Monday, December 26, 2016

(68) Care and Feeding of a New Boyfriend

Now that Jeff thinks he has a boyfriend, he tries to acquire some culture. Is he attracted to the Perry Memorial for the pivotal importance of the battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, or its phallic shape? See

Sunday, December 11, 2016

(67) Opera and TNT

Early in the comic strip, Sid and Meg were great pals that blew up buildings for a living during the day and sang opera at night. They remained close pals throughout the run of the strip but they both got new jobs before long.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

(66) friends with the opposite sex

This strip comments on the sharp gender divide that split the community in the 80s/90s. Jeff is not a mean-spirited person, or he might've referred to Meg as a "fag hag." Perhaps I should've used a nastier character and ventured down that alley ---asking why we need to apply epithets to our friends and allies?

Monday, November 21, 2016

What a Bargain! !

Obviously I've been selling myself short.

When I published Savoir Fairy 1986, I had drawn around 100 Murphy's Manor comic strips. I used most of them in the first of a series (I hoped) of Murphy's Manor compilations.

The book sold okay -- I sold directly to gay book stores and a couple distributors at a generous discount. That's how the book business worked. and publication-on-demand didn't exist yet.

I sold most of the print run and made a modest profit. But I never published a second volume.

Why not? I wanted to be a cartoonist, not a bookmonger. I wanted to focus my energy on what I did best.

I contacted the Amazon merchant who asks $99 for my book. I wondered if he can get that price, perhaps he'd like more copies? I have one or two boxes left, all mint. He replied he had a single copy, but sold none. it's standard practice to put an outrageous price on rare, one of a kind books.

I offered to sell him some more. I wonder what price he'd put on them.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

(1023) You're Going to Move Where??

"You're going to move where if he becomes president?"

Come on people! We've been through this before!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

(65) Cruising with a Little Puccini

Jeff continues his unrequited pursuit of Clem the Hairstylist.  This series could've made a great Puccini opera. This strip almost looks like they're singing an aria together.

Totally autobiographical. Before I met John, this is how my crushes--I can hardy call them love affairs--always turned out.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

(64) It's Your Hot Date -- Order Something Expensive

Jeff finally gets a date with Clem the Hairstylist and they hit it off right away. Or maybe not. Hope Clem orders something expensive.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

(63) A Normal Sort of Queer

It occurs to me that after all these years Murf remains a pretty queer comic strip. I have been accused of being a traditional cartoonist, but put this strip next to "Hagar the Horrible" or "Zits." If there's a similarity in approach, it makes Murf seem all the queerer. Come to that, "Beetle Baily" might be improved by a strip or two about masturbation.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

(62) Jeff's PC Date

In which Jeff gets a date with his beloved Mister Clem the Hairstylist, and learns that everything is political. From the beginning, may help set the tone at Murphy's Manor.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

(61) O Ciel!

Meg enters the strip, bringing high explosives to the opera. Pure heaven!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

(60) I Remember GLBT

Here's one significant cultural change in the GLBT (excuse me, LGBT) community in my lifetime. The ability to work together. When I came out, the community was absolutely --at least in Toledo -- segregated by gender.

The word I heard from the Wymyn's community: men not welcome. Not that I really wanted to attend a Wymyn's Dance anyway.

Men ran the gay rights group --Personal Rights, PRO. Its stated policy was that men and women were equally welcome at Pro Toledo . The reality was that it was nearly all men. Perhaps because of a somewhat cruisy atmosphere in the social periods with lots of sexually charged banter and small talk. At least this is what we heard from the women who did not participate.

We've come a long way since then. Due in part to dropping the gender barrier.

Does anybody use the term "Wymyn's" anymore? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

(59)Sid Meets Jan

I've always said that Sid Jacobs was based on Toledo's Jan Suter. This strip illustrates it. And it's an exercise in self-censorship'.

