To read most of the Western media’s coverage about LGBT rights in Japan, one might, understandably, get the impression that the country has all but suffocated its gay population. In reality that’s far from the case. Much in the same way that Tom of Finland helped define the artistic aesthetic of 70s-era gay erotica in the West, Gengoroh Tagame did the same for Japan in the mid-80s.
Though bara, the genre that Tagame primarily works in, is considered a separate artform, Tagame’s influence on the Japanese manga industry can be seen throughout some of the most popular yaoi manga titles today.
Here in the U.S. Tagame and other bara artists’ work has really only ever thrived in online enthusiast communities like those exist on Tumblr, DeviantArt, and certain message boards. In Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It authors Anne Ishii Graham Kolbeins interview some of the genre’s top artists for one of the first in-depth, English-language primers.
Massive, Kolbeins, and Ishii are currently touring across the U.S. promoting the book, but in case you can’t make it to a signing check out the epic launch party featuring an interview with Tagame and Gachimuchi go-go boys AFTER THE JUMP...(NSFW images)