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ALA’S GLBT ROUND TABLE HONORS GAY-THEMED GRAPHIC NOVELS
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The Over the Rainbow Project, sponsored by the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table, announced its 2014 book list, containing works recommended for adults that “exhibit commendable literary quality and...
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François Peneaud's Recommended Top Ten Comics for LGBT Readers
by François Peneaud
[Print-ready Version]

I’ve arranged the list alphabetically, because there’s no way I could choose between these comics, as they’re far too varied. Also, I’ve included one title which hasn’t been published in English, since I think it’s by an important author who should be available in your language.

1) Bull's Balls by Ralf König
Published by MännnerschwarmSkript Verlag

Ralf König is a gay artist who is well-known in many European countries. In France, his books are published by (non-gay) Glénat, one of the biggest publishers. Bull’s Balls is one of his raunchy titles, where he manages to write very funny stories involving sex and love, while mocking everybody—straight and gay—with equal affection. It also showcases his recurring characters Conrad and Paul, two long-time companions who couldn’t be more different. Conrad is an ex-hetero who fell in love with the then-beardless Paul, who over the years has changed into a sex-obsessed hairy man always tricking. Conrad is a piano teacher, Paul is more into gay divas.

Paul meets a seemingly straight Spanish construction worker with the physique of Hercules and falls hard for him. Or rather, for the promise of great sex… It’s everything your parents didn’t want you to know about men who love men who (mostly) love men, and it’s a lot of fun. König has done about twenty albums, but only very few have been translated in English.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.


2) Cavalcade of Boys by Tim Fish
Published by Poison Press

A modern tragicomedy, with a large cast of mostly young guys chasing after the men of their dreams.

Tim Fish has a mainstream style somewhere in the vicinity of Erik Larsen, and his pages give out a lot of energy. His men and boys are really sexy, and their lives are chronicled with a bittersweet brush that should get out of his readers as many laughs as groans.

Buy this book here or ask for it at your local comics shop.










3) The Desert Peach by Donna Barr
Published by Fine Line Press

Donna Barr’s The Desert Peach is one of the cleverest and most entertaining comic series you could read. The main character is the fictional brother of Field Marshal Edwin Rommel (yes, the one from WWII). He’s gay as a goose, rather affected and extremely well-mannered. He’s also the Colonel of a North African battalion full of soldiers who couldn’t fit anywhere else, whom he protects like a mother hen. Donna Barr has a manic line which spreads on the page like her wild, but always serious, ideas spread in the reader’s mind. This series is, obviously, very gay-friendly, but it will make you think as much at it will entertain you.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.









4) Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
Published by Alyson Publications

For about 20 years, Alison Bechdel has been writing and drawing her series of strips about the lives of her lesbian characters (well, now there are non-lesbian characters), with a decidedly political bent to her stories (guess which bent). Mo, Toni, Clarice and all the others are now fully-realized characters who all feel like old friends every time we read a new collection – and a new, 11th one should be out around now.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.





5) Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo
Published by DC/Vertigo

One of the best Milligan works, and that’s saying something. A strange tale of a young straight man without many goals in life, whose already well-ingrained habits are disturbed by the appearance of a character from his favorite childhood comic. A beautiful and thoughtful meditation on reality, self and identity, Enigma also boasts wonderful gay characters and one of the great gay romances of comics.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.











6) how loathsome by Tristan Crane & Ted Naifeh
Published by NBM/Comics Lit

Centered on a few very non-mainstream (in the non-comics meaning of the word) characters, how loathsome is a book you probably won’t finish without questioning some of your views on sexuality and identity. The everyday lives of those characters, which include gay boys who hustle, transsexuals and lesbians, is shown without exoticism but also without glamour. Catherine, Chloe and Alex are definitely people I’d like to meet again.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.











7) Journal by Fabrice Neaud
Published by Ego Comme X (not available in English)

Fabrice Neaud is a unique author in French comics (or bandes dessinées, as we call them). He’s a member of the Ego Comme X group ("ego as x", pronounced "ego comix"), and the only gay artist there. All the members write and draw autobiographical comics in a variety of styles going from the very realistic (Neaud) to the very cartoony. So, Neaud’s books (four of which have been published so far—that’s a bit less than 800 pages) show his daily life. He doesn’t shy away from talking about his park cruises or his being gay-bashed. But Neaud isn’t a simple diarist: he’s also an artist concerned with various problems of our society, including homophobia and gay life in small towns (he lives in Angoulême, the town where the famous French comics festival takes place), but not only. He uses photographs in his works, but works hard at building comics with a strong and meaningful narration. His Journal (“diary”) is among the best comics coming from France, for its strong point of view and its constant inventiveness. I think it would suit quite well either Drawn & Quarterly or Fantagraphics.

Buy this book here or ask for it at your local comics shop.






8) Liliane, bi-dyke by Leanne Franson
Published by Déditeur

Liliane is the fictional self of author Leanne Franson. Franson draws her daily strips (which have been collected in books available on her website) in a loose, expressive style, touching on varied subjects, including her life as a bisexual woman, her relationship with her big, affectionate dog and more political themes. Liliane is a moving and enthralling real-life series where the author manages to make us believe we know her character, without feeling like a bunch of voyeurs.

Buy this book here or ask for it at your local comics shop.










9) Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
Published by DC/Paradox Press

If we had to choose one gay-themed graphic novel to add to the canon of Great Sequential Art, this would be it. Cruse tells the partly autobiographical (but highly fictionalized) story of a young white man living in the South at the beginning of the 60s. He’ll find himself joining the fight for civil rights in this segregated society, and that will give him enough courage to face his homosexuality and begin to live it. With dense and researched art, this moving and sometimes heartbreaking book should be on the shelf of every self-respecting queer.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.










10) Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore & Gene Ha
Published by DC/America’s Best Comics

The latest, and maybe last, story Moore has written for his ABC imprint takes us just after WWII, when the town of Neopolis (which we discovered in the Top Ten series) begins to fill with costumed people who’ve been relocated there by the government. Among them, Steve Traynor, a teenage plane pilot, and Wulf, a 25-year old member of a Blackhawk-like group. The beginning of their relationship is the emotional linchpin of this entertaining sci-fi story where mad scientists and vampire gangsters threaten the newfound peace. As usual, Moore’s story has more than one level of meaning: this one is clearly about prejudices, and putting a moving and slightly out-of-bounds (Steve is still a minor) gay love story at the center of it enables the writer to make a clear point for open-mindedness. Gene Ha’s work is probably the best I’ve seen from him, with an evocative color scheme and characters who look like real people, and that perfectly complements the numerous fantasy elements of the story.

Buy this book here style= or ask for it at your local comics shop.







François Peneaud is a teacher, comics critic and occasional translator who lives in the south west of France with his partner. He runs a fan-site about P. Craig Russell (http://frpeneaud.free.fr) and The Gay Comics List (http://gaycomicslist.free.fr).

All images © their respective owners.

Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).


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