…


Managed to finally hike all the way to the Maryland/Pennsylvania boarder yesterday. Today I’m stiff as a board. I think at my age I need to be more religious about doing the stretching exercises my cardio therapists are teaching me.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on More Sexy Sketching

May 2nd, 2020

How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys Wearing Glasses In X Easy Steps…(continued)

I think I’m pretty well done with the blue ink roughs on the figure. I had his body shape wrong due to putting the book in place before I’d finished with the rest of him and it confused me a tad. The solution was to put the book on its own layer I could switch off and on as I worked on drawing him.


Procreate has a nice perspective grid you can switch on and set vanishing points for. It’s going to help a lot as I draw the bookshelves he’s leaning against. 

Wow…the JPEG artifacts here are really annoying. But I’m just posting these to share my process with whoever stumbles onto this blog. When I post a finished piece I’ll use a better compression algorithm.  

Probably get the inks on the figure done, or close to it, tomorrow. I haven’t decided on a title for it yet.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys Wearing Glasses In X Easy Steps…(continued)

How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys Wearing Glasses In X Easy Steps

Well…okay that How To Draw…thing is a bit of a running gag around here and this is a more serious attempt to to do some quality sexy sketching, and keep my mind occupied on something other than how quarantine is making it sadly obvious that I need a road trip Now and I Can’t Go Anywhere!

This one’s going to take a while like the last one did, because the plan here is he’s leaning up against a huge set of library shelves. Dozens and dozens of books. It’s the sort of drudge work I dislike because it gets so boring and I get impatient and then I get sloppy. So I’m trying also to consider this an exercise in artistic self discipline. 

I’m being a tad more Safe For Work here on these than I’ve occasionally been here on the website because I’m also sharing these to my Facebook page, and so they’ll probably show up in co-workers screens. They all know I’m gay, and my employer is fantastic about supporting their LGBT employees, nobody really cares. I’m just trying to stick to a line I’ve drawn about my sexy sketching for the time being so I can freely share. But deep down it’s also, maybe mostly, about my getting more comfortable being an out gay man.

You’d think by now that wouldn’t be an issue, but I came out to myself in the early 1970s, and it’s been a struggle all my life to simply give myself permission to be me. I gain a little more ground every year but it’s never the whole of it. Gay kids of my generation had to hide their desires. The adults we grew into have had to work and freeing themselves from that ball and chain ever since. My cartoon series A Coming Out Story is about the beginning of that struggle. I’m 66 now and it never has ended. I’m actually feeling proud of myself sharing these on Facebook with Everyone and shining a small light on this part of me unafraid (mostly). 

Also, it Is fun to walk up to the line and not go over it. I would much rather be teased than have my buttons pushed.

It’s too late for me to have the young adult life I should have had, that we all should have had. But I can at least nod to it from time to time, look back and relive the wonder of discovering the beauty of men.  Well…of a certain sexy to me type…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys Wearing Glasses In X Easy Steps

May 1st, 2020

Sexy Sketching…(continued)

Finished. On to the next one tomorrow. But must mow the lawn first…


You can go back through the sequence of these and almost see my desperate hunt and peck, erase, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw technique. I will frequently draw something one evening that I am thoroughly satisfied with, that upon viewing the next morning looks completely wrong. Once I drew a figure seated at a park bench with his legs crossed and I gave him backwards left/right feet by mistake and didn’t see it for a couple days. Luckily I was in the stage of things where I was adding colors to it in the computer and I was able to fix it. But the inks in traditional media still have that mistake in them.

This is why cartoonists don’t always sell or give their originals away.

This is helping me stay sane during quarantine. When the abyss stares back into you, shout beauty back.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sexy Sketching…(continued)

April 29th, 2020

Probably Not Quite As Safe For Work As The Others…

This one’s probably not as safe for work as the others. But I’m dealing with quarantine and a variety of other things I won’t bring up now and I reckon I’m just more willing to share this side of me and my artwork than usual. Hopefully everyone who can’t handle that Bruce is gay and likes guys is already out of my life (Hi Glenn!), or has already defriended me on Facebook (Hi Burt!), and this is about as brazen as I get artistically anyway.


