Howdy folks! Welcome to another creator interview, this time with the writer of “smart, wholesome gay comics smut,” Dale Lazarov. Join me after the jump for the good stuff.
Here at The Gravy Age we are dedicated to spreading the word about people out there doing what we love the most, making comics, whether that is family friendly stuff like our previous interview with Brian Du Pont or taking a trip to check out something I frankly wasn’t familiar with like Dale’s work. We love comics, we love people making comics, and we love pointing people towards cool folks. (It took everything in my power not to name this post The Gay-vy Age Presents)
The Gravy Age: First things first, how about an introduction, who is Dale Lazarov?
Dale Lazarov: I write, edit and art direct gay comics smut published in hardcover by Bruno Gmünder Verlag (a German gay art book publisher) and in digital format through Selz. My website is at http://www.dalelazarov.com/ (NSFW!). I’ve been doing this for ten years, so, as of this writing, I have 5 hardcovers and 19 digital editions of gay comics smut for sale. I live in Chicago.
TGA: How did you get into writing comics?
DL: Steve MacIsaac asked me to write gay comics smut for him because he liked my short fiction. It turns out he tapped an undiscovered talent (pun unintended) so I continued writing and editing gay erotic comics with other equally distinctive and evocative gay erotic illustrators like Amy Colburn, Bastian Jonsson & Yann Duminil, Alessio Slonimsky, Adam Graphite, Michael Broderick, Chas Hunter & Si Arden, Drub, and many more that are currently on the drawing board.
TGA: What is the difference between ‘smut’ and ‘erotica’ or is there one really? Is smut more sexually explicit, or is erotica just a way of trying to sanitize sex a bit?
DL: I find the distinction’s one of “porn is not respectable/erotica is respectable”. I find this distinction problematic so I gently avoid it by labelling our work “smart, wholesome gay comics smut.” The quality of the work speaks for itself so I don’t feel I have to “upscale” it with a respectability label.
TGA: What do you have out that’s new and exciting?
DL: I just published, in digital format, “Second Chances“, a one-off gay erotic comic drawn by Foxy Andy and colored by William O. Tyler. It’s now on sale at http://www.dalelazarov.com/ . Coming up in Spring 2015 is the hardcover edition of FAST FRIENDS, a gay erotic graphic novel drawn by illustrator Michael Broderick which I published in digital format last June.
TGA: Your books are available digitally (as DRM free PDF’s) as well as hardcover collections, do you find that digital has been good for smut?
DL: Oh, publishing the work digitally motivates my collaborators to work faster since I can publish digitally at any time. Digital publishing sucks for smut otherwise as digital distributors, thanks to the influence of PayPal and Apple, and, of late, Amazon, act like they don’t have freedom of the press the way that print publishing does. Selz is my third digital distributor and I refused to sign with them unless their CEO would agree in writing that they wouldn’t kick me off due to pressure from a credit card server. The interference of conservative credit card servers is the reason why Gumroad and Ribbon dumped me.
TGA: There is a very loud segment of the comics community that is not exactly known for being inclusive and accepting, have you taken shit from people for what you do? Or are you niche enough that you stay off their radar?
DL: Actually, comic cognoscenti do get what we do, I am glad to report. Some of our best reviews have come from het guys and women.
I find that gay comics self-appointed gatekeepers tend to shy away from promoting smut because they want to be inoffensive and/or mainstream and/or respectable and/or focus on promoting people with whom they have a vested interest in promoting because they represent their culture for comics and/or they have a conflict-of-interest since they’re also publishing them. I mean, have you noticed that PRISM Comics always gets tagged within the same paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence, with Northwest Press? I don’t know why PRISM hasn’t lost their non-profit status since the association is so transparent.
When it comes to *fandom*, though, it’s really got nothing to do with the material on its own terms. I don’t think our gay comics smut is singled out in a way that’s different from how they’d single out something outside of whatever monoculture a particular comics community is attached to as their culture. The responses are articulated differently because of how they’ve been socialized. Cape-only folks have predictably fight-or-flight responses. Team Indy Comix folks look like they’ve been paralyzed by having witnessed a crime or a floating dookey.
I know I am weird because I have always read across genres so I find closed-mindedness and/or hoarding-of-legitimacy and/or arguing-for-a-genre-“normal” puzzling and needlessly tribal. I mean, just this week — not including my Wednesday pile — I got halfway through Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? and started re-reading the Ostrander/Mandrake run on The Spectre. My next graphic novel read is En Italia Son Todos Machos [In Italia sono tutti maschi/In Italy Everyone Is Manly], the Spanish translation of an Italian gay-themed graphic novel by de Santis/Colaone which unfortunately has not been translated into English.
TGA: Where can people find you and your comics?
DL: The hardcovers are sold on Amazon and other online booksellers. The digital comics are sold through Selz. You can access both kinds of editions through my website. I do ask people to buy the digital editions as we get far more of the cover price but, to be honest, I totally get the value of a hardcover with fine art paper, which is why I/we continue publishing through Gmünder.
Note that very few comic stores carry my work mainly because I am published by a book publisher so you have to have a bookstore distribution account to get our books and, to have a bookstore distributor account, you have to have a financial structure in place that comic book stores usually don’t need if they only do business with Diamond.
TGA: Any advice for someone looking to get into comics or smut or smut comics?
DL: Oh, if you write and edit well and get along well with artists, show artists your writing. If you draw well but struggle with writing, collaborating with a writer/editor can bring out the best in you or work from you you didn’t know you could draw. So much depends on the context of relatedness for a collaboration.
TGA: Are there any creators you feel more people should check out?
DL: I hate making recommendations because I want people to buy MY comics. 😀 But I’ll tell you: I am most surprised by how much I enjoy Rise of The Magi by Marc Silvestri and Sumeyye Kesgin. And my favorite gay comics smut artist who is too busy with his own smut to collaborate with me is Butch McLogic.
Thanks to Dale for taking this opportunity to talk with me, he awesomely just started calling me KP like we had known each other for years. Go check out his extremely NSFW site, I’m seriously impressed by the art on these books, he has worked with some great artists.Also, sorry if the formatting is a little off on this one, it was giving me problems for some reason. As always, if you are a creator and you would like to talk to The Gravy Age, let me know and we can make it happen. Oh, and if you have something shitty to say about us featuring a gay creator or gay comics here, by all means, type it out, print 10 copies, crumple them into a ball and fuck yourself with them.