Robert Kirby started Boy Trouble: Gay Boy Comics with a New Attitude in 1994 as a thirty-page photocopied alternative zine, showcasing work from mostly twenty-something gay male comic artists. In 1995, David Kelley joined Kirby to put out issues in 1995, 1997, and 2000. They released the fifth issue, an eighty-page trade paperback, at the tenth anniversary in 2004 â€“ and the positive gay and alternative press this generated convinced the editors to publish a volume of Boy Trouble‘s greatest hits.
The Book of Boy Trouble presented the best work previously published in the zine, and it gathered in new comics by both established and new contributors – as the editors put it, “taking a long sideways glance into the past as we continue into the future.” Mostly illustrated in black and white, there are 24 pages of color comics.
Punk rock, bad dates, porn arcades, chance meetings, coming out, staying in â€“ all are fair game to the seventeen artists included. These stories are all personal, provocative, and powerful – I can only pick out the best of the best. I was immediately hooked by the first story, “Instruction,” by D. Travers Scott and Robert Kirby, of a twenty-year-old on his first visit to one of Chicago’s porn arcades. David Kelley does a touching “Queer Tribute to Kurt [Cobain]” and enthusiastically illustrates a Spoilsport song, “Boys on the Beach.” Michael Fahy made me laugh out loud at “Self Portrait.”
The Book of Boy Trouble. Volume 2, Born to Trouble, expands color comics to the entire book. Artists from the 1970’s and 1980’s â€” Howard Cruse, Jenifer Camper, Robert Triptow â€” join the 1990’s boys and their successors. Sexual preference and gender lines are broken, reflecting changes in the artists who contributed to later zine issues.
Again, the best of the best: Anonymous Boy’s “Wayne Gets Groped” is a great tale of a closeted punk rock fan at a concert. Ed Luce’s “Wuvable Oaf in ‘Chat Attack'” takes a humorous look at on-line hookups (with the assistance of Wuvable Oaf’s adorable cats). “Evil Bear Man” by Justin Hall details an episode in the life of a fetish escort. And Tim Fish’s “The Voodoo That You Do So Well” is a sweet story of how a voodoo doll pulls two lonely men together.
Both books are recommended for public and academic libraries with comics/graphic novel collections. Be aware, though, that nudity is used to tell some stories in both volumes.
Reviewed by,Â Louis Lang
Leather Archives & Museum