Feb 23, 2015

The Mystery of Cavelo

When I was in grad school at Indiana University, the only place you could get gay books and magazines was in the adult bookstore.  Of course, they had porn, too.

I was particularly drawn to two albums from Zeus Studios featuring wordless comics drawn by someone named Cavelo:

The Cavelo Portfolio (1979).
Hercules (1981).

He drew buffed, fully nude men in mild bondage and S&M situations, usually in the historic past: ancient Rome, the old West, the French foreign legion.

The models had amazingly ripped physiques, drawn darker and with much more contrast than the characters around them.

There was no sex, no activity of any sort.  Cavelo always depicted the men in the moment before.

He published three albums, plus cartoons and illustrations in six issues of Drummer magazine, all between 1978 and 1985.  A limited repertoire, compared to his contemporaries, Sean and Tom of Finland.

Then his work ended, leaving fans to wonder: where did this spectacular beefcake artist come from?  Where did he go?

Thirty years later, they are still wondering.

Recently many of the great gay artists who published anonymously during the 1970s and 1980s have been identified, their stories told, their contributions lauded.  But Cavelo remains a mystery.

We know only that he lived in Los Angeles, and his real name was Leon Carvalho.

There's a Leon Carvalho living in Los Angeles today, a marine recruiter.  Probably not the same one.

See also: Tom of Finland; Sean and the World of Gay Leathermen