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Brother To Dragons

Apologies for not showing the full cover.

François Peneaud
Carlos García (and colors)
Class Comics
$9 (On sale for 10% at time of posting)

BROTHER TO DRAGONS is part of the new wave of titles from Class Comics, the house that Patrick Fillion and partner Fraser lovingly built. Their expansion allows the opportunity to publish erotic comics that might otherwise have a bigger challenge in finding audiences. I’m happy to report that BTD is a very welcome addition to the genre.

Writer Peneaud set his rousing tale in a world that resembles Europe in the Middle Ages. There are a couple of differences though. In this world there is no guilt over having sex with other men, and we’ll see that some of these men have a connection to a divine dragon cult.

The story begins with Alaї, a likeable and dark haired young man, leaving the peaceful countryside of his youth and traveling by coach to the city where it’s been arranged he’ll work for his uncle. New prospects excite him and he’s eager to be over the disappointment from his cheating boyfriend Enric. Shirtless farmhands are a welcome distraction for Alaї just as it helps set a tone for the story. Shortly at a scheduled rest stop, Jiky, the sociable and stocky coach driver shares a good-humored conversation with Alaї. The talk leads to a sexual escapade in the stables that turns into a three way when hunky Boran, owner of the Red Bear Inn, a red bear himself, joins the action. This scene is the first of several that we’re given clues that there is more to Jiky, and his associates that we meet later, than meets the eye. A glowing red “tattoo” appears on the small of Jiky’s back as he climaxes and a few panels later his eyes shimmer red.

Having finished his journey, Alaї arrives at his uncle’s home and his cute twink of a cousin Rano standoffishly greets him. Alaї recalls their last visit together in the country when, thanks to a flashback, some typical roughhousing between them turned into the youths’ carefree exploration and enjoyment of one another’s bodies. Cousin Rano has become a bit of a puritan and will have nothing to do with their former activity no matter how much Alaї tries to persuade.

Meanwhile, Jiky arrives back at his quarters that are shared with several strapping men. The coach driver tells his three friends—each one sexy in their own ways–about Alaї whom he thinks would make a fine “brother to dragon.” Spirits are high and as it often does, conversation turns to talk of sex. The four men break in to pairs for lovemaking. I have to point out here that García’s talent really makes this scene visually stand out. There are a variety of suggestive angles and positions. Eyes wide open, tender looks, tensed facial muscles, eager tongues, a head tossed back are ample evidence of how well these men feel for each other. The textured lighting García accomplished here, evocative of light from a fireplace, makes the scene even more visually sensual. Job well done!

In the closing scene Alaї arrives at the church that his conservative cousin Rano directed him. Peneaud show us how fully integrated homosexuality is in this world he designed. A male attendant straightforwardly asks “Your preferences, brother?” to which Alaї answers “Male, please.” Thank you for making the co-existence of homosexuality and religion as simple as that. But then, Peneaud and García show what this means when a lean acolyte with a punkish Mohawk guides Alaї to a small, private room for communion and a blessing. The rituals here consist of making sacred marks on one another’s bare chests, retelling part of the Dragon creator myth, and sharing wine as a means of heightening sexual pleasure to an ecstatic experience as a way of worshipping the creator force. Alaї and the acolyte work themselves into some intense veneration!  While they’re going at it, a raven familiar looks on the pair in their physical abandon from its perch on a high windowsill. Through its eyes a mysterious hooded man assesses Alaї, cryptically commenting “Yes. He will do.”  Between this hooded figure and Jiky’s comments to his brothers, it smells like a mystery is a-brewing with Alaї!

It seems to me that the sexual aspect of worship here hearkens to times before the dominance of Judeo-Christian theology when some ancient religions had sexual components. Cults were known to have priestesses and temple prostitutes or sacred harlots, loaded phrases these days that acted out the roles of fertility gods and goddesses. Farmers might have a sexual encounter with a prostitute in the hopes of ensuring a good crop. Whatever the writer’s motivation is, it’s refreshing to read an erotic gay comic that adapts religion to a different sensibility. No shame, no guilt, and no church sexual abuse scandal!

Peneaud deftly wrote good, natural sounding dialog peppered with a few phrases to evoke a feeling of the story’s time and place. Sex scenes flow organically as part of the story and characters’ lives instead of feeling contrived and forced.

Carlos García is the artist of this creative team and he brings the story to life. The men he’s carefully drawn reflect distinct guys of various body types and he’s incredibly talented at conveying emotion and body language with his line work. Readers who like hairy men won’t be disappointed, but then, neither will those who like smooth skinned men. There’s a nice balance between the two types. So, what about the all-important man junk? García gives his men muscular bodies, tight asses, nicely endowed and realistically sized packages rendered with the right amount of detail. Backgrounds may often go unnoticed in a comic, erotic or not, unless the artist does a poor job with them. That is definitely not the case here; it all makes for a believable world.

One quality of this comic that I’d especially like to point out because it’s something that seems to be often missing from erotic comics. There is a sense of playfulness between the men especially in the sex scenes, and in other parts of the story as well. No doubt this feeling is a difficult one to pull off. Kudos to Peneaud for making this choice and to García for making it real and natural.

BROTHER TO DRAGONS is all around a very impressive accomplishment!

To see interior art and to order, please click here.

August 8, 2010
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