I picked up Issue 6 of Edie Fake‘s Gaylord Phoenix at the prompting of Ryan Sands (thank you!) and loved it so I bought the whole thing, published by Secret Acres. With its abstract style, highly idiosyncratic symbolic system and anarchic brand of pansexuality, this comic is not an accessible one. Not surprizingly, the majority of reviews I’ve read seem to be along the lines of “omg amazing wtf was that all about?”
Personally, I didn’t find Gaylord nearly as esoteric as most reviews would have you believe. The narrative is a rich one, not some kind of psychedelic visual mindfuck that’s merely nice to look at. The story however, is fairly difficult to describe. I’m afraid my best attempt would be to say that it is about a fantastical, polymorphous protagonist who traverses strange, metaphysical and libidinous terrains in a journey of personal transformation. While this journey is a profoundly erotic one, it is the eroticism of a transpersonal vein, which is to say, one in which all false binaries fall away. (On a side note, in my experience, it is those persons who embrace their sex drives who seem to be able to make the most headway in terms of ecstatic experiences regardless of whether they’re physical or metaphysical, so maybe that’s partly why I enjoyed this so much.)
But I digress. I think the most useful description I can offer is a comparison to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. It’s equally as idiosyncratic in its use of symbol, as well as erotic and playful, although it’s also much shorter, easier to get your hands on and not nearly as grotesque.
On a more technical note, I’d recommend picking up the individual volumes of Gaylord as it is a delight to have the originally printed pages and as you can see below, the colours are different (original volume on the left). Also, please excuse my horrible cropping. I’m posting in a hurry but I hope these pics give you some idea of what the art is like.