BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #67 – Belasco is in da house! – PART 2

Hey Gang…

Thanks for your patience in awaiting the second part of Belasco’s interview. It’s been a pretty hectic January. LOL!!! So here is part 2! Enjoy!

BOYTOONS MAGAZINE: You regularly participate in the Tom of Finland Erotic Art Shows in Los Angeles and sometimes in New York. How is your art received at those shows, and what are the fans like? In what ways do you find that it is a good way for artists to network together and get in touch with their fans?

BELASCO: Well every year I reserve a space, and every year, right before the event, I swear never to do another one because I get very nervous about exhibiting. Then I go and have a great time meeting people and talking to the artists, so overall I love the event. I’ve attended so many of them it’s usually like old home week seeing everyone again and catching up. I would say my reception at the New York show is ten times more enthusiastic. I don’t know if it’s that New Yorkers just ‘get’ me better, or what. But they tend to really be responsive and also willing to buy originals, which usually isn’t the case at the Los Angeles event. Overall, the Tom of Finland foundation has been more than great to me. They were helpful in me making the connections I made to get more exposure. I do wish they would do a more focused effort to recognize the homo -erotic cartoonists and graphic novelists out there. At this point, we have enough to hold our own event! I do think it will happen though.

BTM: What was your first published work and in what publication did it appear? How was that experience for you? And looking back on things, is there anything about that experience that has stayed with you and better prepared you for future projects?

BELASCO: My very first published work appeared in a gay club magazine called “Thing”. It was actually a very dirty illustration I did on a birthday card for my best friend. It was a black orgy scene and at the last moment I signed “Belasco” instead of my slave name. LOL. Anyway, he worked on the magazine at the time and showed it to the publisher and he printed it in an issue. Well the issue did really well and my artwork started making waves. That was the first time I saw my erotic art in print and I was hooked. After doing art for that and another magazine called “Shade”, it wasn’t long before I published my first chap book called “Belasco 1: Lust for Sale”. The main thing I learned from my first publishing experience was that people actually liked my work and thought it was art. Something that I was compelled to do had resonance with people. That was a powerful and addictive feeling to know that your work makes a difference in the way someone else feels. That it brings them pleasure and they see all kinds of meaning in it that wasn’t intentional is very deep to me.

BTM: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as an artist of gay male erotic comics?

BELASCO: Probably the biggest challenge I face is finding a way to capitalize on my exposure. I have a demanding day gig that I like so it has always been an issue of how much time to devote to Belasco. I’ve had several false starts at trying to run a consistent publishing venture but having my attention divided like it currently is just won’t allow me to do Belasco art to the level I envision. Yet. That’s one of the things that astounds me about you, Patrick. You seem to have a handle on the art vs. commerce equation that is so elusive to so many artists. I’ve really excited about the things I see coming from Class Comics! Also the fact that you seem pretty selfless in your support and promotion of other artists is a great thing!

BTM: I have often said that one of the most frustrating things about being an artist of gay male erotic comics is that the genre is not widely respected by either mainstream comics artists or worse still, by fellow gay artists who create their art on canvas rather than in comic pages. Do you also find this to be so, and do you think that artists who have made a name for themselves in the field of gay male erotic comics could ever gain their due respect from their non comic peers?

BELASCO: Well, I don’t really worry about mainstream comics because after dabbling in it in the early days of my art career, I don’t have a burning desire to do them like I used to. And erotica, gay or straight, isn’t very well received in the mainstream comics community so I don’t give them any energy. As far as being a gay erotic artist dealing in cartooning and comics, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a bigger push to bring our work to the attention of a bigger audience. But I’m used to cartooning and comics being looked down upon by the greater artistic community. The ironic thing about the gay erotic art thing is that the king of gay erotic art, Tom of Finland, did comics! It just seems we’re kind of the red headed step-child when it comes to gay art. I really believe that it’s because we make what we do look easy. And again, the bias against comic book style art goes back to the creation of comics. Will it change? I think it will.

