A series of gay comics by Steve MacIsaac, using the slang shirtlifter as its title. The cover of issue #4 (2011):


The two burly characters are Matt (on the left) and Connor (on the right). This posting is moatly about them.

Extensive background on the slang noun shirtlifter (and its related terms), notably in its (originally British) rather derogatory use for a male homosexual, but also in a more neutral sense referring to mere torso display (especially in the context of sport(s)), in a 9/23/09 posting “Lifting shirts” (with illustrations).

On to Shortlifter the comic. Definitely explicit man-man sex going on there, but the strip is also a thoughtful exploration of living gay, in a straight world and in various gay worlds. On, the publisher’s blurb for #1:

Winner of Prism Comics first annual Queer Press Grant, SHIRTLIFTER is a new series of queer-themed short fiction comics from STICKY artist Steve MacIsaac. This first issue [originally published in 2006] features the self-contained story “Unmade Beds.” Set amidst the gay expatriate culture of Tokyo, the comic is a quiet and lyrical examination of cross-cultural adjustment and sexual parity. This new edition [published in 2010] features reinked and in some cases redrawn artwork, as well as crisp 2 color printing on superior paper.

Issue #2 in 2007, #3 in 2008, #4 in 2011; I have all of these. And then last year #5; the publisher’s blurb:

This issue, the first in four years, concludes Steve MacIsaac’s Unpacking graphic novel. Starting in SHIRTLIFTER #3, Unpacking follows Matt, a gay graphic designer living in Vancouver. Newly-single after the sudden dissolution of an eight-year relationship, Matt is living in a new apartment he can’t seem to quite move into, and is wary of becoming involved with anyone ever again. His commitment to remaining single is challenged when he begins spending time with Connor, an Australian-ex pat who identifies as straight, is married to a woman, and seems to be the only person capable of cutting through Matt’s defenses.

A bit of wrenching dialogue between the two men:



Background: Connor has been freaked out by the possibility that he and Matt will be taken to be a couple in public, to the extent that he moves his seat in the movies so as not to be seated next to Matt (“in the gay seat”, as he puts it). Meanwhile, Matt is seriously into risky sex — sex in public places where they could easily be caught unawares — and pulls Connor into living out these fantasies with him by getting him hot and hard.

Wryly funny, moving, and also often incendiary.


One Response to “Shirtlifter”

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