Billed as “Beefy pinups with a geeky twist” Jeremy Owen offers a book aimed at bears and the men who love them. There’s reason his name likely sounds unfamiliar to you as it did to me. Burly is his first project, but don’t let that put you off. Everybody has to start somewhere.
Owen’s interest in comics began as it did with many kids, from watching Super Friends. Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern were favorites. Can I say something? It feels good to know someone else didn’t fall in love with and twirl like Wonder Woman in their childhood. His attention turned to Marvel’s X-Men and Spider-man and Image when it came to actual comics though, and during his college days indy comics gained in appeal. After Owen came out he was disappointed in comics’ lack of bear characters. That disappointment turned around at the discoveries of Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf (a book I’ve yammered about plenty) and Steve MacIsaac’s Shirtlifter (a book I should yammer about). After a friend made a girlie pinup book Owen decided it was time to do a bear geek beefcake version. I say good for him for taking the initiative instead of waiting for someone else to do it! I’ve lost count over the number of times I’ve read gay fans complain about gay characters (and the lack of same) at Marvel and DC or the very detailed qualities of their perfect superhero ideals. There’s still a long road ahead, guys, and every reason to encourage diversity (it isn’t any ugly word like Republicans want Americans to believe) from small press, indy, and webcomics people while waiting for your ideal superhero to appear.
On to the book! Owen uses a variety of pop culture references (Trekkies, luchadores, sci fi, metal rockers) rather than the standard fare like cowboys and cops. Well, there is a mechanic (which is fine by me) and as Owen points out, he’s a
steampunk mechanic (still fine by me). He’s the deservedly so centerfold! As a collection of pinups there is no written narrative, just some descriptive, suggestive text to nudge readers along into making their own stories using the visuals as springboards. On the art side, Owen’s thick-lined style is on the mark for drawing burly guys in suitably dynamic, restive, and playful compositions with a range of personalities. There is a little frisky, teasing nudity totally in character for the tone of the book.
If you’re a bear or bear lover then head over to the Burly site. Burly is a limited edition so don’t wait! And keep an eye on him for an interesting future project drawing elements from several genres.