He’s looking out into a bright sunny dawn, from inside a darkened old stone building. This is going to take some more work than the others, so probably won’t be finished with it for several days. I actually have to spend most of my awake time teleworking until the weekend.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Probably Not Quite As Safe For Work As The Others…

April 28th, 2020

Quarantine Drawing To Anchor Myself In Life

Well this one’s done…


I think I’m really warming now to the advantages of digital media. And I’m actually getting comfortable with the tactile feel of drawing on a glass iPad screen. I didn’t think that would be possible.

Probably start another one tomorrow. That’s a Jackson Pollock bandana he’s sporting. In color while the rest of him is grayscale because I do that mixing up color and grayscale when it works for me. Have I mentioned how much I hate that damn hanky code?

If you were to ask me why I’m doing these just now, and if I was still religious, I’d refer you to the morning headlines and the daily death toll, then point to this one and say that beautiful guys are my proof that, despite everything, God is good. Well I’m not a believer anymore and haven’t been for decades now, but I can still say they’re my proof that life is good and worth living despite everything in it that makes you hurt. Like the daily death toll from COVID-19. Like Trump and his death cult republican base. I very much need these proofs.

In my worst jags of cynicism and pessimism I never expected to see the human depravities I’m seeing now. Not even during the AIDS plague when they were all but openly rejoicing in our suffering and dying. They’ve gotten worse since then. So I draw beauty. When the abyss stares back into you, answer it with beauty.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Quarantine Drawing To Anchor Myself In Life

April 27th, 2020

Further Sexy Sketching In Lieu Of Climbing The Walls…

Doing another one….

No go-go boots this time. I’ve moved on.

These are coming out of me pretty easily now. I seem to be doing more work than usual at the kitchen table lately. Possibly because the iPad is easy to use here whilst snacking out. More probably because the basement isn’t really a good place for an art room as its only light is from the ceiling fluorescents. But I have no other place in the house to put it. There is no sunlight. And the bar is way too nearby. That’s really not a good atmosphere to be creative in. Unless maybe you’re a detective novel writer.

The kitchen seems to be my hangout when I’m not teleworking. But I’m beginning to appreciate why Van Gogh once said it was either paint or go mad. But then he went mad anyway, so there’s that.

I’m going to make his bandana a tie-dye just to confuse everyone…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Further Sexy Sketching In Lieu Of Climbing The Walls…

When Your Own Artwork Makes You Nervous Despite How Tame It Is

Opening banner for something I’ve been working on for well over a year now…

I should try to finish this, since I’ve been working on it for nearly two years now. Thing is I keep seeing panels I hate and I have to do them over again and I get discouraged.

Bear with me here please…

There’s an element of risk in giving the world a glimpse of your libido, which I suppose is why most writers of erotic fiction use pseudonyms. It’s especially true if your libido tacks in a different direction from most. I suffer here from a double penalty of both being gay, and being an American gay male who isn’t all that into guys that look like they model for superhero comics. It makes me nervous even talking about it. Yet I spent my formative adolescence on a diet of underground comix, men and women who were heroically…some might say a little Too heroically…willing to honestly write and draw about human sexuality and their own specifically. Howard Cruse is one of my heros in that regard, but there were so many others that gifted their talents and insights to Gay Comics. Even so I’ve struggled with how transparent to be in A Coming Out Story.

My initial concept of the character that represents my libido was he would simply be…in the underground comix tradition…a naked me. I tried drawing that over and over and was never comfortable with it. I just couldn’t do it. And then I thought…wait…that’s truth. And the first four episodes came immediately to mind, and I knew I had something I could go with. This is why the libido character is always wearing a fig leaf. As he says in that first episode “I’m your libido, not Robert Crumb’s libido.” Truth.

So I’m not the most brazen of cartoonists (my mild mannered fig leafed libido is a running gag in the story), which means I get nervous whenever I venture into this territory. Whenever I attempt something like You Can Leave Your Hat On (it’s a riff on a song by Randy Newman…the banner here is a riff on R. Crumb’s Keep On Trucking comic (which he now hates) which was itself a riff on a blues song Truckin My Blues Away by Blind Boy Fuller) I have to get the artwork as right as I can. That way if it provokes jeers I can shrug them off because I’m satisfied I got it right.

Some years ago I showed a cuteness I’d drawn to a gay guy I no longer hang out with, who cracked that he looked like he was one estrogen shot away from a job at Hooters…

Which only goes to show that even gay guys can be sexist jackasses. People like that are why males blessed with that beautiful angelic face often have a bad attitude about it.

