Get ready for Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, a new anthology of husky gay erotica. This type of gay manga, which features hyper-masculine men drawn by gay men for gay male readers, is widely referred to as "bara" (as opposed to "yaoi", which is gay male manga produced by and for women). However, that term is not generally outside of Western culture and its corners of the Internet, since, as it turns out, "bara" is actually an antiquated slur for gay people in Japan.
The book -- designed by Chip Kidd and edited by Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins -- is a followup to their last foray into the genre, a book titled The Passion of Gengorah Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga. Ishii and Kolbeins's bara-inspired retail line of the same name was featured by Opening Ceremony earlier this year. The collected works in Massive showcases a selection of Japan's best gay erotic artists, some of it rarely seen in the West outside of poorly translated scans on websites that host pirated material.
By working with Fantagraphics, one of the most popular comics publishers in this country, Ishii hopes it will help to elevate more of this niche of gay manga into a more mainstream spotlight. "I'm hoping this book will prove that there's an organic way to produce translations of gay manga - all manga, even - that will give this hardcore underground community legitimacy."
Inu Yoshi's work is colorful, vibrant, and inviting with "flirtatious characters" that give off an air of potent sexuality with "warmhearted intimacy."
Yoshi explains: When I was a kid, reading manga was pure fun -- an excuse to get away from schoolwork... it's still essentially a means of escape and not much more... I think of my stories as ways for people to escape from their everyday lives, or a way for them to relax."
"I have more to learn from younger genrations of gay men in Japan than I have to teach them," Inu Yoshi says. "They have a much richer imagination and a bigger emotional vocabulary."
"I like men with big bodies," says the artist known as Jiraiya. "Not just visible largeness but like, if I hold someone and my hands can't reach all the way around...that big. That real bigness is important."
Jiraiya is amazing, according to Chip Kidd. "Jiraiya's unforgettable Caveman Guu, who keeps trying to make babies with other cavemen (ha!), to no avail (duh). So he rides a giant cave bear named Kuu (I would do exactly the same thing in his situation, just saying)."
As Chip Kidd explains: "When I spent time with Tagame-san in Tokyo in March 2013, I was made aware of just how subversive and taboo it still is to be a gay comics artist in Japan. It is perhaps naive to think that this book will change that, but by publishing it, uncensored, we can at least try."