Perhaps half a dozen people who knew Jan will read this post. We recall how open Jan was about his sex life; he noted that it pays to advertise. If he cared what other people thought about him, he knew how not to let it bother him. I on the other hand, was a freelance cartoonist who was trying to keep editors happy. That required that I not be too explicit about sex. Yes, gay bar newspapers had their limits, and Murf lost more than one subscriber who thought my cartoons too racy. I thought they were no more explicit than "Three's Company."

Jan also viewed life as a series of virginities to be lost. This became a joke. "I lost my Ring Cycle virginity when I was seventeen," he might say.

He also likened publicly acknowledging one's interest in S&M to coming out for a second time. Again, it pays to advertise. He socialized with a Midwest group called FFA. I'll give you a clue. These boys were not Future Farmers of America. And "FF" does not stand for French fries.

Here's where my self-censorship came in. In the comic strip below, where it says "leather" substitute "S&M." At the time it seemed generally assumed that leather meant S&M 75% of the time, so leather could be understood by the readers as code for S&M. Today I don't know readers would make that presumption.

Oh, Sid and the woman have just finished an opera performance. Hence the costumes.

(58) At home with strangers

This strip is a relic of the end of my bachelor days. I always felt ill-at-ease in bars, gay or otherwise. I never met anybody at a bar, never had a conversation with a stranger. If I went to a bar with a group of friends, it was okay -- although I didn't mix outside my group. Not because I was snooty, just very defensive with people I didn't know. Yes, I knew by body language and lack of eye contact were probably why I never met anybody. Take this strip as self-parody as much as a poke at gay barflies.

About the time of this strip, I met John. (Not at a bar)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

(57) Look up Cruising in the Yellow Pages

Jeff doesn't know how to use the Yellow Pages, but understands exactly where Clem would go to cruise! 

This is a continuation of the story of Jeff and Clem,  in which Jeff  falls in love with a hair stylist. That's all you need to know about the plot.

 Yes, the storyline is going on concurrently with effective cruising.

In the entire run of the comic strip this is the only time Jeff ever has a steady boyfriend.

Monday, August 15, 2016

(56) Look up, Jeff!

The strip is notable for the erotic way in which Jeff gives the parking meter an affectionate squeeze.

You've got to admit, it is a very sexy parking meter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

(55) Jeff Learns Some Rodgers & Hart Songs

Jeff met Clem, the hairstylist. One look, and Jeff was speechless. -- How often does that happen?? We're not sure if Jeff told Clem how he felt, but he looks pretty bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Can this be love?

And Jeff didn't even get to spend the night with him.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

(54)Jeff Falls in Love. For More Than One Night

The first Murphy's Manor story line begins.

Speaking as a writer, what's the nastiest thing I could do to Jeff, the eternal party boy?

(53) Gay Historical Figures & Thoughts on a Murf Book

Back home from Queers in Comics in May 2015. After that it was back to the routine for a week, then it was on to Chicago. After being together for 32 years, John and I got married. 

This strip continues jokes at the expense of gay revisionist history that went into some books of the 80s.

At Queers and Comics & Comics I got the same question at both panels where I presented: where can I buy a book of your work? All I had to offer was a self-published book I made in the 80s. There was a lot of Murf after that. I explained that I made a number of attempts to bring out Murf books through publishers, but most came to naught, Except Between the Sheets of course, which is still available:

After getting a Talking To by several colleagues, it seems that self-publishing has come a long way, and has become the way to get your work Out There. I'm inclined to think they're right -- time for me to produce a few Murf books. Probably about 100 strips with condensed commentary.

The first step is organize the contents of the first book. Second is to pick a self-publishing service and distribution. 

Onward. I have work to do.

August 2016: I have a collection of strips selected and am still working on layout. I want to add a series of about 15 new strips. two done,  two more partially drawn,  and a few additional scripts.

Working title: Murphy's Manor: the 30 Year Wedding.

Nag me! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

(52) The Wisdom of Jeff

This completes the first year of Murf.

Again, Jeff is showing too much knowledge -- wasn't Cervantes a hot Mexican guy he met at the baths?

