Author:Dabbene, Peter
Position:Book review

Alex Woolfson (author), Winona Nelson (illustrator); ARTIFICE; AMW Comics (Comics & Graphic Novels: Comics & Graphic Novels) 19.99 ISBN: 9780985760403

Byline: Peter Dabbene

Gay android/human romance blossoms amid a blockbuster science fiction plot.

Imagine a big-budget, summer science-fiction blockbuster with a tender romance at its core. Now imagine it's a comic book instead of a movie, and the romance is between two men. That's what Alex Woolfson and Winona Nelson have created in their graphic novel, Artifice.

The hero of Artifice is Deacon, an artificial person and soldier. A robopsychotherapist evaluates Deacon after the android, contrary to his programming, killed a group of human soldiers. As revealed through flashbacks and sessions with his therapist, Deacon was followed by the soldiers to a distant planet, where he disobeyed his orders to exterminate the entire colony, which leads to dire consequences.

Artifice was originally published as a webcomic on Alex Woolfson's website, Yaoi 911 (from the Japanese term yaoi, meaning "Boys' Love"). In the tradition of yaoi, Artifice features a sexual relationship between two men, but the science fiction setting and plot make it more than mere homoerotica.

Artifice is larger than most graphic novels, a commendable choice that shows off Winona Nelson's clean and expressive art. In one multipanel sequence, Deacon suddenly grabs another man's arm, shows reactions of surprise, followed by a subtle indication of affection, followed by an embarrassed pulling-away. Deacon is in a...

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