Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Gay Superhero Comics by Josephine Myles

I am soooo excited to have Josephine Myles on the blog today, she is no stranger to Pants Off and it's always a delight to have her here. She is here today talking about her new awesmazing release Handle With Care, which I reviewed previously. Lets give a warm welcome to the fabulous Miss Myles!

Gay superhero comics

I’ve always been drawn to comics—proof I am indeed a geek at heart. However, until I started researching for Handle with Care, I had no idea there was a thriving homoerotic comic book industry out there, and one that had nothing to do with Japanese yaoi manga.

For those of you not in the know, yaoi (or Boy’s Love) comics are written by and for a predominantly female audience and have their own code of conventions, including a highly stylised relationship between seme and uke – literally translated as attacker and receiver. While there are forms of gay manga out there that feature a range of body types and relationships, traditional yaoi is likely to feature lean, adolescent heroes, with the more masculine looking character topping the more feminised one.



I know there are many yaoi fans out there, but I’m not especially drawn to the artwork or stories I’ve sampled so far—I’m very happy to hear your recommendations, though! The yaoi I’ve read just didn’t have the subversive humour and punchy artwork of my all-time favourite graphic novels, such as Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl and Garth Ennis’ Preacher.

When I was coming up with the character of skatepunk delivery boy Ollie in Handle with Care, I knew I wanted him to be an idealist and a dreamer. I just needed to find a way of illustrating this. Inspiration came when leafing through Cali Boys, a book of gay comic book artwork by Joe Phillips. His pictures of attractive young men getting it on had certain similarities to the yaoi tradition, but with a distinctly American flavour. Further online investigation revealed that Phillips has illustrated for various mainstream comic book franchises, including Marvel’s X-Men series.




X-Men ended up having a special place in Handle with Care, as being one of the things Ollie and Ben first bond over. Ollie spots a life-size cardboard cut out of Nightcrawler in Ben’s hallway, and offers to lend Ben his X-Men comics. There were several reasons I chose X-Men rather than some other comic book superhero series. Most importantly, in 2009 Marvel made history for publishing the first mainstream comic to feature two established male heroes kissing on page (Rictor and Shatterstar in X-Factor #45). I also knew that because of the movies, X-Men would be easily recognised by the reader. Finally, I chose Nightcrawler to be Ben’s hallway key holder not only because he’s my favourite character in the films, but because he was played by Alan Cumming—an openly bisexual actor.

Ollie eventually developed into an aspiring illustrator himself, penning pornographic superhero pictures. I was heavily influenced by the artist Patrick Fillion, whose incredibly well-endowed heroes caught my eye. It was really difficult to find any “safe” pictures to illustrate this post, as Fillion revels in explicit detail. Do check out his work if you have any interest in finding out the sort of thing I had in mind for Ollie’s artwork!


There is a huge amount of gay comic book artwork out there, and when funds allow, I hope to be able to build myself up a collection to rival Ben’s DVD stash. For now, though, I’ll be choosing my purchases carefully and taking recommendations for books that combine a strong storyline with great artwork.

What about all of you out there? Do you enjoy comics, or have you never been able to see the appeal? Care to share why?


Handle with Care by Josephine Myles – the blog tour

To celebrate the release of my second novel, Handle with Care, I’m on a two week blog tour. A grand prize will be awarded to a randomly chosen commenter during the tour: an exclusive Handle with Care mug (which I’m happy to post worldwide), and a $25 voucher to spend at All Romance eBooks (or alternative ebook retailer of your choice). I’ll make the prize draw on Wednesday 9th May at 9am (GMT), and will announce the winner on my blog. Visit the tour itinerary for a list of all the stops, and comment on each to increase your chances of winning!

http://josephinemyles.com/published-stories/handle-with-care/the-blog-tour/


Blurb:

The best things in life aren’t free…they’re freely given.

Ben Lethbridge doesn’t have many vices left. After raising his little sister to adulthood, he wasted no time making up for the youth he lost to responsible parenting. Two years of partying it up—and ignoring his diabetes—has left him tethered to a home dialysis regimen.

He can do his job from his flat, fortunately, but most of his favourite things are forbidden. Except for DVD porn…and fantasizing over Ollie, the gorgeous, purple-haired skateboarder who delivers it.

Their banter is the highlight of Ben’s lonely day, but his illness-ravaged body is the cruel reality that prevents him from believing they’ll do anything more than flirt. Not to mention the age gap. Still, Ben figures there’s no harm in sprucing himself up a bit.

Then one day, a package accidentally splits open, revealing Ben’s dirty little secret…and an unexpected connection that leaves him wondering if he’s been reading Ollie wrong all this time. There’s only one way to find out: risk showing Ollie every last scar. And hope “far from perfect” is good enough for a chance at love.

Warning: Contains superhero porn comics and a cute, accident-prone delivery guy with colour-changing hair. Readers may experience coffee cravings, an unexpected liking for bad mullets, and the urge to wrap Ollie up and take him home.