I have always had a satirical bite. And I turn it on the community as readily as I turn it on our foes. But affectionately, mind you.

I am now leaving for the Queers and Comics conference in NYC, where I will be a presenter. Wish me luck! Murf posts resume afterward. Catch you then. [Written in May 2015 - Ke]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(51) 1983: the First Hint of AIDS

A milestone strip - my first commenting on a Rilly Important Issue. And in a sense, my first AIDS strip.

Of course this cartoon is about a sexually-transmitted strain of hepatitis. Murf rolls his eyes, indicating this person is a fool -- the cure for hepatitis came fairly early, but god knows what other risks are out there?

God knows indeed! It was 1983.

(50) Gay Slots

Also with the advent of casinos I have to wonder -- do any of them have gay slot machines? Does does having a naked boy shake his buns at you improve your odds of winning?

Or at least make you feel better about losing?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

(49) Trés Jolies!

First appearance by name of my favorite gay bar. I always thought that "Trés Jolies" was the perfect name for a prettyboy bar, and I used it right up to the last strip. I trust my French is good enough that I don't have to translate. Although I did misspell it on this first occasion. If that persists, I'll go back and edit old strips.

What I'm not sure of is whether "Trés Jolies" implies a particular gender. Either way would be good.

Murf sleeps through the entire strip.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

(48) a little Damon Runyon, a little Stan Lee

Jeff is still in a tizzy over whether he's butch or fem -- a distinction that lost any importance years ago. One problem with this strip: Jeff seems too literate. He shouldn't know who Damon Runyon was. Not even Guys and Dolls. Jeff has neglected the obligatory-for-gay-men study of classic musicals.

Going to musicals is butch, right?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

(47) Farewell to 1982

And so ends 1982. Jeff chides Murf over being bookish, but he's too good natured to do it with venom.

Jeff was an amalgam of people I knew. The name came from somebody who I only met once or twice at PRO gatherings. Soon he was taken over (to a degree) by the early roommate who held a party in my absence. I think his name was John?? After that, Jeff was a collection of traits rather than modeled after one specific person.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

(46) A Party I Missed & Will Never Forget

True story. Once I had a roommate who threw a party at the house while I was visiting my family in Oregon. He didn't bother telling me about it. Any artist never wastes any of the material that's handed to him. He uses the whole pig, especially the squeal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

(45) Queerbasher Revenge

In my previous job, a co-worker seriously opined one day that all the queers should be lined up and shot.

Is there less violent homophobia today than there was then? It seems like it. Or at least it's gone underground. At any rate, today I'd go straight to our HR person and file a written complaint. If there was anything I could've done in 1982 to respond, I didn't know it.

If I could rename Murphy's Manor, I would call the strip Weekend Revolutionaries because it is about ordinary gayfolk who take activism into their own hands. Here is my modest proposal of what to do about violence: kill it with love and kisses. Especially the latter.

Monday, June 6, 2016

(44) Sid Jacobs' Elixir of Love

Sid's continuing adventures as an opera performer. Elixir of Love continues to be a favorite of mine.

The sorcerer's snake oil song is notable for its successors: Gilbert's parody for John Wellington Wells, and Sondheim's "Pirelli" song in Sweeny Todd come to mind.

Although I think I over estimated how many really are opera fans.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

(43) Genderfuck

Genderfuck? Does anybody use that term anymore?  Maybe I better clean translate.  Genderfuck used to refer to the shock value of appearing in public dressed as the opposite sex. Transgender?  Never heard of it!  A good example of Genderfuck was gay men who paraded around San Francisco on roller skates dressed as nuns.  They wore beards, and made no real attempt to pass themselves off as female – but they were nevertheless in drag.

In 1982 I was graduating from being a gay Newbie. I'd found certain groups of guys at PRO regarded themselves as butch or fem - and the fem guys were called girls. Oh, it was mostly a joke, intended as genderfuck. So mostly I went along with it, but I still thought it was rather artificial. I don't know anybody today who takes on gender roles like that. Despite the continuing popularity of drag shows.

