Shirtlifter is a collection of ten short semi autobiographical works, many of which stem from Steve MacIsaac’s experiences and observations on the themes of identity, sexuality, personal growth and what constitutes a family. The comic really struck a chord and stayed with me long after I had finished.
While at times you’d be forgiven for thinking some of the material gets a little dour, the sardonic and occasionally self deprecating humor was appealing and I admire the willingness to actually put that much of yourself out there. It makes the comic feel very intimate at times.
One of my favorite pieces was the forth story Mantras. The panels are just damn sexy and beautiful. The feeling between the characters was apparent despite the more obvious connotations and it certainly brings up a lot of questions about how sex is portrayed and consumed. I also enjoyed the conversation and humor in pieces like You Do The Math, which ended very sweetly and made me laugh. (Steve, black socks and sneakers?? heh)
While there was sex in the comic, the focus was more on the choices that people make and the repercussions. I think this makes it unusual and it is perhaps a little difficult to classify, as the narrative has a more dramatic and indy feel to it.
The art is compelling and while some parts are fully colored it was the strips that were monochromatic that I found striking. The posture and demeanor of the characters and use of shadow creates good tension and atmosphere. They’re also drawn in a more realistic style than most of the comics I read and I liked the muscular look of the men. Chest hair? Nice. 🙂
Shirtlifter #2 was thought provoking, unapologetic, sexy and well worth a read.