Kindle US: http://www.amazon.com/Handle-with-Care-ebook/dp/B0073WI0ZU/ 
Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handle-with-Care-ebook/dp/B0073WI0ZU/ 
Samhain: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/handle-with-care-p-6754.html

Author Bio:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Jo’s website: http://josephinemyles.com/ 
Email: josephine_myles@yahoo.co.uk 
Blog: http://josephinemyles.com/blog/ 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles 
Twitter: @JosephineMyles



38 comments:

  1. Comics...the last time I read one it was the Dandy -- or maybe the Beano -- and Superman :D More years ago than I'm willing to let on about.
    This is a fascinating post. As always. Thanks Jo.

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  2. I have an unholy love for Preacher.

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    1. Great to find another Preacher fan, Violetta! I just adore Cassidy :D

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  3. Hi Prue! There's definitely a perception that comics are for kids. I've read some very adult comics, though. I expect they've warped my mind in some way...

    Something I found amusing recently was discovering one of my best friends doesn't know how to read comics. She had no idea which way to follow the pictures and the dialogue within the frames!

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  4. I love comics! I just a big kid at heart. :)

    Jase
    vslavetopassionv@aol.com

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    1. I'm not reading much yaoi these days because the often hazy consent bothers me (yes, I know it's usually a metaphor, but even so). On the other hand, there are some gay comics that I just love, and sometimes they're the hottest books of all. (I see scenarios there that I'd love in more m/m or even porn videos, but thus far I've only found them in comics.) Dale Lazarov's STICKY series has no dialogue, but you can still see the intriguing stories unfold in panel after panel of lusciously graphic sex. (He just came out with GOOD SPORTS, which I'm buying shortly, sight unseen.) And the Belgian artist Tom Bouden is not to be missed (though occasionally he lapses into some humor more suited to straight frat boys): his IN BED WITH DAVID AND JONATHAN is just a masterpiece, sweet and witty (there's even a clever Mary Sue gag) and overflowing with insanely hot sex of every permutation. There's a prequel of sorts, MAX AND SVEN, which is generally a sweet and sensitive treatment of coming out but still has some hot moments, especially the bonus strips at the end.

      Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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    2. Hi Jase - there are clearly a lot of us who are big kids at heart. I know I am ;D

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    3. Thank you so much for the recs, Trix. I definitely remember reading about Sticky while researching gay comics, so I'll be checking those out soon - and the others you've mentioned :)

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    4. Happy to do it! I usually don't go for the rugged bear types, but the guys in STICKY still manage to be pretty sexy to me. (The GOOD SPORTS cover has me thinking that Lazarov is going for twinkier jocks this time, which is definitely more my speed.) And the thing I love about Bouden is everybody he draws looks like X-rated Tintin characters...

      --Trix

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  5. I have to admit, I've not read very many Yaoi but I've read a few, and of those few, FAKE is my favorite - hands down. It's about two cops, partners, and how they eventually fall for each other, amidst fighting crime.

    I"m gonna be watching this post for other recs myself :D

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    1. Ooh, I remember you telling me about that one before. I'll have to take a look. I was thinking about it, and have realised that part of my problem with a lot of the yaoi I've seen is that it's monochrome. I really like colour in my comics!

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  6. I love comics and have even tried to draw a few myself. Not with and good results but it was a lot of fun. There's a dearth of well handled gay story lines in main stream comic books. Too often LGBT heroes are retconned into being straight so I'm very excited about "The Pride", a comic about a LGBTTQ team of superheroes, written by Joe Glass from Treorchy and drawn by Gavin Mitchell. I have the first issue and it's great! Fingers crossed they get the funding to make the rest of the series.

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  7. Sadly, I'm not a visual enough person to really appreciate comics and graphic novels. I always miss key elements in the illustrations, and get frustrated there aren't more words! That said, I love the Marvel-type superhero storylines and I'm thrilled so many are being made into films.

    I flirted with yaoi a while back, but the only manga I really got into was Pet Shop of Horrors (which is not yaoi, but is very slashable!). I've also got the whole Sandman series of graphic novels, and it's definitely time for a re-read. :)

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    1. See, you say you can't appreciate the visuals and then you go on to say you've got into Sandman - which to my mind is really heavy on the visuals. Methinks you're more visual than you realise, hon ;D

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  8. I love yaoi, but have a hard time "getting into" comics, mostly because they are serial and were I live are hard to get, it's hard to understand a comic if you're only seeing a little "scene".

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    1. Hi Adriana! I can see that being a real problem if you can't get all the parts. I've always preferred to wait for the comics to be gathered together in a bound edition anyway - they feel more like proper books that way :)

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  9. I tried comics but they don't do anything for me.

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    1. They're definitely not for everyone, are they? I reckon there's probably something out there you'd enjoy, Andrea, as there are so many different genres and styles, but finding it would be the tricky part :)

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  10. I never read them when I was younger but I have picked up a few graphic novels within the last decade or so. The Witchblade series was very well done imo. I have always enjoyed watching the series/movies about different comics. There is a hugs suspension of disbelief but if you can get there you are in for one hell of a ride!

