Tag Archives: comic strip

Review: THE COMPLETELY UNFABULOUS SOCIAL LIFE OF ETHAN GREEN

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Eric Orner is one of the pioneers in LGBT comics. “The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,” published by Northwest Press, is a great way to not only further establish him in the canon of LGBT comics, but simply to showcase the work of an excellent cartoonist.

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All of us cartoonists can learn from Eric Orner. Just when you get that first wave of resistance, that’s when you push back a little harder. Orner had tales to tell, just like Howard Cruse before him and Alison Bechdel right alongside him, and they could not wait.

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Orner’s comic strip ran in that fuzzy, chaotic, and bubbling time (1989-2005), before the internet and digital and then well into it. Orner grew as a person and as an artist. Collected here are some 300 of his groundbreaking comic strips. Well before Ellen DeGeneres was ready to come out, and perhaps a mainstream audience was ready to accept her, there was this comic strip. And casting the longest shadow, the less understood epidemic of AIDS, which Orner would address with both grace and thoughtful humor. Bit by bit, Orner was there to chronicle, in retrospect, a most confused and dangerous time–and it wasn’t that long ago and it’s still unfolding before us.

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By 1997, the Ethan Green comic strip appeared in every large city and most mid-sized cities in the United States, as well as running in Canada and overseas. As Orner states in one of the section introductions, “Given that I wasn’t watering down the content, the fact that this very gay comic strip seemed to be building a readership among straight folks was a source of pride.”

Still, controversy could easily arise when least expected. It was also in 1997 that Baltimore’s alt-weekly, City Paper, had to fend off a church group that took great offense over a mild sex scene in the comic strip, something akin to soap opera content. Maybe they were just waiting for the very next depiction of two men making love anywhere to set them off.

Just as a comic strip unfraid to grow, Ethan Green stands out. As anyone who does a webcomic today can attest, there is an unrelenting grind that a cartoonist can succumb to. But, even in the earliest years, Orner was willing to push his artistic and literary limits. Right from the start, he aspired to reach greater heights of insight and downright zaniness. In one strip, circa 1990, he has The Hat Sisters attempt to save lives through time travel. For every vulnerable penis they find, they sheath it with a condom. Everything in the strip is in balance and it speaks volumes.

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Towards the end of Ethan Green’s run, in 2005, a couple of young independent filmmakers from Hollywood adapted the comic strip into a movie. It premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival and enjoyed a 19-city theatrical release in 2006.

Ultimately, Eric Orner’s comic strip enjoyed a great run. And now it is collected in this deluxe edition and off to begin a whole new life with old fans and new readers.

“The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green” is a 228-page trade paperback, black & white and in color, priced at $24.99, and available now. For more details, visit our friends at Northwest Press right here.

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Filed under Alison Bechdel, Comic Strips, Comics, Eric Orner, Gay, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Howard Cruse, LGBT, Northwest Press

Review: THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS, published by Titan Books

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James Bond came very close to only remaining a character in a series of novels by Ian Fleming. It was once hard to imagine James Bond in comics let alone as leading a magnificent movie franchise and recognized as a pop culture icon. Nice how things have a way of working out.

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You will find the Bond lifestyle in full gear in this comic strip, which began in 1958, Volume Five, the most recent, collects work by writer Jim Lawrence and artist Yaroslav Horak, which ran from 1966 to 1984. Published by Titan Books, this is a series of deluxe edition books. It is full of action, exotic locales, intrigue, villains, and sexy women.

The artwork and the dialogue are what you’d expect from an action comic strip. The Bond character is a hunk of a guy. He’s not necessarily reflecting the Bond on the big screen. Whoever the Bond is on the big screen is a tough act to follow. But that’s where the comic strip can claim some cred. It used to be the only Bond there was outside the novels.

Titan Books has collected the whole run of the James Bond comic strip into collectible volumes. Volume Five is 272 pages, priced at $19.95 US, and includes nine adventures: Till Death Do Us Part, The Torch-Time Affair, Hot-Shot, Nightbird, Ape of Diamonds, When The Wizard Awakes, Sea Dragon, Death Wing, and The Xanadu Connection.

Visit Titan Books for more details here.

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Filed under British Comics, Comics, European Comics, James Bond, Titan Books