by Alex Woolfson
Illustrated by Winona Nelson
Published by AMW Comics
Published May 1, 2013
Fiction (graphic novel)
112 pgs. • Find on Amazon.com
Reviewed by Jack Clark
December 22, 2014.
Artifice is an intensely emotional story about the expectations of society and the conflict that arises when an individual’s personal needs override those expectations.
Set in the future, Deacon is a remarkably lifelike android programmed to do one thing: enforce the orders of the Company. Sent to a distant colony to assassinate a team of scientists, Deacon somehow overcomes his psychological conditioning and allows one citizen of the colony to survive: a 19 year old named Jeff. In the weeks that pass while waiting to be recovered, a bond forms between the two that threatens Deacon’s loyalty to the Company, and perhaps to both their lives.
Artifice falls in the “yaoi” tradition, which roughly translates as “boy’s love.” Yaoi is a genre of Japanese comics that focuses on the romantic aspects of male to male love. Although the emotionality is the primary focus of these graphic novels, there is a heavily erotic overtone to yaoi artwork. This results in both romantic stories (which appeal to adolescent girls) and a sexually exciting tale (which appeals to most anyone). Readers who are new to this genre are often surprised to find that yaoi is written and illustrated by female writers, and a large part of it’s core audience is female.
Written by Alex Woolfson and featuring artwork by Winona Nelson, Artifice is well written with a heart-pulling dramatic pace. Woolfson’s characters are sympathetic and relatable, and the visuals provided by Nelson have a classic comic sci-fi look that combines with the writing to create a summer blockbuster movie feel to the work. Deacon and Jeff have a tangible chemistry between them, and their dialogues have a punchy wit that any comic reader will love.
This graphic novel is an exciting, dramatic, sexy, and a just-a-little-bit bad-ass introduction into the realm of yaoi graphic stories.
In 2011, debut graphic novelist Alex Woolfson began releasing pages of Artifice every week for free on his Web site, Yaoi 911 Webcomics. In under a year, the science-fiction webcomic had over 5,000 unique visitors a day, and a Kickstarter project to raise money to bring the book to print blew past its $7,000 goal in less than 48 hours, ultimately taking in $36,551 at the end of its 30 days.
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This review was originally published in Out In Jersey magazine.