May 21, 2017
Tom of Finland
I was particularly drawn to a series of non-verbal, single-panel comics featuring macho icons like bikers, cops, lumberjacks, and cowboys, impossibly muscular and impossibly well endowed, interacting with each other. Aggressive, athletic, and masculine, they were a sharp contrast to the contemporary mass media depictions of gay men as soft, willowy sissies.
They all had the same "look": they had wavy hair, Castro Clone moustaches, long faces, and square jaws. They were always smiling, enjoying every moment of their lives.
There was no homophobia in this world, but not much gay culture, either. Not many gay rights marches or meetings of the Gay Activists Alliance, not a lot of scenes set on Christopher Street. Impossibly muscular, impossibly well endowed men interacted in police stations, gas stations, army barracks, tattoo parlors, in the woods. It was a raw, primal world of same-sex desire. I had never seen anything like it.
By the time I discovered him, in the 1980s, Tom was falling out of favor. His work was not political enough, ignored homophobia and AIDS, and portrayed gay men as obsessed with sex. Besides, it set the bar for male beauty impossibly high, ruining the self-esteem of those who didn't fit his rigid standards of age, size, and body type.
Ok, but sometimes you just want to look at hot guys.
See also: Sean and the World of Gay Leathermen; The Mystery of Cavelo; and Gay Comics of the 1980s.