Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Teleny and Camille review by Anthony Glassman
Beautiful men, beautifully drawn
Jon Macy sets his hand to a Victorian classic and a Druid fantasy
by Anthony Glassman
Life is full of odd synchronicities. This review, for instance, was written on May 1, the Gaelic festival of Beltane, and one of the books being reviewed is Jon Macy’s Fearful Hunter issue one, in which a Druid falls in love with a wolf-boy.
For those with oddly photographic memories, Macy contributed one of the most visually striking stories in the second Book of Boy Trouble volume, about the doomed romance of a young man with . . . issues. One of the frames in that story was the most compelling image in the entire book.
In Fearful Hunter, Oisin (pronounced ah-SHEEN) is a young Druid living on the outskirts of town with Tavius, his mentor. Tavius has bonded with a river spirit, Diultach (don’t even try saying it aloud), and Oisin is nearing the point in his training when he will be able to bond with a similar spirit.
Of course, being a gay comic, that bonding involved meaty phalluses and lots of ejaculation, but Macy’s bold lines elevate it beyond the cheesiness inherent in the genre, nearing the iconic imagery of Tom of Finland, only with a more punk-rock aesthetic.
Oisin feels alone, wishing he could find someone to share his yearning. Amusingly, he seems completely oblivious that nearly everyone he encounters is attracted to him, from the young man at the store to the were-fox at the gay bar on the outskirts of town.
After encountering the sleeping wolf-boy, Byron, in the woods, he sees him again in the bar, and using Shea the fox as a scapegoat, he dances with Byron. One thing most definitely leads to another, and the two spend a passionate night together.
Dark clouds, however, are looming on the horizon for the young lovers, as dark clouds are wont to do, and the feces will really hit the fan in issue two.
And Macy promises a back-up story featuring Shea the fox-boy as well.
That is far from all the new material that Jon Macy has on offer, however. In addition to Fearful Hunter, Macy has also released his magnum opus, a lush adaptation of the novel Teleny, or, The Reverse of the Medal.
This anonymous tome was written in the very late 1800s, and has been attributed to Oscar Wilde and his inner circle of artistic friends. Perhaps the first truly well-written book of porn, it is also one of the first books to deal almost exclusively with gay sexuality.
Macy has adapted it as Teleny and Camille, titling it after the young lovers in the novel. He also adds a framing sequence in which he and a friend sit in a coffee shop in San Francisco while he works on the book, and another introductory section on the creation of the original novel and the logistics through which Wilde passed the book on to his collaborators.
It is a typically florid Victorian love story, although between two men. There is betrayal, and death, and ultimately doom for the relationship. But in the second part of the framing sequence, Macy’s friend suggests that, since there were already four or five other hands working on the original novel, nothing prevents Macy from altering the ending so that everyone lives happily ever after--or at least, doesn’t die a horrible, romantic and vain death.
In some ways, it is reminiscent of Macy’s earlier series, Nefarismo. There’s a great deal of intricate line-work, a completely different aesthetic from his more “butch” recent work. There are swirls and flowers and plants melding an Art Nouveau style with his own, which somehow becomes similar to one of his own influences, out comic writer and illustrator P. Craig Russell. There are also similarities to the magnificent Tony Harris, whose work on Starman brought hip heroes to the mainstream.
Both books are available through www.jonmacy.com, and buying them is not a suggestion, it’s a command. Don’t do it to nobly support a gay artist, don’t do it to be cool. Do it because they’re incredibly engrossing, beautifully-drawn works of brilliance.
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