Reading the comic Gaylord Phoenix (Secret Acres) is a little like watching a psychedelic silent movie, or dropping acid. Unlike talkies, or mainstream comics, or real life, this story is told more in pictures than in words. Like in silent films, words and dialog are static insertions between blooming, exploding images.
And like tripping, the plot — what you the audience get out of the experience — has more to do with how you uniquely read the images you see, as opposed to following a predisposed script.
Gaylord Phoenix is a hairy Sasquatch kind of guy. He falls in love with a cute boy
carrying a video camera. They film, they hug, they pork. Unfortunately, his monstrous crystal bloodlust takes over and he rips the poor kid to shreds. Not to fear, the boy is rescued and stitched up by multi-eyed subterranean dwellers. Now a somnambulist, he totters through a labyrinth whose alligator queen he ends up gatorbating. Crocosnogging.
See, that’s the problem, trying to describe a silent movie or an acid trip wrecks it, makes a parody of it, becomes a clumsy boring paraphrase for experiential visual poetry.
Gaylord Phoenix isn’t happy about his bloodlust. In fact, the rest of the comic is his visual heroic journey towards redemption. It’s a path gay and transgender folks will recognize: one involving the pokes and proddings of science, thrills of sexual discovery, inner hallucinogenic voyages, and the quest to find one’s true self at any cost.
This is where Edie Fake’s artwork takes over. A tale told in two colors, readers will fantasize many more, as paisley swirls the page, as a dark magic of feathers transforms into oceans of tears, as sphinxes and ribbons festoon the court of the Gaylord risen up into the clouds. It’s not a plot you can articulate, but a poetry you will recognize.
There’s sex too, lots of it, and since Gaylord and friends sport genitals like nozzles or tubes the mere mortal question of “who’s on top?” becomes irrelevant…it might be both or neither. Like daydream sex, in these cartoons you can fly and fuck or be an alligator or both sexes at once, at no cost, or at a cost of your own determining.
It’s this determination of who you are and what your sex will be that is the real plot of this amazing graphic novel. “At last I hold my own,” Gaylord Phoenix declares at the book’s conclusion. “ And I partake of who I am.”
Reading this transformative book will make you shout “Me too!”
NOTE: Gaylord Phoenix came with a little packet of “Fast Action HOMO-“erotic” love powder” which looks a little like pink aquarium sand or Lick-A-Maid candy. For more on Edie Fake visit ediefake.com.