Thing is, even allowing for the misogyny of it, there is still the coarseness by which people draw their lines around what is male and what is female. You’d think gay folk of all people would know better, yet I have been asked repeatedly (by that those same guys I no longer hang out with) if I’m really gay because the guys my libido alerts on just aren’t ripped enough, look too feminine, just aren’t manly enough.

Much of this is gay guys reclaiming their masculinity from a culture that blasts a torrent of abuse at gay males over gender conformity. So I get that pushing back thing. But I’m a solid Kinsey 6 regardless of what you think of my tastes in men. In A Coming Out Story episode 20, I have this argument with my libido who assures me that “You like Y chromosomes, just not the big overly muscled ones.” The punchline is when he asks me about photographing the next swim team meet. Even in some gay circles that kind of thing makes me weird. Hey guys…we’re gay…we’re all weird by the majority’s reckoning. Get effin over it!

So…anyway…I was struggling with this one because while I knew exactly what I want it to be I could not get comfortable with making it as sexy as I needed it to be to get my point across. For a while I was going to really go for it on this one and make it completely not safe for work…and I just couldn’t. But I think I know now how to walk right up to that line and still get my point across.

And yes..that’s Mr. Short-Shorts and Go-Go Boots. I first drew him around the same time as I heard You Can Leave Your Hat On played at a club in Laurel where I went to see classmate Rev. Billy Wirtz play. I assumed it was about a straight guy talking his girlfriend into dancing naked for him, but there was a lyric that jumped out at me…

Suspicious minds are talking
Trying to tear us apart
They say that my love is wrong
They don’t know what love is
I know what love is…

That spoke to me, obviously, as a gay man. And then this entire cartoon…mostly…came to mind. When it happens like that I know it’s something I have to get out of me. But this one’s been a struggle. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Your Own Artwork Makes You Nervous Despite How Tame It Is

April 25th, 2020

Sexy Sketching – A Bit More Work On It

More progress at the breakfast table…

Whenever I do one of these I keep thinking about a cartoon R. Crumb did in “XYZ Comics” back in the day, that had a panel in it of him drawing (it looked like he was using an old Rapidograph) one of his sexy ladies (he had a very distinctive type of full figured gal he liked) with a caption to the effect that he drew to get the objects of his desire. But I suppose we all do that. Look at this…

This is the sculptor Luo Li Rong and one of her works. This isn’t just an artistic reverie on the female form. Check out some of her other work. That’s a muse. Those pieces of hers ache with desire struck awe.

I will never be near that good. But I have my muses. They keep me feeling alive.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sexy Sketching – A Bit More Work On It

April 24th, 2020

Sexy Sketching…Quarantine Climbing The Walls Edition

Plinking around with Procreate on my iPad Pro, to keep my mind occupied and myself from climbing the walls during quarantine. It’s bad enough we have to severely limit our outside travels, but it’s been raining almost daily here in central Maryland and that’s been keeping me indoors far too much. So I really need to keep my mind occupied with Something.

And what better something than sexy sketching, I ask you…

I do confess that skin tight short shorts and go-go boots thing the ‘phobe was going on about a couple years ago still intrigues me. I could muse on this for hours. Days even.

[Update…]  I went back and revisited that blog post from July 4, 2018 (“I Get My Best Ideas From Homophobes!”) and discovered the correct quote was “skin tight short-shorts and go-go boots”. I didn’t get it quite right when I posted this sketch to my Facebook page, probably because the “skin tight” part goes without saying.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sexy Sketching…Quarantine Climbing The Walls Edition

May 29th, 2019

After Work At The Drafting Table

Just whiling the after work time away on my iPad Pro yesterday…

…in between working on the backyard deck, which is turning into an all-summer project. 

In another Facebook group I follow, dedicated to the underground comix of the 60s and 70s, I recently saw one of R. Crumb’s cartoons where he obsesses over his “ideal” female form and then another where he starts beating himself up over the fact that he just can’t stop his libido from doing that to him and what goddess would want him anyway…and so forth. The running joke in A Coming Out Story is how low key and apologetic my libido is, almost the complete opposite of Crumb’s, and yet still manages to be totally relentless and thoroughly single minded about it. So I thought to try my hand at a cartoon about that while riffing off one or two of Crumb’s. 

