Class Comics create the kind of graphic art erotica that makes all my gay geek-boy fantasies come true.
I caught up with Patrick Fillion and Robert Fraser — the guys behind Class Comics — to talk about super-heroes, and the appeal of intensely sexual stories.
When did you discover your love for comics?
Patrick: I was around five-years-old when I first saw a Spider-Man comic and really enjoyed the format, but it wasn’t until I discovered the Uncanny X-Men that I truly fell head over heels for comics. It was issue #160, Storm and Nightcrawler were on the cover, and I was in heaven. From that point on I couldn’t get enough, and spent almost every penny I had as a kid buying comics.
Fraser: I remember picking up Archie digests in the superstore lineup before reading any super-hero floppies. Eventually, I was a DC kid who longed to join the Legion of Substitute Heroes. I still have a thing for red heads. It wasn’t until I met Patrick that I rediscovered my enjoyment of the genre.
When did you start to draw and develop your skills?
Patrick: My Mom says I was born with a pencil in hand, which is just to say that I’ve been drawing forever. I preferred drawing to playing with the other kids, and I really wanted to get better. I focused on learning anatomy, technique, and sequential layout pretty early on.
When did you and Patrick come together to create Class Comics?
Patrick: In grade school, I would draw comics and bring them to school so the other kids could read them. That’s how the name Class Comics came about, because the kids read them in the classroom.
When Fraser and I met in 2002, we quickly realised that we had a lot of complementary skills, and it made so much sense to go into business together. We were already dating, and that was going great, but I don’t think either one of us could have imagined what a fantastic business team we’d make. That’s pretty much when the Class Comics of today was born. It truly is our baby.
Fraser: Patrick and I met on a blind date — we were set up by a buddy who thought I might like the ‘cool gay guy’ he knew. The first time Patrick phoned me, I told him I couldn’t talk because Buffy was on. While I thought it was sealing my doom, it actually thrilled him, since he’s a Buffy fan. He was doing way too many things that kept him from drawing, so I took on anything that didn’t require me taking a pencil to paper.
What was the first Class Comics release?
Patrick: That’s tough to say. I think that our first official Class Comics release as a publisher of gay adult comic books was probably Felinoids #1, but there were a lot of other releases that came before that. Some were printed on photocopiers, and released in very small amounts, but they’re still out there somewhere.
Fraser: There have been iterations of Class Comics ever since 1995 when Patrick started self-publishing his own comics. However the first actual Class Comics Inc. title published after we incorporated would probably be Deimos #0.
How would you describe the content that Class Comics creates?
Patrick: We create comics that deliver solid and engaging story-telling with compelling characters and throw in a healthy amount of gay sex and nudity. It often surprises first-time readers that our comics are so intensely sexual but also contain such engrossing stories. They want to know what happens next at the end of every issue. Often, they’re hooked after the first taste.
Fraser: We make comics that reflect the ‘what if’ idea that sex was culturally normalised, risk free, and more fun than you could ever imagine. Sometimes we’re making naughty comics, sometimes were making thrilling adventures, and sometimes we’re blending the two so much that we don’t know where we stand.
Who is your audience?
Patrick: I’d say gay men are our core audience. Either they come from a love of comics or a love of adult entertainment, and they enjoy that we solidly deliver both. But there are also a number of straight women who follow our titles religiously, which is so cool.
Fraser: I like to think that we make comics for ‘Gay Geeks’ however the reality is that we make comics for a huge cross-section of individuals. While Bent-Con was running, we had the privilege of meeting our readers face-to-face and they’re as diverse as our characters. Ultimately, it’s the comic book reader who knows that there’s something huge missing from the mainstream comics.
Why do gay men respond so strongly to comics and super-heroes?
Patrick: So many of us were bullied as kids, or just had a difficult time figuring ourselves out and growing up. Super-heroes resonate strongly with many gay men because they allow us to reclaim some fraction of the power we may feel we lost growing up. They’re a wonderful form of escapism and can be quite cathartic. I think that beyond all of that, though, there’s the fact that your average superhero looks amazing in tights and form fitting uniforms. As gay guys, I think we can appreciate a great ass in a spandex costume.
Fraser: Fashion, pheromones, and fantasy — with many wardrobe malfunctions and destructions! Comics are read between the panels. It’s where the reader becomes whoever they identify with in the story. Sometimes it’s the hero, sometimes the villain.
What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?
Patrick: That really varies depending on the reader. Most of the feedback we receive is from readers who love what we do. Often they’re super-excited about the characters and current adventures, and want to know more about it all. Most of our readers embrace their love of our comics and just want to share it with us — through feedback, and sometimes also through fan art, which we love. But you know what they say — you can’t please everybody. It doesn’t happen often, but on occasion, we get some really nasty stuff sent our way. But it’s all part of the publishing game.
Fraser: Our readers’ biggest beef with us would be that we don’t put out enough titles fast enough, and also that we don’t complete the story-lines that we’ve started. Sometimes it’s because we don’t control a title but are only the publisher, sometimes it’s because a new in-house title has caught our attention. But we’re getting better.
Which is the most popular comic or world created by Class Comics?
Patrick: Almost all of what we call the core ‘Class Comics Universe’ titles are connected. That means that nearly all of the series that we create in-house are somehow tied into one another. Our new Brigayde series is the title in which all the seeds we’ve sown over the past fifteen years are being addressed, and the fans are loving that.
As far the most-popular-character goes, I guess that depends on who you ask. The original Naked Justice is a character that’s pretty widely beloved by a lot of our fans, but you also have characters like Deimos and Zahn who have huge followings and are deeply loved as well. I suppose what matters most is that there’s a character in our universe for almost every reader’s taste.
Which is your favourite character created by Class Comics?
