BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #163 – Chatting with Steve MacIsaac!

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A few months ago, Fraser and I had the opportunity to meet artist/writer Steve MacIsaac in person while he was in Vancouver.  This was a great pleasure for me because I had long admired Steve’s work.  He is a gifted writer who has this delicious way of creating beautifully flawed characters that you can’t help but love, and often empathize with.  

His art is striking and bold, and wonderfully unique.  It is immediately recognizable as Steve MacIsaac’s!  It serves as a brilliant accompaniment to his deeply thoughtful scripts. Clearly, this is a creator with great skill and a passion for telling stories that don’t sugar coat the human condition and still manage to arouse us all at the same time. 

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Boytoons Magazine #137 – Dale Lazarov & Amy Colburn talk about Manly!

There has been a lot of buzz on the internet about Manly, Dale Lazarov’s latest project, and it’s no surprise.  This new book follows the success of Manly, Lazarov’s first art book with publisher Bruno Gmunder.  For “Manly”, Lazarov teamed up with Amy Colburn, an absolutely brilliant artist who has brought his touching visions of manlove to beautiful, full color life (the colors in “Manly” are provided by Dominic Cordoba).

Together, Lazarov and Colburn make one heck of a dream team. “Manly” is beautiful, thoughtful and completely engaging.  And it has no words!  A silent comic that is this captivating is a rare thing indeed, but “Manly” leaves it to the reader to imagine the dialog.  The stories, all 3 of them, are quite clear and incredibly charming in their own unique ways, but as the reader, you get the pleasure of making up the words in your own head, which is quite effective and permits you to invest in the stories in a very intimate fashion.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dale and Amy about this wonderful book, which is already available in Europe, and due out in the United States and Canada in November of this year.

BOYTOONS MAGAZINE: “Manly” features 3 silent short stories.  The book speaks quite well for itself, but what led to your decision not to include dialog?

DALE LAZAROV: Even though the decision was made out of the necessity of marketing to multiple audiences who don’t share a common language for erotics, writing gay erotic comics scripts without captions or dialogue had a really powerful impact on both the process and the final scripts.  It pushed me to write stories based on actions and gestures that reveal character as well as sexuality.  Also, it saved me from having to invent sound effects for gay sex. :-D

BTM: Amy, was it a challenge to illustrate a book that you knew would have no dialog?  Was it a bit more pressure knowing that the illustrations would have to convey the mood and themes of the stories so specifically on their own, or did you find it liberating?

AMY COLBURN: Actually, the lack of dialog was nice because I didn’t have to worry about leaving room for it in the panels, or about having the speech balloons cover up an important part of the drawing. I could focus completely on composition. Dale’s scripts are very precise–he writes like he’s directing actors on a stage. I knew that as long as I put the right people in the right place, I’d be okay.

BTM: What was it like for you as an artist, and also as woman to illustrate a book featuring men enjoying men?

AMY COLBURN: This is one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I’ve ever done. It was like taking a crash course in anatomy. Drawing one body well is hard enough–drawing two interacting, with no clothes to hide the mistakes, was unbelievably difficult. But of course, I love drawing men, I love drawing men together, and I love Dale’s scripts, so it was worth the effort!  My biggest fear was that I would draw something really, crazily wrong and not know it. Then Dale would have to explain to me that no, human males are not put together that way.

BTM: So Dale, each story has its own definitive flavor and seems to feature very different guys, which is so wonderful.  Can you tell me a bit more about your approach to each piece?

DALE LAZAROV: The story usually starts with a basic idea that turns me on which usually has, embedded in it, an aspirational aspect as well as an erotic aspect.  The erotic aspect of a story —  for example, in “Clinch”, it’s a hook-up between a new-school Latino boxer and old-school Irish/Italian boxer, woof woof woof!  —   serves as a conduit for emotional and behavioral aspirations that I hope excite the artist into doing exceptional character-based homoerotic art and have a gay-affirming (if not life affirming) effect on the reader.

Skill and excellence in boxing, or any field or endeavor, are exciting and worth aspiring to; you can be masculine but also be tender and generous sexually without a touch of cruelty; you can be masculine and not be attached to performing stereotypical or non-stereotypical gender roles and sex acts or pressuring others to do the same. I feel weird spelling these out as the last thing I want to do is sound didactic; letting the reader intuit, feel or interpret these in the comics is much more satisfying to me.

