Miscellanea and Ephemeron
05/08/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi artbook: Yaoi Gothic"
Review by Ryes
Yaoi Gothic is a collection of artwork from the artists of Yaoi Press, an original English language yaoi publisher who occasionally translates mangas not from Japan or Korea. There's some good and bad aspects of the artbook, but I feel that this could have been handled a lot better, considering there were about four or five artists whose works were featured in here.
One of the downsides to this book is the black and white interior. Color images would have been great, especially for some of the artists who were displayed. But I got over this quickly. The artists made do with the monochromatic limitation and the shading and patterns were excellent.
Laura Carboni is the artist featured on the cover and she's the reason I really got this book. I was introduced to her stunning art through a book I read recently called Gadarene. Laura Carboni did the cover art for the book and it was beyond stunning. She managed to make the character Wira, who is a hermaphrodite, look both a male and female at the same time. Her cover gave the book a unique appeal and made me really want to read it. In Yaoi Gothic, her artwork is just as excellent. Her men tend to be beefy and as much as I hate beefy looking men whose upper bodies look like inverted triangles, I think her men are charming. She takes charge of her figures and her backgrounds and creates stunning pieces. But I would've liked to see her mix things up a bit. All her pictures are explicit (nothing to wonder at because every single picture in this book is explicit), and there's plenty of sweat and other fluids. She draws lots of threesomes. I noticed she has a fixation with mirrors and doing it up against a wall/window/mirror. One of the things I liked about Carboni's cover for Gadarene is the detail to the outfits that the characters were wearing. Carboni has an excellent eye for detail and it's too bad that she can't show that off with this book. She does make the backgrounds and accessories very beautiful though. She's an artist I would like to see more of in the future.
Dany & Dany is the team of Italian artists whose works have become Yaoi Press classics. The settings and characters in their pieces are a bit varied. They have some historicals and some fantasies and they worked both themes very well. She had four pieces in this book and in all but one of them, the characters are wearing some kind of clothing while they do their business. The one exception where the characters weren't wearing anything was a picture of two angels (or unknown winged beings). In this case, she made a good choice to do away with clothing because the wings alone were spectacular enough and eye-catching. She also toned down the background with this one, too, which created a good effect. In the other pictures, I really liked the outfits, and I admired the fact that she can pull off good facial expressions and body language. Even though I haven't loved all of Dany & Dany's works in the past, there's no denying that they are excellent artists.
Le Peruggine also offers four pieces in this book. I hadn't seen any of this artist's works beforehand so I'm happy to discover a new artist. One thing that makes Le Peruggine stand out in this collection is his shading technique. He's not like any of the other artists in this collection in that his shading is not done in carefully mapped spaces. He shades in gradients and the effect makes his pictures look smooth and (I don't know how else to say it) glowy. Well, glowing characters are always a plus! Most of his pictures are very sexy, especially his first one with an angel cornering a demon up against a cliffside. The details of the wings and the feathers and the rocks and the demon's irritated facial expression were all wonderful! His second piece is a little strange; it didn't even seem like it was his compared to the other three. The last two were good and had the dedication to details that I saw in the first one. Really, that first one was beautiful. It makes me want to look up any mangas he drew.
Aside from Carboni, Dany & Dany and Le Peruggine, there was also another unknown artist (most likely two because the styles seems to be different).
Unknown Artist 1: I don't care for her pictures. I think she drew the one with a guy being done on a leopard print recliner, and the another one with a guy wearing lace stockings. She drew typical anime faces except worse. There was also very limited to no shading, especially in the first one. It was like looking at a one-dimensional image and none of the characters popped. The impression they left on me was that they were like bad fanart.
Unknown Artist 2: She drew the picture of a guy with small bat wings doing another guy up against a brick wall. I like her figures slightly more than I do of Unknown Artist 1's. They had good musculatures and she at least shades. The background's not very imaginative though. It's a brick wall... I think this picture could've done with a different and better background, seeing as how one of the characters have wings. The fantasy aspect could have be pushed further.
There were some things that were common to all the artists in this collection. Hair was one of them. Why do all the men have long hair? Dany & Dany and Le Peruggine each had one picture with short-haired guys but that doesn't change the fact that the rest of the men have lush, flowing tresses to rival those of Rapunzel.
A lot of these images were fantasy or bondage. I would've liked a little more variation, like sci-fi settings. But I can't really fault them on that; Yaoi Press offers mostly fantasy titles and this art book reflects what Yaoi Press fans love.
I'm a little surprised not to see Kosen featured in this collection. I really expected it, as that team is one of the first names you think of when someone says Yaoi Press (along with Dany & Dany). Another disappointment with this collection was that there were only 22 images, and one of them was just a larger black and white version of the cover image. Yaoi Gothic is labeled as having 64 pages and that's really sad when only 22 pages are illustrations. The rest of it was miscellaneous previews and guides. One of the Amazon reviewers seem to find those helpful to amateur artists, but I think the illustrations really should have been the focus of this collection.
Yaoi Gothic does have some flaws but overall, it was thoughtfully put together. Some of the artists displayed in this collection took great care with their images and it's worth checking out.
The Wapshott Press
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