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Night Twink

Shane Rivett’s Night Twink webcomic follows a freshly costumed teenage male amidst the new trend of celebrity superheroes. Night Twink tossed the idea of fame aside when he realized the need to protect his fellow gay men on the streets of Prymus City. A gay basher is using a hookup app to lure gay men of this fictional British city to late night cruising areas. It seems like a simple case of gay bashing until an unexpected development gets a friend of Wil’s, Night Twink’s alter ego, landed in jail, drawing the young hero into a mystery that casts mayoral candidate Sydney Snodgrass in a doubtful light. As if one mystery isn’t enough for Night Twink, Rivett adds another with a masked bald man playing some part in the bashings. Along the way Night Twink runs into a genetically modified “Panther Boi” (one of several) who’s recently escaped a male sex slaver. Intuition and years of reading comics tells me all of them are connected and if so, the why remains to be discovered.

An appealing part of Wil’s character is a similarity to Peter Parker. True, he isn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, but he has a somewhat ordinary life at home with his father and two younger brothers. I use the qualifier “somewhat” because the one time Rivett shows Wil’s father he’s drawn unflatteringly as a passed out drunk. Having grown up with an alcoholic father I can say that it’s far from ordinary and there can be a lot of opportunity for character building from Wil’s point of view as well as possibly inspiring his own father to be a better person. Also admirable is the fact that Wil is loyal to his friends and the at large gay community of the city. Justice motivates him to become a hero, but he isn’t so completely altruistic that he turns down offers of sex coming his way as Night Twink.

The matter of stereotypes comes up with the deliberate use of “twink” in the main character’s name. I’m not automatically against the stereotypes as they can be a useful tool for a writer or artist to explore and affect our perceptions about ourselves and others. Other characters in the series can be seen as fitting into one of several categories, for the most part either twink, bear, or big drag queen. The furtive masked antagonist has a hatred for twinks for a reason still unknown. The slaver who owns the Panther Bois, shown only in silhouette, has a beefy body; the Panther Bois are all twinks. Madama La Fearce, Night Twink’s confidante, like so many real world drag quuens literally looms large while giving sage advice. I’m interested to learn where Rivetts goes with these dynamics.

Rivett’s dedication to his series is admirable. He does everything from writing and drawing to coloring and lettering on Night Twink and another webcomic, Heroes of the World and Beyond , which preceded this one and seems set in the same fictional world. While both comics share the same world and ideas may play parts in both, like Rivett’s notion of “trans humans” like the “Panther Boi”, it appears readers can enjoy them separately.

A few notes on the visual side. Rivetts’ art is linear and stylistically representational, concentrating on figures and rendering backgrounds as decorative space. The art is complemented by the use of mostly flat coloring though at times the color palette might benefit from being less muted and dark. His figures show a basic understanding of anatomy though foreshortening seems to be a bit problematic. The width of the format here seems to be a requirement of the host site Webtoons. That’s usually the case with webcomics and hosts. Rivetts makes the best of it in his layouts, page 10 as an example comes to mind, though occasionally the constraint wins out.

Night Twink’s costume is sexualized as much as many female heroes and I’m okay with all the exposed skin if only because turnabout seems fair play. Well, it also reminds me of Nightwing. Comic book villains so frequently are drawn to call attention to their natures with glaring traits and affectations. Can you imagine Joker or Red Skull looking as normal as Bruce Wayne or Steve Rogers? Neither can I though my personal preference is for villains not to look so obvious. It’s no different here with Sydney Snodgrass and it ought to be obvious to the citizens of Prymus City that he isn’t a saint. Then again, Trump appears to be a such a blatantly villainous caricature and lots of Americans were taken in by him. And you’ll have to excuse me on that last note because not viewing villains through a “Trump filter” is a real challenge right now.

Give Night Twink a read! It’s currently up to episode 15 so catching up should won’t be a time consuming chore! Click the subscribe button to stay up to date!

Art by Shane Rivetts. All rights reserved.

 

December 17, 2016
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