ArtCrush: Dale Lazarov
A while back, I caught up with Dale Lazarov to talk about the timeless erotic allure of graphic art.
Your style of storytelling is wordless – you let the images do the talking. Why does wordless storytelling appeal to you?
Wordless storytelling in comics is more immersive. People dwell on the image and read the facial expression and body language - imagine trying to do that with the average porn clip with the sound turned down.
What appeals to you about comics and graphic art that make this the right medium to tell your stories?
Ultimately, it’s a function of comics as a narrative form that it can present and represent the intimate and the subjective experience of sexuality.
Pin-ups, photos, and video clips can’t – they depend on the spectacular or objective for its hotness. Fan-art depends on the viewer to view it with the borrowed hotness of a context of another medium.
The gay erotic fan art of, say, Tom Hardy fucking Venom, depends on the presence of your fandom for the intimacy of that coupling, and if you haven’t seen the movie you don’t have it.
Comics are able to represent both the intimate and the spectacular and we have the complete freedom to not endorse toxic masculinity or homonormative conventions while representing a spectrum of masculinity, colour, age, fetish, and relationship styles.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
At this point, I have multiple places – my own history, what the artists want to draw, what I respond to in the culture around me, and what I want to see in gay erotic comics that I haven’t yet seen.
What’s your creative process?
Usually I start with a pitch – whether it’s inspired by an artist’s work, the canon of gay narrative art, or my ambition to represent something I haven’t seen. Most of the time, I write with an artist in mind after they’ve accepted the pitch of the project.
The men that feature in your stories generally seem to be fairly every-day kind of guys. Is that a deliberate aesthetic that you’re going for?
I just like a diversity of men, and we have the opportunity to represent them. They are erotically idealised, but they’re still within human possibility. The men in my work are more every-day guys compared to Japanese Bara manga or butch daddy videos - things get very samey in those.
Which are some of your favourite characters or stories that you’ve created?
Fast Friends and Pardners have my best character-based scripts.
Manly was the first book that crystallised the sophistication of what we can do in comics that no one else has tried to do. Carnal shows that we can still do it in a collection of three short stories even though we’ve moved to single-story graphic novels.
Super Creeps! and Adversaries! show we can even do it with superhero tropes.
Greek Love and Peacock Punks are the most shameless fuck-fests that I’ve written.
What sort of feedback do you get your stories?
One fellow in France told me my books inspired him to start dating again after twenty years of self-imposed spinsterhood. Another told me that my artists and I surpass Tom of Finland for story basis alone. Another said that they couldn’t imagine living in the world without the healthy implications of the comics I publish. All of this makes my heart sing.
If someone was interested in creating an erotic comic or an erotic graphic novel, what advice or guidance would you give them?
If it doesn’t turn you on and if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it shows up in the story and art.
What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?
A sense that being gay is wholesome, that gay art can be smart, that gay sex is possible at any age, for any colour, for any body-type, and that same-sex love depends on the context of a relationship, whether it’s congenial, romantic or adventuresome.