Patrick: Deimos is my personal favourite, hands down. There’s just something I find incredibly hot and masculine about him. From a physical standpoint, he’s a great turn-on for me, but I can also relate to a lot of his personality traits. At the end of the day, I could draw that big hairy muscle demon until the cows come home.
Fraser: I have to admit a certain fondness for Gage from The Beautiful Dead. He’s a geek who got swept up in the zombie apocalypse while watching home-made porn.
If you look across the worlds created by Marvel and DC, which of those characters would you most like to see given the Class Comics treatment?
Patrick: I’ve drawn a few Marvel and DC studs ‘my way’ in the past, and it’s a lot of fun to depict them in a sexual way. I think if I could give a Marvel character the Class Comics treatment it would have to be Powerman Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Those two are so sexy, and they’ve always had such a strong bromance. I’d love to take their love to the next level in a comic. For DC, it would absolutely be Lobo. I see him as a character that sex and nudity are perfectly intertwined with. He’d be the perfect Class Comics hunk!
Fraser: So often we’re asked when we’ll do a parody of the mainstream or come up with a ‘version of’ so-and-so. The truth is that legal risks aside, we’re too engaged in our own stories and driven to grow our own CCU to do that.
What next for Class Comics?
Patrick: We’ll keep making and publishing smart, sexy, hot comics that will continue to surprise and arouse readers on a lot of levels. Encouraging new talent and discovering new artists is a big part of our mandate and I look forward to what the next few years hold in store for us. I’d also personally love to see some Class Comics characters in live-action. Fraser and I are both open that idea. The right porn production company to partner with is what’s needed. I love the idea of seeing our characters brought to life on screen. I wonder if François Sagat would be interested in playing Deimos?
We want to hear your opinion
“Who is this present for again?” whispered Sandra, as she followed Kellen through the door into the small Tatty Devine store just off Brick Lane.”
“I told you!” hissed Kellen. “My cousin’s daughter. She’s like my niece once-removed, or something.”
“Hi!” greeted the bright sales assistant, deliberately keeping her volume low.
It was the first time that Kellen had been into the Tatty Devine store. It was a small shopfront with a few displays in the window. Behind the sales counter, there was a large table around which a group of about ten women were having a meeting. It seemed to be a marketing meeting for the business. The women all stopped talking and watched as Kellen and Sandra entered the shop. Kellen had never seen so many bright and bold accessories all being worn simultaneously.
“Are you looking for anything in particular?” murmured the sales assistant, while the meeting resumed around the table.
“Um… I saw on your website that you have earrings in the shape of an ocelot?” said Kellen. “I’m buying an 18th birthday present for the daughter of my cousin. I thought she might like ocelot earrings.”
“I’m pretty sure that she’d just prefer some cash…” suggested Sandra.
“I’m afraid we’re all out of the ocelots…” advised the sales assistant. “This display here has all the earrings that we currently have. Would any of these work?”
“How about the David Bowie lightning strike?” said Kellen. “Is that kind of a gold colour?”
“It’s a matte gold…” confirmed the sales assistant.
“Cool, let’s go with those…” decided Kellen. “If I was an 18-year-old girl I would definitely wear those.”
“You should get something to go with them…” suggested Sandra. “What about this charm pendant?”
“A lobster pendant?” laughed Kellen. “When would she ever want to wear a lobster pendant?”
“All the time!” insisted Sandra. “All women want to serve some sexy lobster realness!”
“Just the earrings, thanks…” decided Kellen, turning his attention back to the sales assistant.
“I can’t believe you’re taking two days off work to go to Cardiff!” exclaimed Sandra, as they left the store and started walking back to the office. “Anyway, I thought your family was all in Australia?”
“This is my mother’s side of the family…” exclaimed Kellen. “I was supposed to go and see them all at Christmas, but didn’t. This birthday just seemed like a good reason to go. I like spending time with them all, I don’t get down there often enough.”
“Cardiff…” said Sandra, trying out her Welsh accent. “Cardiff. I’ve never been to Cardiff.”
“It’s a nice city…” shrugged Kellen. “Rugby. Singing. Leeks. It’s got a castle.”
“None of those things make me want to go there…” decided Sandra. “Maybe I should come with you? I could pretend to be your girlfriend?”
“They all know I’m gay…” sighed Kellen. “Anyway, aren’t you busy with flower-market-guy?”
“His wife’s in town…” shrugged Sandra. “It’s a total boner-killer. What are you working on this afternoon?”
“Just more Brexit stuff, I guess…” shrugged Kellen. “I’ve been asked to produce a mind-map of all the different scenarios and variables that could happen with the vote tomorrow. I have to present it on a big sheet of paper.”
“You love a mind-map!” exclaimed Sandra.
“I do not love a mind-map…” corrected Kellen. “We’re dedicating all this time and energy to Brexit, but don’t have any space to focus on what’s going on in Chechnya. That totally does my head in.”
“You could tweet about it?” suggested Sandra.
“Already tweeted…” confirmed Kellen. “Didn’t really feel like my tweet was going to make a huge difference to anyone in Chechnya.”
“Do they have Twitter in Chechnya?” asked Sandra.
“I guess so…” shrugged Kellen. “Who doesn’t have Twitter? Anyway, I’ve got to get this Brexit mind-map done so I can get out in time to go to the gym.”
“No one believes that you’re going to the gym tonight…” replied Sandra. “No one. Not even you.”
“Working out is fifty percent mental…” insisted Kellen. “If I don’t at least start out with good intentions, then I’ve got absolutely no chance!”
“You need to let go of your fantasy of being able to see your abs…” shrugged Sandra. “You’re just making yourself miserable. Embrace your sexy lobster realness!”
This is the latest episode of the serial, Hoxton Street.
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