BTM: To this day, the Brothers of New Essex remains one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. Can you tell us a little bit more about the Brothers of New Essex and how that collection came about? Did you always plan to release the material as a compilation, or did you select specific works for the project?

BELASCO: I don’t remember exactly how they contacted me. It perhaps was from seeing my stuff in GBM, but an editor at Cleis Press, Don Weis, called me out of the blue and said they’d like to publish a collection of my artwork. I agreed and it was a very heady experience. Before they called me, I didn’t even think I had enough to make a full collection. I sent them pretty much everything I had published up to that point, and they picked the stories that worked best for them out of all the chap books I had published up til then. The funny thing is that ‘Brothers of New Essex’ is maybe 40% of my full output. I have a lot of stories that haven’t been published yet or only had very limited runs.

BTM: A good deal of your art has appeared in the Meatmen Anthologies. How did that all come about and how did this help to further get your work out there?

BELASCO: Winston Leyland, the publisher, contacted me and asked to include me. I don’t remember when exactly. It was simple as that.

BTM: So we have talked about your comics and your life drawing, but upon visiting your Blog I was also BLOWN AWAY by your skill as a sculptor. I am always so amazed by artists who can bring their creations to 3D life since I can’t sculpt to save my life. What motivates you to create these amazing works of art? Do you have any plans to focus on sculpting on a more regular basis and to make these works available for sale? Or are they uniquely for personal enjoyment? Can a fan commission a sculpture from you?

BELASCO: My main motivation for those sculptures was quite honestly stress! I had been in a car accident a few weeks before I did my first sculpt. I had always sculpted before but always small figurines, and only sporadically. Well, after the accident, even though I wasn’t hurt physically, I was stressed out beyond belief to the point where I was actually not sleeping very well. Well, when I can’t sleep, I tend to create. So I started sculpting. The main difference was that these sculptures were a lot bigger. Anyway, over the span of four months I sculpted around 12 full sculptures. It was a crazy time. As things resolved themselves with the accident, my sculpting leveled off.

That’s also around the time I started my Blog to kind of focus all this stress I was experiencing in a constructive fashion. I do plan on doing more sculpting though but of course, now I’m working on a larger scale. Currently I’m sculpting a 3 ft figure in paper mache and art foam. It’s taking a lot longer, but I have tons of ideas for more. As far as making them available for sale, most of the ones on the Blog are for sale, but since they’re one of a kind, they are kind of pricey. I’m asking in the 750$ to 1000$ range for them depending on the scale. I think because they represent a very trying time in my life that I made a positive out, I’m reluctant to part with them. I’ve very bad with selling originals. I’d much rather reproduce the piece as a print or a resin cast of a sculpt and sell that affordably. But I’m learning to get over that. I sold the original cover paintings I did for the B-Boy Blues series of books by James Earl Hardy and there isn’t a day goes by that I wish I hadn’t sold them! Lol!!

BTM: You accept commissions, and from reading through your Blog, I saw some gorgeous proof of that! What sort of projects do you accept and are there specific criteria that the commissions have to meet before you will even consider doing them?

BELASCO: With commissions it just depends on whether it interests me or not. I don’t like to be micro-managed over a piece and I don’t like to be dictated every detail in a piece. Give me a basic topic and let me go to town. The curse and/or blessing of a day job that I like is that I don’t have to take commissions and so if I’m going to spend my spare time doing artwork, I need it to be something that I can personally get off on myself. The samples of commissions I have on my Blog happen to focus on foot fetish, which most followers of my work know is one of my ‘thangs’, so doing commissions like that can be fun for me.

BTM: Well my friend, it has been a real pleasure having you talk a little bit about yourself and your art for all of us here at BTM. In closing I was wondering, what words of wisdom do you have for emerging artists of male erotica? What are the Belasco “do’s” and “don’t’s”?

BELASCO: Oh, Lord…I could go on all day about that. Let’s see..

