We won’t claim to be connoisseurs of the genre, nor will we claim to have done any deep or extensive research into the chronology of the greater and lesser contributions to this quiet little corner of the gay culture firmament. We will say that we did enough searching to know that there ain’t much out there to LOL about. In fact, only one of the strips below even came close to getting a lawl from our persnickety asses. But comics don’t always seem to be geared just toward laughs (see Family Circus, or Garfield — we’ll take Garfield Minus Garfield any day).
Below, a few of the high- and low-lights.
This strip dates back to 1991, when artist Eric Orner began drawing some frames in the life of a certain semi-buff, semi-insecure, semi-intelligent gay ghetto dweller named Ethan. Ethan has had a number of failed relationships, including a very zeitgeist-y mid-90s affair with an HIV+ guy. He’s also done the yoga thing, made a probably ill-advised foray into feature film, and if we had spent years following the strip we might point to this totally bizarre period in which Ethan began hanging out (*in his mind*) with some gay, green martian named Queelix as the moment when the strip jumped the shark. But hey, Orner, it’s cool. We’re sure it’s insanely hard to keep coming up with new shit to say about the gay single life after 17 years without wanting to kill yourself. So we’ll give you a solid B-.
Michael Lucid of Pretty Things and FreakTV fame has recently been penning these porny comics which all follow the same formula and reach the same laff-track-inducing end. It’s what you’d call the humor of accumulation: in every strip, Riley’s friend Patrique fools him into getting fucked by their appropriately named pal Beercan. It’s sort of like wah-wah-style send up of every hyper-sexed and asinine gay comic strip (see Exhibit C below), except Lucid’s doing it with irony. Therefore we love it, and he gets an A.
Exhibit C: A Couple of Guys
A fella by the name of David Brousseau writes this shitshow of a strip and while he says it’s not autobiographical, ”many of the situations are reflections of the experiences of Dave and his friends.” That said, we barely understand this strip, called ‘Exorcissy.’ Anyway, this would be a good example of where what suffices for “gay culture” makes us embarrassed and ashamed, so we’re going to have to give this a D.
Exhibit D: Dirty Old Lovers
They’re your average middle-aged gay couple: they contribute to society, they go to fancy benefits, they drool together over hot young men, often hit on them, and sometimes do drag, all in a style reminiscent of R. Crumb. The Dirty Old Lovers are actually drawn by one Howard Cruse, and despite his moonlighting doing tired Dr. Laura riffs for The Advocate, we have to say he’s one of the brighter shining stars we’ve come across. A-
Exhibit E: Chelsea Boys
Another 90s-esque entry into the pantheon. What can we say here… the art isn’t bad. The jokes are all pretty much what you’d expect. There’s liberal use of the word diva. They once depicted God as Bruce Villanch on a cloud with a cosmo (scroll down). C+
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