In conjunction with Prism Comics, the preeminent website for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) comics and creators, every day this month I will be detailing one good comic book/graphic novel with LGBT themes.
Here's an archive of the featured works so far!
Today we look at a very good graphic novel collection of another comic strip!
Robert Kirby began doing his Curbside comic strip over SEVENTEEN YEARS ago, in various magazines, newspapers and zines.
His second collection of strips is the work I'm discussing here, it is titled Curbside Boys: The New York Years. It follows a character from the initial strips (which were more autobiographical stories), Nathan, and his adventures in New York (where he moves from Minnesota). The book revolves around two relationships, although there is a major focus upon one of the relationships which involves Nathan. The stories open when he moves in with two guys, Kevin and Drew.
Drew is a geeky writer who falls for Nathan pretty hard, and most of the comic details his and Nathan's quirky relationship (can a mysterious hunk end up with the nerdy guy?).
Kevin's burgeoning relationship with Rain gets some play, as well, and it is good, but the real focus of the book is Nathan and Drew. Kirby even draws himself into the book occasionally as Nathan's friend Rob who works as a bit of a Greek chorus for the story (Rob, naturally, was a major part of the early Curbside strips).
Kirby has a fun art style and tells a story well. The Curbside strip appeared bi-weekly, so these 120 strips containing the Nathan/Drew romance took up about...hmmm...I guess about 5 years, right? Is my math totally off? In any event, you really get the slow burn here, and it works nicely, as the relationship simmers until it hits a boiling point, and then we get to see what happens next.
Here is a fairly early scene where Drew and Kevin argue over Kevin letting Nathan read some of Drew's more personal work...
I especially enjoyed these two strips, where Nathan and Drew grow much closer...
And here, after they finally get together...
Just for balance, here's a cute one between Kevin and Rain...
Kirby tends to be a bit more loquacious than most cartoonists, but I don't mind it - I do mind when the wordiness results in cramped lettering, which happens more than a few times, but for the most part, it does not bug me.
The art is good but the real draw here is the interactions between the characters - they're all so relatable that it never feels like a soap opera - it feels like real life, and that's an impressive feat by Kirby with a fictional work.
If you'd like to buy Curbside Boys: The New York Years, you can from Cleiss Press here (they even include free shipping!).
I would send you a link to Kirby's bi-weekly strip, but just last month, after almost two decades of strips, Kirby decided to call it quits with Curbside.
Still, here is a link to his website. He's got plenty of other comic work you can read, although I'll admit, I'm not as familiar with them as I am with Curbside.