Steve MacIsaac Shirtlifter #3

ISBN 13: 9780979134920

Shirtlifter #3

4.44 avg rating
( 27 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780979134920: Shirtlifter #3

The third issue of this award-winning series collects the first three chapters of MacIsaac's online serial "Unpacking", about the development of a relationship between a committment-phobic graphic designer and a corporate executive who isn't quite everything he seems. This third volume also features contributions from Justin Hall (Hard to Swallow) and a new cartoonist named Fuzzbelly. Hall's contribution is an excerpt from his upcoming graphic novel "The Liar", while Fuzzbelly's is an autobiographical rumination on eroticism.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Steve MacIsaac was the illlustrator for STICKY, his collaboration with Dale Lazarov, published by Bruno Gmuender in 2006. His work has been featured in the anthologies The Book of Boy Trouble and The Book of Boy Trouble 2, True Porn, Best Erotic Comics 2008, and Stripped, in addition to the two previous volumes of his SHIRTLIFTER series.

Review:

Shirtlifter #3 is something of a departure from the previous issues. It's an anthology, featuring works by three creators and it's also colored in tones of gray and green, unlike the previous issue which was full color. All three stories are thematically linked in the sense that they're all about the ways in which people use sex for emotional fulfilment. Fuzzbelly's simply drawn story "F Buds" is a sweet and charming story about a guy who doesn't like most porn comics, or most porn in general because it's so unrealistic, not about real people like his "f&*# buddy", whom he likes because he's just a regular Joe and not hung like a bull. The ending has a punch line that I won't spoil. Justin Hall's "Liar" is an excerpt from a larger forthcoming work and focuses on a young man who's a vagabond and falls into a relationship with somebody who's just a little obsessive. It looks interesting, and I'll probably pick up a copy at a later date. Steve MacIsaac's "Unpacking" follows the story of a man named Matt who just broke up with Michael, his spouse of several years. We never see Michael, who has moved across the country, but his "ghost" colors every aspect of Matt's life. Matt doesn't want to talk to Michael at all, but pretty much everybody he talks to, amongst his group of friends, constantly asks him to "say hi" to Michael. It also doesn't help that Matt's two best friends are a couple that are very happy and recently bought a house which they've remodelled. Their cozy domesticity contrasts with Matt's bleak apartment, full of boxes. Matt's been drowning his frustrations in a lot of casual sex, and ends up in a relationship with a married man who's in town for an extended business. The problem is, the sex is great, and he and Matt click, but he's not leaving his wife and doesn't consider himself gay. The story ends with them trying to figure out exactly what they want from each other and what the realistic boundaries for their relationship is. And unlike the other issues of Shirtlifter, in this story the encounters between Matt and his quasi-boyfriend are intentionally erotic. Other than the fact that they're done as comics, all of these stories read and feel a lot like anything else I'd find in an anthology of contemporary short fiction: the good stuff. --Katherine Keller, Sequential Tart

With this third issue of Shirtlifter, author Steve MacIsaac shakes things up a bit: not only does this issue include the first part of a long work (when the previous issues were collections of short stories), but it also presents shorter works by two other artists.
The first three chapters of Unpacking are included in this issue. First published online and now reworked for print publication, this story follows the days and nights of Matt, a newly single guy whose boyfriend left him a few months ago, after eight years together. Matt is a large, built, hairy man (like a lot of MacIsaac's characters) who favors the same in other men. Preferably in unattached, sex-oriented men, since Matt definitely doesn't want to launch into another relationship. MacIsaac creates fully rounded characters, especially with Matt and Conner, a guy he hooks up with, who turns out to be married to a woman, and only looking for no-strings sex with men. Over the course of the 60 pages of this story, which will be continued in the next two issues, the reader is treated to the non-manichean portrait of conflicting opinions: Matt is accused by his coupled friends of self-internalised homophobia for having sex with a (mostly) straight man, Conner claims that two men can't love each other--but enjoys having sex with Matt, while Matt tries to find a middle road between his own values, his rejection of any possibility of a relationship, and his sexual attraction toward Conner. What's interesting is that MacIsaac doesn't preach any gospel, but lets each character speaks his mind, and lets the reader form an opinion. The end of this part of the story leaves the characters in a very interesting place, and I'm really curious to know where they'll go from there.
The first guest artist is newcomer Fuzzbelly (see his blog for cute bear images), a bear guy who does a little meta-story about his trying to do a story for the comic, while musing on the lack of realism in gay porn portrayal of blue collar men (big surprise, there). He has a good, loose cartoony style that brings a lot of warmth to his self-portrayal, as well as as an engaging sense of humor.
The second guest is Justin Hall, whose comics I've often reviewed here. There's an old tradition in literature magazines of presenting excerpts from works in progress, and that's exactly what Hall is doing here: The Liar is a long narrative from which we get twenty pages, with an apparently care-free young man hitching a ride, having sex with the driver...but this isn't some cheap, erotic scenario. The young man is shown telling two different versions of his life to two men, for no apparent reasons. This excerpt is very intriguing, and I hope we'll soon see more of this.
This new issue of Shirtlifter is the thickest one yet, with its 88 pages. The production values (thick, glossy paper, a spine) make it look more like a highbrow magazine than a little zine, and yet it retains its strength, its pertinence, and its very personal point of view. --François Peneaud - Gay Comics List

