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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 | React!

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 | React!

April 27th, 2020

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 | React!

December 5th, 2019

The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom

“It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped. Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me. Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy. I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything. Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel. Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”

-British Olympic diver Tom Daley.

What makes me sad reading this: it was 2013 when he told the world this during an interview. I could see reading this as a message in a bottle from someone back in 1971 when I came out to myself. But…2013. Why was this still happening to young people in love in 2013?
 
Why is it still happening? To any of us in love?
 
 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom

April 9th, 2018

The Healing Power Of Love…At Least If You’re Gay…

This comes across my Google news feed today…

How romance can protect gay and lesbian youths from emotional distress

A recent study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds that being in a romantic relationship can help gay and lesbian youth like Pegues feel less mental distress — even more so if they are black or Latino. This contrasts with the fact that, in heterosexual teens’ lives, romance is generally found to cause distress rather than alleviate it.

In fact the study seems to suggest that being in a romantic relationship causes stress for Everyone but gay folk. I’ve no idea why that would be so, unless it’s we have to work harder for it and cherish it more because so many people want to take it away from us.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. -Lao Tzu

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Healing Power Of Love…At Least If You’re Gay…

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