My first exposure to Wuvable Oaf happened when I picked up the second volume of Boy Trouble from Obelisk while on a short trip to San Diego and Tijuana. Luce’s story was a short three pager, and it stood out as one of several of stories I enjoyed. The writing was funny and Oaf’s bearish appearance brought him to the forefront. Distractions reared after finishing Boy Trouble and I didn’t follow up on it until Dale Lazarov casually mentioned it. So I placed an order and then forgot about it till Mr. Mail Carrier dropped it in my mail one day.
Seeing the manila envelope in my mailbox made me excited, but I also wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure that one strip was funny, but writing comedy is difficult and not so successful jobs can be at the very least awkward and at worst painful to read. Could the humor be sustained rather than strained? My other concern stemmed from not being a part of the bear community: would I really be able to relate to Oaf? The answers to both questions are yes, thank you very much.
Through a series of short stories and one paged strips in the zero issue Luce introduces the usually amiable Oaf and his friends Lil’ Papa, Smusher, Bufu, and Dorissey. They’re all fun characters in their own rights.
Oaf has had a long streak of bad luck in the romance department just like a lot of other gay men. Well, okay, maybe just me. Never mind. Oaf’s misfortunes are humorous and relatable. In the zero issue’s opener Oaf joins muchomachomusclebrothers.com. Luce uses a nifty trick in one panel to give readers insight by showing Oafie’s “interests” and “about me” sections (kittens, dolls, The Smiths and 80s alt bands) of his profile. Sure, it violates the writer’s rule of “show, don’t tell” except Luce does show us many of Oaf’straits. Several nude photo mishaps (several of Oafie’s cats get in the pics) and 42 messages from horny guys later Oaf gives up. It just isn’t in his character to have anonymous sex so instead he spends the night with Lil’ Papa watching Fairuza Balk in The Craft.
In another short, Oafie gets a late night call from Lil’ Papa to come help him while his cat Ms. Siouxsie gives birth and the newly born kittens see Oaf as a stand in mother. Tattooed Smusher shows some kids on the street his dance skills (Oops! There goes my shirt up over my head! Oh my! Oops! There goes my skirt dropping to the floor!). It had me laughing out loud just like the Project Runway spoof starring fashionista-in-his-own-right Bufu did.
Also introduced here is Eiffel, the relatively small and totally surly front man for a band named the Ejaculoids. He and band members Olaph, Udaho, and Izeed show up for a quick satire on artsy fartsy album design. While fun, the story initially seemed out of place until their importance, or rather Eiffel’s, becomes apparent after seeing them in the first issue. More on Eiffel in a bit.
The first issue (this is a little confusing because I keep mentally referring to it as the second one) has one long piece, “Oaf’s Story”, divided into three chapters with two one page installments of “Worst Date Ever”.
If only DC had printed something this funny and gay instead of those “Cap’s Hobby Hints” in some of their Silver Age comics my young self might’ve figured out sooner why I stared at Ultra Boy and Element Lad so much.
Oafie loves cats and cats love Oafie. You know how cats are. All they seem to do is climb, paw, stretch, sleep, snuggle, lick themselves, or throw up hairballs. Now toss a big and affable bear guy into the mix and it makes for a scene that’s funny, gross, and believably true to life. And that’s all I can say without giving it away. As Oaf goes on about his day we learn that he’s passionate about designing and hand sewing cute yet creepy furry dolls. Amusing encounters happen to Oaf at the gym. One steroid bunny learns you don’t diss Morrissey if you want anything from Oaf!
Remember Eiffel? While standing on the corner and grossing out a spoiled brat of little girl (Yay!) Oafie spies Eiffel and is immediately transfixed by the churlish looking guy. Eiffel disappears before Oafie has a chance to approach. Two more near close encounters by the end of the story has Oaf swearing “I will meet this Eiffel…and he will be mine!” Sparks will fly, but will it be love or the clash between Eiffel’s caustic personality and Oaf’s good-natured spirit? Or will they ever meet?
Before I forget, there’s a scene where three gay twinks verbally harass Oafie as they drive by him on the street. I can’t tell you how Oafie handles them, but it’s hysterical! Anyone who’s ever been humiliated like this should try it and turn the tables. And bonus points to Luce for working in a reference to Saint Jadwiga (or Hedwig), patron saint of queens!
So I’ve rambled on about the story and not mentioned anything about the art. Luce’s style, in keeping with the tone of his writing, is in a cartoon vein. It’s all about line and form. Gay readers who’ve complained about the lack of body hair in superhero comics should take not that there is a great abundance of it here. Let’s hope Luce doesn’t develop carpal tunnel from drawing so much of it.
Obviously I found Luce’writing to be funny, but it was also refreshing to see the world from a different perspective. True, bears can be found in quality erotic comics from Steve MacIsaac, Dale Lazarov, and others. Luce’s approach is rooted in humor, a small dose of satire without bitchiness (is this a dying art?), and dare I say it, wuvableness. Kudos to Luce for embracing bear characteristics with Oafie and transcending them in style. I hope non-bear readers will be open to the idea of reading Wuvable Oaf.
Wuvable Oaf is available from wuvableoaf.com . A cute personal touch is the kitty face stickers instead of tape to seal the bags shut.