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Manly by Dale Lazarov


by Dale Lazarov

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Out of all of Dale Lazarov's gay erotic comics collections to have so far been released in print--Sticky, Manly, Nightlife, and Good Sports--my personal favorite is Manly. Released in 2008 by Germany-based publishing house Bruno Gmünder (which specializes in gay fiction, nonfiction, comics, art, and photography), Manly was Lazarov's second collaboration to be released by the publisher. In the case of Manly, comics writer Lazarov worked closely with Amy Colburn, a homoerotic illustrator from Virginia. Manly was Colburn's publishing debut as a comics artist. Dominic Cordoba also contributed to the volume by providing the color work. Lazarov self-describes his work as "smart, wholesome gay comics smut" which I feel is an entirely apt description. I would also agree that Manly, which was my introduction to Lazarov's comics, fits that mold perfectly.

Manly collects three short, unrelated erotic gay comics: "Busted," "Clinch," and "Hot Librarian." I say unrelated because the stories do not share any plot or characters with each other, but they do all feature a pair of masculine men who take great pleasure in each other's company. The collection opens with "Busted" in which a civilian aids in the arrest of a criminal, gaining the attention of the lead ATF agent working on the case in the process. In "Clinch," a retired championship boxer and a successful, up-and-coming younger fighter discover their mutual admiration and attraction. Manly closes with "Hot Librarian" which follows a man new to the gay club scene who, after an awkward start, ends up finding love in the stacks instead. As a librarian myself, I couldn't hep but have a particular fondness for "Hot Librarian," but I enjoyed all three comics a great deal; "Clinch" appealed to my interest in fighting arts and the leads in "Busted" were incredibly endearing.

As is true of all of Lazarov's comics, there is no dialogue or narration in Manly meaning that there are very few textual clues to move the narrative along. Instead, there is an even greater reliance on the artwork to carry the story. Fortunately, Colburn is up to the task and handles it very well. Because Manly is largely wordless it allows the comics to be enjoyed by a wider audience without having to worry about language barriers. Since there are no words to slow readers down there is a temptation to rush through the volume as a result, but to do so would mean missing some of the more subtle aspects of the stories--facial expressions, body language, and so on. At the same time, because there is so little text, readers must engage with the comics on an almost participatory level in the creation and interpretation of the stories. And there actually are stories in Manly. I liked that there was a bit of plot to go along with all the sex (and there's plenty of sex, too.) For me, the balance of those two elements in Manly worked nicely.

Manly is sexy and sweet with a touch of humor and a lot of joy. It celebrates the physical intimacy between its men. The comics are explicit with nothing to hide but I wouldn't exactly call them graphic, either. It was great to see an emphasis on safer sex and condom use. In fact, in one story the lack of condoms means that the men have to get a little more creative in their play. Manly is sex-positive and the delight the men find with each other is wonderful. I was consistently left with a smile and even an occasional chuckle. I liked that the men in Manly actually established relationships with each other. To them the sex was more meaningful than just a casual encounter. Although the men in Manly are all unquestionably masculine, I appreciated the range of ethnicities, ages, and body-types exhibited by the characters. Manly is a great if all too brief collection of gay erotic comics. While the volume remains my favorite, it convinced me to seek out more of Lazarov's work. So far, I haven't been disappointed.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jun 22, 2013 |
Manly is beautiful. The book is divided into 3 stories, scripted by Dale Lazarov who wrote Sticky with Steve MacIsaac. The illustrations were done by Amy Colburn, who rocks, and color by Dominic Cordoba.

Each story has a uniting theme of men doing what they do best! The first story, Busted, is about a cop and an innocent bystander who helps out. After they both get awarded for their contributions there is a spark of attraction between them and it is all on! The second story is Clinch. Two boxers, a Latino guy and an older Irish bloke, who have to get creative without a condom. The last, and my favorite, is the Hot Librarian. This was funny, sweet and oh the leather! Or maybe it was the whole library thing… I am after all a total book geek and do love the library! heh.

According to an interview done by the gorgeous Patrick Fillion, Dale had to approach the book with an international audience in mind – hence the lack of text. To me, this was a huge part of its charm. Dale and Amy convey emotion and tension to drive each story with just a look, expression or touch within the panels. I think this also makes it more of a personal read as you invariably wonder what the boys would be saying and you end up with your own spin on events.

The facets of masculinity displayed in the book and what it is to be manly is also interesting and thought provoking. But, I guess the one thing that struck me the most in all 3 stories was the affection and warmth between the characters. I am a bit of a mush and things like the kiss and blush in Busted, had me smiling with bit of a sigh. Don’t get me wrong either, I don’t mean romance as in fade to the fire burning shot. No. These boys go hard and the sex is totally hot, sensuous and sexy as all get out! I liked it. A lot!

Check out some of the images for the book here.
http://sharrow.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/manly-by-dale-lazarov-and-amy-colburn/ ( )
1 vote sharrow | Jul 11, 2009 |
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