BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #52 – Strange Love – The Art of Michael Kirwan.

Several years ago I came across a posting at a Yahoo group whose primary focus was to share the art of gay erotic illustrators. The posting came from a disgruntled member who was complaining about the inclusion of illustrations created by artist Michael Kirwan. His complaint was that they were depictions of ugly people having sex, and this apparently offended his fragile sensibilities. This member went on to express that only pretty people should be shown having sex. Well, everybody is entitled to their opinion! Mine is that this was a terribly offensive comment to make, in more ways than one.

No one can deny that some of Michael Kirwan’s images are strange, but one has but to linger for a few moments to marvel at the amount of love and detail that goes into a single illustration to understand that there is far more at work than meets the eye. Art should be moving. Whether you love it or you hate it, it should evoke some sort of emotional response in you. Erotic art is certainly no different, and it tends to surprise some people to learn that it can do much more than stir your loins when given the opportunity.

Perhaps Kirwan’s work is odd to some because he depicts people as they are in reality. We are not all Greek Gods, but that does not make us any less attractive or sexy. It is actually quite refreshing to find an artist who depicts his subjects as being more realistic and still capable of tremendous sensuality.

But to only appreciate Kirwan for his illustrated artwork would be folly, because this is a man of MANY talents. From illustrator to photographer to writer, this is one prolific artist who seems to excel at all he does. His writing is clear and to the point, and has a wonderful personal quality to it. Meanwhile his photography has been included in magazines such as Dude and Honcho to name but a few.

An artist with what appears to be a rather well developed social awareness, he is not shy about expressing his opinions, and you have but to venture to his website to see what I mean!

So for those of you who know Kirwan from his often very colorful illustrations featuring less than model-esque subjects, you may be surprised to learn that this artist has even more wonderful stuff to offer, as if his wonderful illustrations were not already enough.

So yes, Kirwan’s illustrations are sometimes a little strange and unexpected. They may even “disturb” something within you. That’s okay! That’s art, and that’s what art should do. But to dismiss this artist because his Boytoons aren’t outright Adonises would be doing yourself a major disfavor. Instead, I recommend lingering on the true beauty of his art, which is in its energy, virility and the charming realness of his characters.


  1. I’ve always appreciated this guy’s amazing attention to detail. I love that his body types vary. Each character has so much personality.

    Oh, and I love hs colored pencil work. It looks like so much time goes into it.

    Anyhoo– thanks for his link and info– becasue before this, I had a folder on my comp. called “funny colored pencil guys” with a modest collection of this guy’s stuff. Now I have a name and a place to find and oogle more of his stuff!! =)

  2. So, only good looking people should be shown having sex??? What year was this person born, I wonder if he thinks that people born with birth defects should be shot at birth!

    Regardless of what people look like they have sex, it’s been happening since man discovered where to stick his penis to procreate! Makes no matter this person is obivously in a minority and has trouble dealing with reality! As Bette Midler said back in the mid eighties “Ugly women have pussies too!”

    As for Michael’s work, I agree it is somewhat strange, but a real eye opener and reality check and nice to see someone doing what he loves with a style that he comfortable with. Also nice to see that someone still appreciates the traditional way of coloring his art, after all 40 years ago we didn’t have computers to help us and we all had to learn to color in with pencils as children. I think his work is fun!


  3. Damian & Trent says

    One of the first artists we came to recognize was Michael Kirwan, because his work is way unique and cannot be confused with anyone else’s. Part of the uniqueness is style, part is execution, and, maybe mostly, part is conception. The situations his guys are in are original. Some of his guys are a little “ugly”, whatever that means, but some are “normal”, again, whatever that is, and some are pretty hunky. That guy getting a bj under a sheet is NICE! And that sheet!

    MK is a genius.

    Again, thanks, Patrick.

    Damian & Trent

  4. I agree! I have to admit my initial reaction to Kirwan’s work was somewhat surprised and confused, but that was years ago. Since then I’ve really come to appreciate it and find a lot of it to be incredibly erotic and unique. Oh, on a sidenote I saw a Hawkman action figure at my local Hot Topic today and couldn’t help but think of you. It was one of the most detailed and erotic action figures I’ve seen in ages. Every detail down to the nipples was awesome. Funny how you’ve even got me noticing things about action figures I wouldn’t have noticed before, like the use of a seperate color specifically for the nipples and how that can be uncommon. Thanks for always bringing these kinds of things to our attention, Patrick!

  5. It’s funny but, Caroline gets this from ‘purist’ yaoi fans. One went so far as to say her men were ‘painful to look at’. >_>

    Personally, I feel that fans who harbor this notion that all erotic art must have only ‘the beautiful people’ are those who’re so infatuated with 2D arousal, they barely get laid in reality because NO REAL MAN will ever measure up.

    It’s a weird form of sexual geekery, that’s beyond bizarre. It’s extremely prevalent in anime/manga. I’ve seen many fans of yaoi like this; those hot illustrated men never smell, they never have blemishes, fuck-faces, or unattractive body traits [hair/no hair, muscle/no muscle], and they never talk back or do anything other than what the fan wants them to, in his/her own mind. Blech. Fans like this will never appreciate any artist’s personal intent, nor do they care to. They only care about what is appealing to them, and screw anyone artists attempt to reflect their own inner desires, and share them with the world. These people aren’t fans of art; they’re fans of just being turned on.


  6. I always liked how expressive his faces were, certainly a lot of detail to them.
    I also find it a little ironic that the pics chosen were of what would be considered in Mike’s style to be near model quality subjects.

