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Nightlife

nightlifeDale Lazarov
Bastian Jonsson
Yann Duminil colorist
$33.99 ($22.43 at Amazon as of 11/5/2009)
Bruno Gmünder publisher

Erotic writer Dale Lazarov returns for another romp with a trio of gay themed stories, this time with artist Bastian Jonsson and Yann Duminil showing his coloring talent. As with previous work (Manly with artist Amy Colburn) and Sticky (with Steve MacIssac), Lazarov concentrates on creating detailed scripts without dialog while placing full faith in the artist to bring his characters, scenes, and situations to life, both on the four color page and in the reader’s mind. Lazarov has a discerning eye when choosing his artistic collaborators otherwise the successful realization of his creative vision would be hobbled.

Like Manly and Sticky before it, Nightlife is a collection of three stories pairing men in a variety of situations. In the first, Hard Cases, two bears are caught up in the creative energy of an open mic night at the Tailpiece Bar and everyone is rocking to the music (I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the guy dancing in his jock). Music may be in their hearts, but their minds are fixed on enjoying each other’s bodies. Not a second is wasted starting their sensual celebration once they’ve arrived at the first singer’s apartment. Bad weather cancels a number of late night flights in Layover, providing the impetus for two strangers to forsake the loneliness of an airport bar for a late dinner followed by sex, sex, and more hot sex and a few hours of “hold him close” sleep. A closing image of the men in trunks walking along a beach shows us something sparked between them. Now if only layovers in my life were like this. The one I had in Dallas after Comic Con was a mass of people milling through the airport, scarfing some Quarter-pounder, and curling up with Sina Grace’s Dial M For magic (perfectly worth reading y the way) in a hotel room that I gladly took as a “distressed traveler.” Closing Time, the last of the trio, as the title implies begins in a bar. A young punk hooks up with a goth guy about the same age and are making out in an alley way when three straight guys start to bash them. A knight in shining armor, wearing the guise of the silver fox muscle daddy doorman threatens the would be bashers with a baseball bat, earning the gratitude of our little punk who’d flipped off the doorman not long before. A hug, a smile, a little chat, they all lead back to the punk’s tres cluttered studio. Jonsson perfectly renders an “oh how do I get out of this” expression on the older man’s face before succumbing to the younger man’s surprise charming manner and a little leather dress up. Yes, there’s more hot sex that follows, and there’s a very clever trick that shows this mismatched pair pursue and make a relationship together. Actually, all three stories end with imagery using time and motion (or lack of it) to underscore the differences of each pairing. The first is a one night fling, ending with one guy sitting on a speeding subway. In the second one, the pair of men slowly walk together along a beach, but they’ll walk off the panel, their romance lasting for a time. The last couple are happily planted in a sunny kitchen going through early morning rituals together.

Jonsson’s very capable of drawing sexy and sensual (and hairy) men in and out of clothes, whether standing around, cruising, or exploring each other’s bodies with joy and abandon. Most critical is his wondrous skill of conveying emotions and body language. These men smile and laugh while reveling in carnal celebration, surely a rare occurrence in erotica. Not only will you believe these men could exist, you’ll wish you’d run into one some day.

If you have read either Sticky or Manly then it will come as no surprise to you that Nightlife is also free of dialog and text. This word-free choice emancipates the artist, here the talented Jonsson, to use the entire panel without concern for word balloon and text box placement. As I noted in reviewing Manly the wordless stories make projecting oneself into the fantasy easier, or as this reviewer asserts, makes the work more interpretative by readers. And whose decision was it to censor that cover? Gosh. In my particular case I disagree with his assertion that Nightlife appeals more to the visually oriented person than the verbal. I’m a visual oriented person (having graduated from Chicago’s School of the Art Institute) and I appreciate these stories for their art and direction. Perhaps it’s due in part to my newly re-awakened libido (already much too much information) that I’d like very much to know what these men are saying to one another beyond the dead banter typical of porn, which I think is the last thing Lazarov wants his readers to consider his work being. At least I believe the work to be a celebration of sensuality and life. The other factor that plays to my desire for dialog is the finesse shining in Lazarov’s scripts. He makes me want more from his characters. Lazarov has talked about writing word-free stories, especially in regard to production choices with his German publisher. You can listen to this Deconstructing Comics podcast interview in which he discusses the challenges of writing both erotic and dialog free comics.

This is Lazarov’s third book from German publisher Gmünder. From a production standpoint its books are high quality and speaking a bit of a bookmaking geek, are objects of lust in themselves. Nightlife will be no different and will look beautiful on bookshelves for decades.

You may also like to read this review and a short-ish interview,  both of which are NSFW, but then neither is this page so close this window, read it from home, and hope you don’t get busted.

This book is available for pre-order at Amazon. Lazarov tells me it should be in stock soon.

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November 6, 2009
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