Paul Tobin clearly had a lot of curse words pent up in his head. The YA novelist and comic book writer, best known for teenage burglar capers in the comic series Bandette, or a variety of all-ages graphic amusements like How To Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees, goes for an unfettered R-rating in Made Men, his new comic with Arjuna Susini and Gonzalo Duarte from Oni Press. Virtually every page is splattered with blood and gore, and there are more eff-bombs in this first issue than in an entire volume of Preacher. The matter-of-fact “It’s raining blood and meat” is an early first-person narrative caption. So, yeah. A bit different from I Was the Cat.
In recent years there has been some scholarly discussion regarding the real-life historical origins of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, including insight that suggests that it may have been Robert Godwinson’s sexual preference that led both to the outlaw’s exile as well as the naming of his band of brothers. Robin Hood and his Gay Guyfriends, or The Queer Quiver of Nottinghamshire, may have also been thrown around. I’m glad Merry Men stuck. It’s a helluva good band name. And a great title for the new Oni Press book from Robert Rodi, Jackie Lewis, and Marissa Louise.
The book is far more than just an opportunity to see burly dudes making out in the forest, however. It’s an interesting slice of history, showcasing Medieval England during the decades immediately following the Norman conquest. And in addition to challenging the conceptions regarding Robin’s orientation, the book also challenges the folkloric tradition that romanticizes these Merry Men as being nothing more than humble thieves, robbing from the rich and all that. This first issue features some arrows through throats, dastardly assassinations, and the tainted soul of the enigmatic is-she-a-she-or-isn’t-she Scarlet. You know, great comic book stuff.
It also totally has burly dudes making out in the forest.
Additionally, each issue promises historical profiles, delving into “The Queer History of England,” with an inaugural biography on Alcuin of York. And expect to learn more about Richard the Lionheart, the English king who has become something of a gay icon; the storyline suggests that Robin’s troubles may have begun in the royal bedchamber. Also, as great as Jackie Lewis’s standard cover is, for my money nothing beats that Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf) variant. Little John, “master of the quarterstaves” indeed. Continue reading New Comics: Merry Men→