  7. Near model quality…?? Um… okay…

  8. Hiya Folks…

    I love putting an artist on the cover of BTM that makes everyone talk! It’s so great to read all your thoughts and impressions on the artwork and talent being depicted. It seems that Michael Kirwan is one of those artists that makes people think a great deal about the nature of his art and I always find that wonderful!

    JC – I am so pleased I could identify Michael Kirwan for you! The man is brilliant, and I too absolutely adore his work! There is sooooooo much sexiness in his imagery. It is amazing! :o) You are quite correct about each “character” he depicts having a unique personality. So many artists just don’t bother with details like that. It’s like they can only seem to draw one type of body, one type of face. That is what Michael’s work is so fantastic. He goes that extra mile to make sure that each character is his very own entity. It makes his work that much more sexy and real!

    Mr. M – Yup! I share your outrage at what I read years ago being posted to that Yahoo! Group! I couldn’t believe what I was reading. But then, not everyone is respectful of art and of the love and talent that goes into it. My thinking is that Tina’s hit it on the head about the sort of person that might make such a comment. Sad. Very, very sad! I can only hope that since that person has either matured some or gotten a better understanding of sexuality and sensuality… for their own sake!

    You are also right that it is great that Michael uses real paints and other art implements to create his images. Most artists nowadays have switched over to the computer (myself included) to create their work. I believe it is a very valid way of doing things, but once in a while it’s great to come across an artist who still colors by hand!

    Damian & Trent – I truly appreciate your observations, my friends. Yes Michael’s style is quite recognizable, and certainly he is unconcerned with conforming to what society traditionally views as “the ideal male beauty” all the time. Certainly, a lot of his men are very handsome and beautiful… Just look at the Blue Boy that I posted along with his article, or as you say, the men on the bed. EXQUISITE! But again, I think Michael depicts things more as the world really is. Not all men are drop dead gorgeous. Some are average, some are skinny, some are overweight, some are hunky, some are not what one might consider immediately attractive. But in all of them lies that sensuality and sexuality that is completely undeniable. It’s always great to see how he brings that to life in his work!

    Dreamerboy6 – Glad I’ve got you noticing little details like nipples on action figures! LOL!!! I appreciate that sort of detail myself very much! I actually saw the Hawkman action figure I believe you are referring to! YOWZA! That is a sexy Boytoy! LOL!!!

    As for Michael’s work, it is as I said. Some of his depictions take you a little by surprise once in a while, but that is something I love. It’s so much more than just looking at the art. You actually have to take it in and contemplate it! That is way cool, especially in erotica. It’s thought provoking indeed!

    Tina — Lovely to hear form you, and as always you have nailed it on the head! I think you are probably 100% correct about the author of the aforementioned offensive comment all those years ago! It is really sad that some people cannot appreciate the work or motives of an artist, and focus only on the subject of the work. There is so much that goes un appreciated and missed out on, and that is a real shame. But as you said, people like that are not in it for the art. They are in out for the “sexual” factor. Ah well, I believe that there are far more people out there who appreciate the work entirely

    Charvolth – Thank you for the comment, my friend. I must confess, I went for the pieces that appealed immediately to me. They really struck me as being exceptionally lovely, and immediately appealed to my tastes. But then, I have always admitted that the hunky studs and pretty Boytoons are my forte. LOL!!! That is not to say that I don’t appreciate the rest of Michael’s work though, far from it. I guess I just figured that most people reading this article would venture on to Michael’s site for themselves. It’s much more fun that way, and when an artist has such a vast body of work on display at their site, I tend to just select a few pics that I personally adore, and let people discover the res ton their own.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write! I am very pleased you enjoyed the posting. :o)

    Much love to all of you!
    Patrick XOXOX

  9. Everyone has what they regard as an attravtive style, and its what makes an artist unique. Patrick, your boytoons are heaven sent, and I’ve always regarded them in a greek god sense of the word, what men would lust after.
    But Michael Kirwan, his style, which is awesome, goes for the raw sexual aspects of people, well using people that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in a porn movie capasity.

    Mr M hit the nail on the head, why people who arn’t as attractive as a movie star be seen having sex… you know there is once gay porn star I see in clips and on film, his names ‘Titpig’ steve Hurley, and unlike most gay porn stars like in Falcon or Lucas videos, he’s older looking, doesn’t have the most perfect body, and as a very rough look about him, but he never fails to turn me on (By the way, the name ‘Titpig’ is because he has a nipple fetish and tugs at his nipples till their hard and stick right out).

    The thing with sex, people are attracted to all different types, Logan does large men, Kirwan does more of an average guy look, and your Patrick is shapely and greek like, so its what takes out fancy at the end of the day.

    One last thing, what Charvolth said, if this is Kirwan’s near model quality, then I’d like to knew this guys address, lol.

  10. Thank you for all the nice and insightful comments on Michael’s art. Also, thank you for properly crediting the art and providing a link to the website. Of course, it is always nice to be asked before modifying or watermarking the art, but we would have said “yes” (it’s just a bit of courtesy in this digital realm). Michael is proud (and quite adamant) to offer his vast web archive for free viewing, without watermarks, and in hi-rez (whenever possible) to those who enjoy his erotic art. But an artist has to eat and pay rent so it is worth mentioning that Michael’s art is regularly auctioned on eBay under the seller ID “kirwanarts”. I hope you and your readers will continue to visit Michael’s website as it is frequently updated with new works, unearthed works, fiction, and information on gallery exhibits and personal appearances.
    Thank you,
    webmaster for

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