Still working on the figure above…I might give him a hat like the one a bartender at a local eatery I favor, who I can’t stop gawking at any better than Crumb could, wears. Also maybe a bandanna hanging out of one of his back pockets. If I manage to get it finished I’ll post it here.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on After Work At The Drafting Table

November 24th, 2018

Even Gay Boys Get The Blues

A classmate embarked long ago on a career as a blues keyboardist and singer. These days he goes by the stage name Reverend Billy C. Wirtz and last night I got to catch his act live for the first time, along with another classmate I hadn’t seen in ages. First of all, the Reverend is Amazing. He does a great blues keyboard with a side of comedy and servings of blues history. I would definitely go see him again when he’s in town, and I think you should too.

The spot I saw him at was a small restaurant bar venue in Bowie Maryland, and it turned out that Reverend Billy was the between sets act for the main event which was an almost big band blues group named The Rick Jones Music Emporium. I would definitely go see them again too, but with a set of earplugs because their sound guy likes it LOUD. They played a set of blues songs, some of which were pretty risque to an older and obviously heterosexual crowd that just ate it all up. They were having a good time. Meanwhile I did what I always do in those situations, mentally swapping out a pronoun here and there to make it something I could relate to.

There was one song in particular that gave me some ideas for sexy drawing, along the lines of the one I did following California Rep Ted Hickman’s crack about skin tight short-shorts and go-go boots…

I was going to get down to it today, but first I wanted to read the lyrics again. What I discovered was it was a Randy Newman song. I came to know and appreciate Randy Newman through his wonderful movie scores for Avalon and Pleasantville, but I knew he also did pop songs. I would not have recognized this one as one of his, but then it was hard to hear the lyrics in that venue because the room was small and their sound guy just blasted us with it.

When I read the lyrics I saw a passage that spoke to me as a gay man and I didn’t expect that. So I re-read the lyrics again as if they were speaking directly to me. Well…not Me specifically since I have no boyfriend and never have. But to something I actually thought I might have someday when I was a younger man. And yes…actually reading the lyrics you could see it was a Randy Newman song. And it could just as easily have spoken to a heterosexual who’d found their other half despite what the rest of the would thought of it. Or anyone in a variety of sexual and romantic spectrum. Which I think is what really made it a Randy Newman song. He isn’t about shutting people out of life’s joys. People who got pissed at “Short People” weren’t paying attention.

I’m not going to name that song just yet…if you already know which one I’m talking about, fine, but for those of you that don’t I’d rather let you discover it just the way I did. I thought I was just going to do a one-off sexy riff on this song, mostly on its title. But now I have to do another one-off multi-panel cartoon on it. Probably can’t post it to my Facebook page when I’d done because as I said the song was kinda risque. But that’s why I still maintain my own website. And I’ve been wanting to do more of this sexy guy anyway. I’m thinking it along the lines of a page Robert Crumb did, that so I’m told he hates now because it’s been copied and misunderstood for decades…that Keep On Trucking one. Each panel of it is captioned with a single line from a song by Blind Boy Fuller. Something along those lines. Not the entire song, just maybe four panels with a line or two from the song and a drawing above it that says how the song made me feel about the joy of love and sex and life that lots of us of my generation might have had in a better world that never was. You can loose yourself in a song, in the world it spins for you, and believe for a moment that it was real.

This may take a few weeks. Let you know when it’s done and posted. I might even post some of the pencils while I work, like I did for that retort I made to Ted Hickman.


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Even Gay Boys Get The Blues

July 6th, 2018

I Get My Best Ideas From Homophobes…(continued)

Further refinement of the sketch I posted the other day.  I’m experimenting with Procreate’s charcoal effect brushes. This was mostly done with the Willow charcoal stick. The boots were done with the medium charcoal block. I used the dry ink brush to ink over the technical pencil sketch lines.

I’m actually coming to like this mode of sketching and drawing now. It’s still a little clumsy to me because I’m still having to break concentration every now and then to find a functionality I need right then. And the tactile feel of drawing on glass still seems very weird. I’m never quite sure then I put the stylus down where the mark will appear. But I’m getting more use to it and for a hunt and peck draftsman like myself it’s very nice to be able to draw, erase, draw, erase, draw, erase, and not worry about digging a hole in the paper.


…and once again…Thank You Ted, for the Motivation I really needed!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Get My Best Ideas From Homophobes…(continued)

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