Sunday, May 28, 2017

(92) Real Life Intrudes

Suffice it to say, #92 was an unflattering caricature of somebody I knew!

I forget who, exactly ...

(91) A Gay Beetle Bailey

Either Jeff has a libido that laughs in the face of disaster, or he is truly naive. Even I am surprised how sanguine he manages to remain. But don't the TV ads say it's medically dangerous to sustain a state of arousal for the entire length of basic training? (and isn't Basic 6 weeks, not two?)

In hindsight, I could've turned this into a hilarious series. Every bit of misery the army tries to dole out, Jeff just takes it as a sexual thrill.

Lousy food? That's a new form of S&M. Can I clean the latrines, Sarge? Please? Classic scat! Why, it would've been a gay Beetle Bailey! 

(90) Your Gay Horoscope

Coming up with gags was always an ordeal. As a rule, tortuously-written scripts with much struggle were not my best. The best were those that came easily.

As a regular contributor to a number of gay newspapers, I found myself on the comp list of many. I read them desperately sometimes, digging for ideas. This is one of the more successful bar rag inspired gags.

(89) Meg for Mayor: What's Your Party?

It's official -- Meg's running for Mayor of Black Swamp, Ohio.

When she starts campaigning to Jeff the Eternal Party Boy (does he know what voting is??) she's gotta be serious about getting votes.

Once she comes up with a slogan, that sinks it..

(88) Meg for Mayor

And the strip is now into its first major plot line -- a development that shaped the course of the whole series.

I've said more than once that a better title for this strip might be "Weekend Revolutionaries" because it's about very ordinary LGBT folk taking activism into their own hands. Provided it doesn't get them fired or anything.

Meg takes a slightly bigger risk. LGBT civil rights is a political problem, right? Then to achieve it, take control of politics by becoming the Establishment yourself.

Let's see if this works ...

(87) A Passion for Sincerity

I got some mileage out of sex ads. Plenty more yet to come!

Jeff views a permanent relationship as an ideal but probably unattainable goal.

Or at least that's his excuse for fooling around. Gaudeamus igitur!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

(86) The Local Gay Pride Club

I always found joining organizations a better social outlet than the bars. In 1983 I was very active in the Personal Rights Organization, PRO/Toledo. I couldn't help poking affectionate fun at the organization, and local gay rights organizations in general. 

Then I was Treasurer of PRO.  Today I am Treasurer of Equality Toledo.

(85) Gay Professionals. Professional Gays.

In 1983 I was active in the Gay / Lesbian Press Association. It was a trade group whose purpose was to promote professionalism in the profession of running a gay  newspaper. Such as the practice of sending a cartoonist a check when he mails you an invoice.

One other push for professionalism was to stress the importance of broadening a paper's advertising base. Many local papers were bar rags because the bars were the only source of advertising revenue, and the only point of distribution (on top of the cigarette machines --- remember cigarette machines?). As long as this is the case, your ads will be cheap and your level of journalism will be to run bar photos of last Saturday's party featuring your top-advertising bar owners posing with cute shirtless boys.

To be sure, bar rags still exist. But many newspapers and magazines did escape the bar ghetto and conduct actual journalism.

Only to die at the hands of the internet.

(84) Gay Pinball Redux

A reply to my earlier cartoon about the lack of gay pinball machines. To which somebody replied there were indeed gay pinball machines. As early as 1983? Not in Black Swamp Ohio. This cartoon was drawn in the firm belief that the gay community (as we called it then) was so counter-culture, so underground, that it would never get that kind of mainstream recognition.

(83) What's Gay About Drag?

Doing drag was part of gay culture when I was coming out in Toledo in the early 80s. It wasn't quite that every gay man was expected to go in drag on Hallowe'en, but no one was surprised if you did.

I never got into drag myself, but writing for a gay audience felt that drag was expected. So when Hallowe'en came up, I decided to see what fun I could find in drag. I also managed to bring in my love of history. Oscar Wilde makes the first of several appearances in #83.

This is one case where the cartoonist steps aside and lets the characters take over.  Does anybody here remember how creative my costumes were for the Bensons' Hallowe'en parties? 


I have no imagination whenever when it comes to costuming myself.  Luckily my characters have more imagination than I do.

(82) One That Got Away

One of my more pensive strips, and optimistic on faith. The character is a caricature of an ex. We had drifted apart -- not through acrimony, but just because we dated for a while and nothing clicked. So here's Murf talking to "one who got away" with me standing just outside the  frame of the cartoon wondering if I'l ever meet anyone I can really spend my life with. 

Murf tells me to be optimistic and wait. This cartoon was drawn in July 1983, five or six weeks after I met John.  So my optimism would have been that this was the real McCoy.

Notes on the back of both original artwork. 
7/6/83 -two hours, scripts
7/8/83 -four hours roughs and lettering
7/11/83 -2 1/2 hours finished pencils and costume research
7/14/83 - six hours inking
7/19/83 - three hours touch up and zipatone

Total: 17.5 hours

Friday, May 26, 2017

(81) Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before ...

A really obvious gag. Guess I had to get it out of my system.

On the other hand  there are strips where I do subtle to death. Enjoy obvious while you can.

(80) Cruising is Relative

And speaking of rent boys ...

(79) An Authentic Leather Gay Bar

This is a gag about Toledo's long-time leather bar, the Rustler. It had a reputation for a dark after-hours sex room and a heavy S&M crowd. Others had it that it was all a joke, and leather men spent more time exchanging quiche recipes than flogging technique. Me? I never went there except an occasional afternoon sponsored social event. I didn't let that stop me from having fun with its repute.

Note the beer cans in panel 1 with tributes to the Rustler and its owner. -- a trick I cribbed from Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum strips.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

(78) In My Next Life ...

In another life I hope to be a history prof. I've always had a fondness for the historical, and occasionally I let Murf enter that realm. Marshfield was of course the original name of my home town.

Jeff obviously likes sex, but he looks like he's thinking of a chocolate milkshake.

Sounds like SF porn -- the invasion of Martians from the 23rd dimension who have delicious bodily fluids ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

(77) In Love with a Stereotype

As Jeff achieves mastery of rationalization, he discovers that our stereotypes can be convenient.

During my coming out days Toledo still had a 1960s view of being gay, with lots of campy butch/fem humor. I didn't feel I met either standard, so stereotypes were much on my mind.

(76) A Cartoon Character in Search of a Voice

Mark Varady, Murf's lover (as we said in those days) was a grad student in Engineering. Considering that I am a Civil Engineer who had graduated with a master's degree it seemed like kind of an .. incestuous (if that's the word for it) romance at the time.

Broadway fan that I am, I recognized Mark as a placeholder for "my someone." Eventfully Mark grew to be more John-like.

But here he is simply a techno-nerd.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

(75) My Gay Secret Identity

So Clem the hair stylist turned out to be a straight guy who is pretending to be gay for professional advancement. How often does that happen?

At the time I was working for a homophobic company by day, and at night going to PRO Toledo meetings, Coffees on Tuesdays, and drawing queer cartoons once a week. It felt like a double life. See my story "Saboteur" in Gay Comix #1!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

(74) Queer on the Outside, Straight in the Middle

At last the obvious is revealed! Clem the hairstylist is not in love with Jeff!! But Clem, who is three times as queer as Jeff, is straight. What a concept! Or is it just an excuse to let Jeff's feelings off easy?