Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Last of Leonard & Larry: A New Collection Features the Last of the Popular Gays-Next-Door Comic Strip

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Last of Leonard & Larry: A New Collection Features the Last of the Popular Gays-Next-Door Comic Strip

Article excerpt

"Leonard and Larry are not perpetually young and unrealistic," says writer-artist Tim Barela. "It's something the readers can identify with." But while one of gay comics' favorite couples has resiliently weathered gay bashings, grandparenthood, and more gray mustache hairs than they can count, the book has closed on "Leonard & Larry," the comic strip, just shy of its 20th anniversary. The new collection How Real Men Do It (Palliard Press) will archive Barela's final episodes of the popular series.

"Leonard & Larry" debuted in 1984 in the pages of Gay Comix. Barela had already achieved popularity as a cartoonist in straight motorcycle magazines, but his new creation explored an area of gay life--domesticity--that interested few of his contemporaries in gay comics. Leonard was a fashion photographer, and Larry owned a leather shop in West Hollywood. A monogamous couple in an era of sexual freedom, Leonard and Larry faced all sorts of sitcomesque foibles as their gay and straight friends and family moved in and out of storylines. "It was very much a sitcom and a soap opera, but real life is in a lot of ways," says Barela. "That's where the humor in real life comes from."

The fact that his characters aged in real time is something that Barela thinks makes "Leonard & Larry" more interesting. The strip also covered plotlines from gay parenting to TV stars outing themselves to gay priests years before such topics became subjects for the mainstream media. "I just did what seemed to flow naturally," says Barela, "to tackle subjects that were pertinent to me at the time, that felt interesting, and that I felt weren't being tackled by other cartoonists or other segments of the gay media."

A regular feature in The Advocate from 1988 to 1990, "Leonard & Larry" later enjoyed a 12-year run in Frontiers magazine--along with a voracious fan base--until the magazine decided to cancel the strip in early 2002. …

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