Do:

Believe in yourself and your artistic vision.

Do develop decent work habits to allow you to create even when you don’t ‘feel’ like it.

Do teach yourself how to draw and from many different sources.

Do draw, draw, draw!

Do stay up to date with the latest technological advances and software that can make creating easier.

Do set general goals and then specific pie in the sky goals. As you mark the general goals off your list, the specific ones start becoming a reality.

Do remember that there were great artists before you and there are great artists being born every hour, so…

Don’t:

Get a big head.

Don’t sell yourself short, but do price things realistically if you’re just starting out.

Don’t wait to be ‘discovered’. You make your own destiny. Get out there and get your stuff seen.

And…

Don’t let fear
of not paying a bill keep you tied to a job that doesn’t fulfill you. Be willing to take a chance on your talent and dreams.

Thanks, Patrick!

Again, I think you’re doing a lot for homo-erotic cartoonists with this great site and your comic book company. F*** the mainstream! (Unless it’s a comicbook with Luke Cage doin’ The Falcon! )

BTM: It was a pleasure, Belasco! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I and the readers really appreicate it a lot!

So there you have it gang, straight from the artist’s mouth! Be sure to check out Bleasco’s Blog for more info on this fantastic artist — and be sure to check out all the cool merchandise you can get your hands on featuring Belasco’s HOT HOT guys!

See you soon!
Patrick XOXOXOX

All illustrations © Copyright 2007 Belasco. All Rights Reserved. Reposting of these images without permission is STRICTLY prohibited.

Comments

  1. Hi Patrick – hey Belasco,

    just awesome! Man, I never knew there was such a wealth of extraordinarily gifted erotic artists in the Internets today. Thanks for continually posting this awesome stuff, Patrick.

    Belasco, I found Your art some months ago (I’m a noobie, can You tell??) and I think it’s extreeeeemely sexy and beautiful. I especially like the way You can tell a story: It’s not just “simple” sexy drawings put together, it’s more and I totally love the way how You depict the sexy situations that You put Your characters into!

    Thanks again – You guys rule my little world.
    All the best to Y’all and to hiroke, manny (godammnit, where is he???), Fraz, Alexis, everybody in here!

  2. João Baptista says

    These draws put Us always in Hot mode

  3. Hey Patrick and Belasco. I meant to comment on the 1st part of the interview but blogger has been acting funny on my machine.

    Thanks for sharing, Belasco. Reading about your life and career in the bizz is very inspiring. The next time there’s a TOF fair in NYC, I’ll have to go becasue I’d love to meet u in person.

    And thanks Patrick for asking all the right questions. BTM is and has been one of my most useful pieces of reference when it comes to art. Everytime I check it, my thought process is, “wow… people are doing good gay art and people out there like it… GOTTA WORK ON ISH 3!!” haha. take care.

  4. Hey fellas… thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this interview with Belasco! The man is a genius and true gentleman. It’s so nice to see that you all appreciated reading the article.

    Phrog… I am so pleased you enjoyed Belasco’s interview. You are correct that there is a refreshing rawness to his art style. It’s urban feel is so hot and real! Thanks you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on his work and style with all of us here! Much love, dear friend! XOXO

    João Baptista… thanks so much for stopping by my friend. Your comment was much appreciated! And it sounds like Belasco’s art is having exactly the right effect on you! HA! HA! HA! All the best to you! XOXO

    JC… I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this interview! I am so pleased that you enjoyed it. I am also really glad to see that you felt the questions I asked were on the money. I wanted to be sure to cover stuff that people might not already know about this great artist. It’s nice to see that that kind of worked! Thanks so much for your comments, my friend. I am sure that Belasco also appreciated them!

    And yeah… you have to get back to work on Anti-Heroes #3. I personally am DYING to get my hands on the issue…and then there is all your fans! We’re all really looking forward to more Caleb, Tai and Zeke… LOL!!! Much love to you my friend!

    Patrick XOXOX

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