I create illustrated queer sci fi. I am a gay man and I work as a digital illustrator exclusively in the 21st century digital realm from Las Vegas. I choose to use contemporary computer hardware and software as my artistic tools instead of pencils or paintbrushes that you hold in your hands.
A majority of artists and illustrators depict females. I choose to exclusively depict masculine males within what is known as bara.
With origins in Japan, American bara emphasizes masculine men of the Western Hemisphere in highly sexual adventures of brutality, peril and danger created by gay men for gay men.
What is Bara?
This genre attracts a much smaller audience compared to other genres of visual works and storytelling. The little word is shortened from barazuko, which in Japanese means rose-tribe, a code phrase for gay men. Bara works are produced by gay men for gay men. The genre depicts gay male, same-sex feelings and sexual identity of masculine, muscular men who sometimes behave in aggressive, violent, or exploitative ways towards one another.
Bara clearly is not about romantic gay love or hearts and flowers. Bara is wild, adventurous, and unflinching in how it mirrors real life behaviors of male aggression, power trips, violent tendencies, and exploitation.
My storytelling and illustrations are intended to appeal to gay adult men who are attracted to masculine men in particular. I specialize in homoerotic themes (man on man sexual interest.)
Not for a Mass Audience
I accept that my creative works—and bara in general—will not appeal to a “mass audience” in the gay world. Some gay men have said that they especially like how I depict men so realistically. Others not so much. I accept that gay men who prefer feminized men and the many related affectations and behaviors of feminized gay men might be put off by my depictions and stories of masculine gay men. I use the bara genre to be provocative with deliberate intent.
Provoking readers is a very different process compared to provoking viewers with visual works. I chose the science fiction genre deliberately so that my novel would turn out to be emotionally challenging and not at all “safe” in the intellectual or visceral sense. I did not attempt to create something that would make money for me or for others. But, I did attempt to create something that would make readers/viewers think about issues that they otherwise might not think about while enjoying spending time with masculine male characters.
What I’ve created is a science fiction time travel adventure, but it is also true to the bara genre. This is because I depict gay male same-sex feelings and sexual identity with masculine, muscular males that sometimes are violent and exploitative. What does that say about me? Most writers will admit what I admit here: We do not like violence and exploitation in everyday living. We write about violence and exploitation. It’s fiction. It’s only pretend. It’s only art or make-believe. As such, I do not advocate for violence and exploitation in real life.
My target audience is gay males, but straight females also are known to enjoy the bara genre.
I suspect that what I’ve created probably will not be made into a traditional Hollywood movie because the story and characters do not fit into the framework of major motion pictures that tell science fiction stories. Yet, I definitely can imagine this would make show business sense as a series of episodes for streaming on Amazon or Hulu or Netflix.
Science fiction is famous for characters, behaviors, and ideas that venture way beyond the envelope of conventional storytelling. These are well-known realities celebrated by science fiction writers and readers alike.
Baja Clavius pushes the boundaries far beyond what some readers will find objectionable in science fiction written with gay male themes and characters.
The men in the fictitious world of tomorrow in Baja Clavius are far more violent and preoccupied with sex compared to what we know to be true today of gay men.
The time travel agents find gay sex pleasurable, yes, but they sexually manipulate men as part of their secret mission to change the past. Sometimes they behave as bullies. Sometimes they force themselves sexually upon unwilling men. This sexualized violence in the fictitious world of Baja Clavius is not for squeamish readers.
When I was a boy, I had an irrational fear that I would turn out to be a merely ordinary man.
Old World ethnic and authentic. That’s what I was going for when I created a pseudonym for myself that I thought would sound considerably more credible compared to my own birth name.
Of course, I also chose a name that everyone should recognize no merely ordinary person would ever have.
During journalism school, I grew to admire writers who distinguished themselves through their professional works. But, I also must confess that I developed a very strong attraction to the well-known practice of writers who use a pseudonym. The earliest experience I had with pen names was when I was a teenager. I learned that Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Filtered through the perceptions of a teenage boy, that discovery was the coolest thing I had ever come to know about the writing profession.
Yes, Mark Twain has remained my favorite American writer of all time. Not that I think I am as good as he was or ever will be. But, I seek to be humorous like him, to tell vivid and imaginative stories like he told, and, yes, to have a memorable nom de plume like his.