Monday, May 16, 2016

(42) A Sexy Weather Forecast

Jeff has never heard of Tom Lehrer, but he would agree that ...

When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd

As for getting ten inches in Toledo - it could still happen! Snow storms in April are not unknown.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

(41) Gay Men Love Opera - If They Can Stay Awake Through it

Jeff takes the hint to live up to the gay stereotype by loving opera. Which he'll do just as soon as he learns to distinguish Wagner from Bizet.

As Jeff commented earlier -- he'll try anything -- once.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

(40) Just Like Luciano Pavarotti

"We've got a stereotype to live up to." Sid's attitude reflects my view of Gay culture at the time: let's have some fun doing the things gay people are supposed to do.

I didn't dwell much on what Murphy's Manor characters did for a living. Sid started out as a demolitions expert with the considerable talent it takes to be an opera singer. At the end, he was Pope of a gay bar. Details later!

Friday, April 29, 2016

(39) Taking S&M For a Spin

Jeff experiments  by going, with trepidation,  to an S&M party. Only to be underwhelmed.

(This is an experiment of posting with a cell phone)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

(38) Cruising of the Wings of Song

Being new to Toledo, having come out relatively recently, and being a fledgling classical music/opera fan, it seemed to me in 1982 that the stereotype of gay men as opera queens had some truth. Today I would not assume this level of interest in opera of readers because they were gay. Sid was modeled on Jan Suter, who was an avid opera fan. His idea of a hedonistic retreat was to spend the weekend in bed listening to the Ring straight through.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

(37) Murf, the Quick Wit

Murf, always articulate, quick with a turn of phrase. Just like *koff koff* me

Sunday, February 14, 2016

(954) Murphy's Manor #954 By Antonin Scalia

Forgive my jumping ahead so many years in comic strips, but this is so timely there's nothing but to do it.

You probably didn't know that the late Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote a Murphy's Manor comic strip.

Of course he didn't know that's what he was doing at the time.

I didn't exactly ask his permission.

And I never shared with him the bountiful royalties I realized out of his golden words.

In pace requiescat, his molestation of the Latin language and all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

(35) O a faggot bufoon

Here's something that hasn't changed. Gay literature splits into camps of tacky (raunchy) or PC, and "Either type will bore or offend somebody." 

Too true of cartoons in general. Hey, maybe if I try hard enough I can do both at the same time!

On the whole I have probably worried too much about giving offense  in trying to make everybody happy with my cartoons. Result: it avoids offense but takes the bite out of cartoons. It's how we get comic strips like the Family Circus. O a private buffoon is a lighthearted loon if you listen to popular rumor…

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

(34) A Real Blast from the Past

Poppers - now there's a subject matter you don't see in mainstream comics. I'd call this a distant blast from the past --- but I gather they still exist, and still fly under the radar of public attention. In their day, they were a fixture in gay culture. Jerry Mills even named his comic strip after them. Note the reference to the hepatitis vaccine. Much, much more to come about that--and what followed it! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

(33) Politics gets in the way of Jeff's sex life

Political power or hot sex. Hot sex or political power?? If you were given a choice, which would you take? Hmmm ...

Monday, January 18, 2016

(32) A Page in History

Remember the senatorial page boy scandal of 1982? I doubt I would if I hadn't drawn a cartoon about it. See how being a cartoonist matures one into a being better person? And if you're a senator, it sounds like a fun way to lose your job. When was the last time this country had a really juicy sex scandal, anyway??

Saturday, January 16, 2016

(31) Queer - Queer - Engineer

Mark tries his hand at the new application form to join the gay community and finds it more rigorous than he expected. Side note: Mark, like me, is an engineer. 1982 was the year I aced the P.E. exam. So this strip has a special element of autobiography. In-joke even.

If there are any gay civil engineers in the world beside Mark and me.