This is a an 88-page perfect bound comic from creator Steve MacIsaac, published by his Drawn, Out Press. It's the $10.95 latest in a one-man anthology series started in 2007, although there's now more than one man involved, in that bonus strips are included, so I guess it's more one man in charge of a small anthology. I noticed it got the fearsome 'A' designation on Diamond's shipping list the week it hit stores, so you mght have to look for it on your favorite shelf of smut (or, you know, order it online from the artist).
And there is indeed a good deal of explicit sex in this comic, all of it between men, and presented in such a way that I get the feeling that the work is at least partially intended as erotica. I'll cop to not responding to that aspect of the work much, but MacIssac isn't interested in sex for sex's sake anyway even if some of his characters are. The artist is more taken with the oscillation of sex between an activity of sheer pleasure and an aspect of identity: something that carries as much force when contemplated as when it's experienced, although the two powers don't always play together nicely.
As such, this issue features chapters 1-3 of MacIssac's Unpacking, a serial (originally a webcomic) that will continue through issue #5. The plot concerns Matt, a Vancouver graphic designer who's been sleeping among moving boxes even since a longterm relationship went to pieces. He attends a housewarming party and accepts the concerns of friends, but most of the passion in his life is facilitated by Studhunter.com - lots of hotel rooms, lots of business cards to toss in a drawer in his unfinished apartment. The metaphor, as you can tell, is already quite unpacked.
But then Matt hooks up with 'Aussie Muscle,' a middle-aged fellow in town for a while on business, and an almost preternaturally talented lover, considering that he's married to a woman and resists all homosexual labeling, and claims to have never had sex with a man before the age of 40. Matt sticks around -- the guy is the best f#@! he's had in a good while -- but it soon becomes apparent that his nominally straight lover views the gay encounters he (gleefully) takes part in through a distinctly heterosexist gaze, unwilling to accept that gay relationships can amount to anything that cannot be summarized and effectively contained by Studhunter.com.
The trick is, the man's cluelessness leads him unwittingly into wanting 'relationship' things -- going to hockey games, having a cookout, etc. -- which causes Matt to bristle, in that he's also trying to avoid having a relationship, in his own way, though his desires seem to reinforce a lot of suddenly vocalized stereotypes.
MacIsaac reserves a lot of space for conversation in this book; long chains of word balloons often run parallel down or across the page, tit for tat in a somewhat stylized, 'writerly' manner. The storytelling is at its best when kept close to the stuff of sex - the slow awkwardness of post-coital chit-chat rubbing on exposed nerves, or the mixed signals given off when one partner is getting a lot more out of it than the other. The work even delves into a little graphic flair via the latter scenario, as one partner's dirty talk becomes covered by transparent images of other people, as the second partner tries to work through suitable fantasies on the way to a feasible climax.
Mostly, though, MacIsaac's visuals are just adequate. His style is subdied, with layouts of squares and rectangles, and scenes heavy on shadows for environmental or emotional effect. Nearly every male character sports a similarly muscular he-man build, unless the plot mandates some emphasis on his youth. I suspect this is either personal preference or an aspect of the comic as erotica, but it causes trouble when MacIsaac's grip on the character art wavers. --Joe McCulloch - Joglikescomics.blogspot.com

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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