Friday, August 11, 2017

QCE Review Series: Part 11 - "Declaration" By Joshua Trujillo and Levi Hastings

Here we have Declaration, written by Josh Trujillo and drawn by Levi Hastings. I once shared a panel with Joshua, in fact, I'm PRETTY sure it was at last years Queer Comics Expo. At the time, he had done some serious work for Kaboom's Adventure Time comic series and I remember feeling a sense of awe and admiration. I LOVE Adventure Time and would love to be involved with it somehow. anyway! We reconnected again this year and I found that he's been working on this new book with a person named Levi Hastings (whom I did not get a chance to meet). What I got was only a 12 page preview. The full version I think is not out yet, but on it's way.
The story follows two secret gay lovers during the time that lead up to the American revolution. A nobleman (who is very much for the war) and a working class dude (who remains loyal to the crown). They're in love, and hiding it, and yet have starkly contrasting political views. A more classic story there never was.
It might seem cliche to say, but this is giving me some pretty heavy Hamilton vibes. I have not seen Hamilton (nor am i in a particular rush to), but I know what it's about, and I can't help but see similarities between two pre American revolution stories that very purposefully deal with topics that people in those times would have found too taboo to even mention, let alone write about.

The art of this book is pretty nice looking for the most part. The figure drawings are semi-realistic with some very slight cartoonish exaggerations. The colour scheme is appropriately simplistic, using various shades of red, white and blue to fill in most of the detail work with a random splash of yellow/tan for atmosphere. They really commit themselves to the theme and that itself is really admirable, and on top of that it works.
I hate to give negative reviews, but for the most part, this book doesn't really speak to me. The first problem is that it's two dudes sharing the spotlight. I like my queer romances to star trans people, or at the VERY least two cis girls. The two dudes dynamic just does nothing for me, or at least not anymore. I remember being young and seeing a couple of gay guys in a movie for the first time feeling inspired. It gave me some really good feels back then. Nowadays I see it as very... basic, which is weird because it's not like it's an overly done dynamic or anything. I mean, I would have to say, it's done MORE than other dynamics, but it's not like it's in my face 24-7 or anything. That being said, their romance IS very sweet, and if you are a person who digs cis guy on cis guy romance, then this book is very much for you.
The OTHER thing about this book that kinda turns me off is the very overt patriotic tones that come through in it. The American flag is literally the front cover, and in a day and age when you see Trump supporters waving that thing around, talking about how they wanna make America "great" again by being very purposefully discriminatory against non-whites really calls to mind this pre-revolutionary america where they fought for this ideal of  all men being created equal, but conveniently forgot to include non-whites (and women). America conflates "greatness" and "whiteness" too easily, and that's something stories like this very seldom address.
I am often juggling this idea of co-opting historical dramas to tell allegorical tales that are critical of harmful norms adopted at the time they take place, and/or just setting that kind of story in a more modern setting.
BUT, at this point, I'm off topic and I'm not reviewing the book anymore!
SO! If you're into dude on dude and you like history, this is the book for you! You can get it HERE!

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