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    1. Hi Kassandra! They often lend themselves well to big screen adaptation, don't they? I've been disappointed by a few, though. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was MUCH better as a comic, IMHO.

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    2. As was WANTED (although James McAlvoy can say sorry to me any day of the flippin' week!!). Don't even get me started on Daredevil and Elektra *eyeroll*. But I think I am a bit on the picky side too. *shrug*.

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    3. It's a fan's prerogative to be picky! I don't mind them changing things, so long as the overall tone, spirit and atmosphere seems to fit. It's when those don't match up to the original I start to get really annoyed.

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  11. I am a great lover of comic books and manga in a general sense - there will *always* be a place in my heart for Marvel, especially the short-but-brilliant Avengers Adventures series - Batman and Watchmen can come too, though I find most of the rest of the DC universe a bit uninteresting.

    I'm really not a fan of the yaoi dynamic and whilst I think it's adorable when more western-style comics make an attempt to go 'oh, but also, some people are gay!', it always feels a bit pasted on. So I go elsewhere for that kind of thing (honestly, I don't need my mass media entertainment to deal specifically with sexuality one way or another. I'd like it if a lot more characters were casually picked out as being queer, but I find there's so often a big song-and-dance about it or they come over as very much token that it leaves a sour taste).

    Still, though, offer me an issue or twelve of Iron Man and I will be lost in that little world for hours :D

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    1. Ooh, Watchmen - now there was a superb storyline! It is a shame when gay characters seem token in any genre/format. I suppose that's why I prefer the gay comics made specifically for a gay market.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Cecilia :)

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  12. I really want to read "Handle With Care Now," it sounds so good. I'll have to put it on my TBR pile... right at the top :)

    I have an almost sickening obsession with superheroes and comic books. Plus I have a vast yaoi collection that cost so much I probably could have put the Kid through college *blush* What I like the most about comic books are the stories, so there are quite a few I give a pass to even if they're visually appealing because they don't have the best writing.

    The best part of comic books has to be the fandoms they build. I also have a lot of fun looking at all the meta posts people make because there's so much I never even noticed about Batman & Robin, lol.

    HarperKingsley0.0@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Harper! I have to agree, the storyline is key, but I do have a weakness for beautiful graphics. When I find them both together, it's a definite hit :D

      I do hope you enjoy the book!

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  13. Comic are not really my thing. When I was younger I devoured Thorgal series, but I'm yet to come to any contemporary comic, especially with gay superheroes, that I like.

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    1. Hi Joanna. I guess they're not for everyone, and there's probably not a lot of point in buying something so expensive if they don't float your boat. I do enjoy a few freebie online comics, though. Have you ever checked out Oglaf? That always makes me laugh!

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    2. I've looked up Oglaf. Nice one, thank you Jo. I've also found another funny online serial - http://www.menagea3.net/. Not m/m, but it features comic geek :D and is really good.

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    3. Thanks Joanna - and I'm glad you enjoyed Oglaf. It's great to find proof that excellent female writers and illustrators are working in the field too :)

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  14. I love comics although I have always been more mainstream, Marvel stuff mainly. I haven't read any gay comics/graphic novels at all.
    I must confess yaoi doesn't appeal to me because of the tight conventions surrounding it. I prefer two strong masculine characters in my relationships, rather than a masculine 'topper' and an effeminate 'taker'.
    Saving those two links you provided for viewing at a more appropriate time (ie not two in the afternoon with a child hovering around!)

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    1. Oh yes - you don't want to go clicking on Patrick Fillion's site with kids around!

      There's plenty of interesting stuff out there, Lillian. The main thing that stops me sampling more of it is the price. It can be risky to fork out that amount on a comic only to discover it's not your thing. I think the "look inside" feature on Amazon is definitely our friend in this case :)

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  15. I've not read any comics, hadn't appreciated how popular they are. Whilst i can't see me reading regularly (i agree with an earlier comment that i prefer the words to paint a picture) i might look at some of the links you mentioned

    Suze
    Littlesuze@hotmail.com

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    1. Hi Suze - I love it when writers paint pictures with words, but I also adore a well illustrated comic. And sometimes the writing in comics is pretty sophisticated. Take a look at Alan Moore's work if you want great storylines :)

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  16. I haven't ever gotten into comics but more because I tend to obsess and would spend way too much money if I ever did :-) I reserve my spending money for books but do like looking at sexy pics! Thanks for the recs.

    smaccall AT comcast.net

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    1. Comics are definitely an expensive obsession to acquire - that's why my collection is currently pretty meagre. I will buy more, though!

      And sexy pics are always good - I'm glad to share :D

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  17. I love comics and manga my favorite yaoi series are Love Mode and Kiss me Teacher(ok this one is more shonen-ai and the drawings start off not as good but the story was hilarious ^.^)

    Lana

    anzuazura at yahoo dot de

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    1. Thanks for the recs, Lana - hilarious is a great recommendation. I do like my stories with a sense of humour :D

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