Just this week I showed MANLY to a close friend who is ADD, dyslexic and not comics-literate; even though I helped him “read” the literal level of the images, he instantly got all the subtleties on his own.  (Oh, yeah, he had a boner, too. :-D ) He noted that two of the pages in “Clinch” have their panel gutters slice images of continuous action (oral pleasure that starts at the nipple and leads down to dick) while resembling the lines of boxing ring ropes at the same time.  (This image of boxing ropes was not in the script but I can see it in the page.)  I don’t want to imply that sex, like boxing, is a competitive sport — it’s collaborative! — but I did want to imply that sex, like boxing, can be a site for skillful engagement between manly, manly men.   :-)

By the way, my friend’s favorite story in the book is “Hot Librarian” but I won’t explain why as that would absolutely spoil the story.

BTM: What was your inspiration behind the stories?  Obviously “Manly” is a fantastic title for a book that features manly guys reveling in the joy of being men, but was there something specific you wanted to convey with the book?  The romantic elements are quite prevalent in the book.

DALE LAZAROV:
Primarily, I want to turn people on and make them feel good in any number of ways. :)  I also wanted to see if I could make hyper-masculine gay porn comics while avoiding the cruelty, ludicrous self-seriousness and sameyness of hyper-masculine gay porn comics, which turns me off a great deal.  Using these tropes to serve an aspirational purpose (as I explained earlier) was the overall means of taking out the parts of the genre that I don’t like while keeping the romance of masculinity in place.   And it IS a romance, just like femme drag is.  Dressing up and playing a tough guy or pretending you’re getting a jailhouse buttfucking until you’re in a stupor is both super-hot AND fun as well as enlivening and intimacy-enhancing in the context of a romantic relationship or sexual friendship built on trust and, ultimately, tenderness and reciprocity.

BTM: Amy, your artwork is so rich, and you not only draw homoerotica superbly, but you also play with comedic elements very well.  What was your favorite part of Manly?  Was there any 1 specific story aspect or character that you enjoyed drawing most?

AMY COLBURN: I had a great time drawing the boxing scenes in “Clinch,” and I loved any scene with Buster (the older boxer) in it because he’s such a sweet character. If I had to pick a favorite panel, though, it would be in “Hot Librarian,” where our hero, dressed in leather, breaks character and gives the big guy a giant, dorky smile. It’s just such a genuine moment. I giggled the whole time I drew it.

BTM: First Sticky and now Manly — both superb!  What are your upcoming projects like, Dale, and can we look forward to more collaborations like “Manly” in the near future?

DALE LAZAROV: I bust out in jazz hands at the mere thought of doing as many books as I can with Amy. But I am being mindful that she is a very busy professional artist in a demanding field.  In other words, I will propose another book to her but not until next spring so she has time to recover from what was a creatively-challenging 2-year project with me.

In the next few years, I have NIGHTLIFE with Bastian Jonsson, which I am hoping to deliver to Gmünder in January.  Delic Van Loond and I are half-way done with FANCY, which we were, until recently, publishing as a webcomic but AdultWebComics.com is now offline.  CHUMS is in the early stages with Foxy Andy as illustrator; he’s just starting to finalize the pencils on the first story. I am waiting for Mioki to finish the sequel to Side By Side so he can collaborate on POWER POP BOYS with me.  At the moment I am waiting for collaborators to come to me rather the other way around so I am not writing new gay comics material at the moment; Mioki approached me about working together so apparently my strategy is working. :)

BTM: Can we look forward to seeing more of your wonderful imagery in future art books, Amy?  Are there any other projects you’d like to share with us?

AMY COLBURN: At the moment, I’m doing mostly non-comic work, but I would definitely like to do comics again in the future. At the very least, I want to put some more pinups out there! I can’t let all that practice go to waste!

BTM: My sincere thanks to you both, Dale and Amy, for taking the time to chat with me and for bringing “Manly” to life!  I wish you all the best with the book and I’m certain it will be a HUGE hit!  Meanwhile, we’re all looking forward to seeing what you creative folks will come up with next!

You can pre-order Manly at Amazon.com and make sure you get yourself a copy of this terrific volume as soon as it becomes available.  Meanwhile, for more info on “Manly“, and other fine titles published by Bruno Gmunder, check this out!

Much love to you all, dear friends.  More from yours truly very soon!
Hugz + Kisses,
Patrick XOXO

MANLY © 2008 Dale Lazarov / Amy Colburn. All rights reserved.