My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm not a fan of gay romance novels, but I've always loved gay romance comics. From sitting on my friend's bed back in college reading the Gay Comix anthologies and the few other works available at the time, to recognizing my personal desires displayed on the movie screen when I watched Kiss of the Spiderwoman, even prior to coming out as a gay man; graphical stories of fighting against repression have always resonated with me. Meeting my friend Jon Macy, back in the early Nineties when I managed a gay bookstore was the pinnacle of my gay life, but my joy has only seemed to rise from there.
Jon has put his heart and soul into Teleny and Camille (T&C) and I still love looking over the pages and finding all the little tidbits he put there. The cherry blossoms, the gypsy on horseback, the gardens at Kew, the morgue and the page of absinthe are all favorites. This enjoyment carries over to his new series Fearful Hunter (recipient of a PRISM comics grant) where coincidentally my own brush with madness mirrored his realization to honor his past with a personal story of love and redemption. I really can't say anything against his wonderful stories, and why would I? I envy his skill and dedication to his craft, but I also love that he shares it with the rest of us. I think by doing so he asks us all to consider striving for better lives, despite opposition we may encounter.
Having watched this project begin with baby-steps back in the mid-nineties to Macy's full realization now, I cannot be happier to recommend T&C to all curious readers. (Check out previews at northwestpress.com, jonmacy.com and oscholars.com) This is the real thing: explicit tales of sex, sumptuous graphics, torrid romance, Victorian virtues upheld, and then overturned. Bringing this material to the modern reader through personal storytelling and displaying the challenges he encountered, Macy "pulls-no-punches" resurrecting an underground world Oscar Wilde likely encountered sheltering a hidden nineteenth-century sexuality.
Praise must also be raised for his publisher, Northwest Press, not only taking on a controversial work, but placing it in such a handsome package. The design is understated and enhances what is inside. Everyone will be proud to display this modern novel of gay romance on their bookshelves. The interiors may shock and reveal the lurid nature of repression, but this is with good cause. Without questioning the social structures that allow prejudice to persist, how can we create a more peaceful world for all humanity? I think this is the purpose of retelling our personal stories, no matter how horrific.
This publication sets the standard for erotic storytelling very high. I want to see more stories like this in the future, be they from the pen of Macy (did I mention he is publishing a new fantasy series?) or others working in the same market. Northwest Press already handles several quality titles and is set to become a leader in presenting new works of gay literature today. I am looking forward to more excellent work from Charles "Zan" Christensen at Northwest Press.
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