by Jim Provenzano
Dale Lazarov, the Chicago-based writer of several popular gay erotic comic books, will discuss his sexy new book, Nightlife, at Books Inc. on February 11 at 7:30pm.
We talked on the phone recently, and Lazarov explained his collaborative work with several acclaimed comic artists, including Bastien Jonsson, whose sexy illustrations comprise the visuals of Nightlife.
Lazarov's appearance will include a question and answer session and book signing. He won't be reading from his comic books, since they don't contain dialogue. "I suppose if I were to read, I would have to mime the comics," he mused.
"Theatre culture has taken over book culture," he said of some other more performative authors. "A book is now more of a memento of a performance."
Lazarov is best known as the writer/editor of Sticky (in collaboration with illustrator Steve MacIsaac) and Manly (in collaboration with Amy Colburn), both published by Bruno Gmuender Verlag. He's also the writer/editor of Fancy, a gay erotic web comic drawn by Delic Van Loond and published weekly at AdultWebcomics.com. Other projects include work with Foxy Andy on Chums, Theo Bain on Greek Love, and Mioki on Power Pop Boys.
Nightlife was Lazarov's first book where he put out a call for artists, he said, adding that he enjoys collaborating with different artists for each project. "It takes about two years for an artist to draw a book," he said. "I realized that if I wanted to do more work, I needed more collaborators."
Lazarov posted a call for artists on a few comic blogs and Baskin answered. "I went to his website and responded very strongly to his work. It was different than people I'd worked with before," said Lazarov. "He was the first person to approach me that had a more mainstream superhero style. A gay comics readership would appreciate a style, which does have an impact on how people relate to the work. I sent him a pre-existing script, he responded well to it, so I wrote two more scripts for the book."
Lazarov cites what he calls "a combination of carnality and sweetness" in Nightlife, and an air of "friendly romanticism" which includes the graphic erotic visuals.
"The sex is shameless," Lazarov said. "You get to see everything without getting extreme sexual behavior. More important was the tone, the feeling. The first story in Nightlife provides a fantasy of a gay community, but it's one that I have."
"A full comic script is like a screenplay," Lazarov explained. "I imagine a page visually, a few panels at a time, then choreograph the action. The artist is free to interpret the script, but I tell him which moment would work in each situation. By and large my collaborators rarely add panels."
The lack of dialogue has helped expand Lazarov's work beyond language borders. "Telling a story without words or captions makes me tell a story that doesn't need them. It's all based on body language and visual story-telling, involving the sequencing of the moment. There's a skill to writing facing pages so they work with each other and writing the last panel on the right hand page so people have to flip the page."
"For better or worse, I'm a very visual person," said Lazarov. "I can describe things well in writing. When I read erotica, if the prose style isn't beautiful or elegant, I can't get into it. Not to say that I haven't read porn that isn't written well.
"First, you have to write what they want to draw. It's kind of like a pitch. Lazarov is currently working on the second volume of Nightlife, and he said he'd like to have a more classical scene like classic erotica. We can't do fantasy art, so I tried to use those ideas in a contemporary context. There's a story in the next Nightlife that's set in a Scandinavian festival. I threw a challege at Bastian, an eight-page stripper scene with the stripper dressed like a Viking and I put some ancient Scandinavian stuff in it for him, too.""
Until that volume's out, you can enjoy the first lustful display in Nightlife.
Dale Lazarov will be at Books Inc, on Thursday, February 11 at 7:30 p.m. 2275 Market St. at Noe. 864 – 6777. www.booksinc.net
For more on Lazarov's work, visit www.brunogmuender.com/authors/details/id/30/search/dale+lazarov/