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Boy Meets Boy by K.Sandra, reviewed by Shaenon Garrity

If the popularity of Boy Meets Boy teaches us anything, it's that webcomics need more hot, shirtless young men making out with each other.

Obviously, there's a pretty big online audience for what the Japanese nerds call yaoi, and there aren't nearly enough webcomics to fill their needs. So please, webcartoonists, draw more sexy gay men. Make them walk around in tight little biker shorts, the lowest of low-rise jeans, and loose shirts unbuttoned to display rippling bronze chests. Long hair curtaining dark, limpid eyes which speak silently of forbidden pleasure and pain are also recommended. And tasteful nudity. The webcritics community thanks you in advance.

Ahem.

So. Boy Meets Boy is a daily webstrip about blissful boyfriends Mikhael Rasputin and Halequinn Goldman, as well as their friends, enemies, and neighbors – most of whom also have improbable romance-novel names. Mikhael is a brooding sensitive-artist type with a thing for classical music and Romantic poetry; Harley is a flirtatious punk boy with a rock band and a puckish sense of humor. Regular intruders into their lives include their evil Goth landlady, Mikhael's Machivellian ex-boyfriend, Harley's airheaded sister, and the other members of Harley's band, two of whom are constantly on the verge of confessing their mutual homosexuality and falling into bed with each other. I don't imagine Mikhael's and Harley's relationship bears any resemblance to the lives of actual gay men, or indeed anyone in the real world. That's all right, because realism isn't the point of "Boy Meets Boy." It's an excuse to enjoy cute and sexy men in love, on a 90% innocent level.

Given that the sex appeal of the characters is, to a large degree, the driving force of the strip, it's a bit surprising that the art isn't better. The art in "Boy Meets Boy" has hovered at roughly the same scratchy-crude level for the three years to date of its run; the reader often has to take it on faith that the characters are good-looking. The artistic limitations also occasionally make it difficult to understand what's going on, especially in action-oriented strips. The writing, however, has steadily improved, especially over the last year of the strip. The dialogue has developed a wit and inventiveness it didn't have when the strip began, and the characters have grown to the point that cartoonist K. Sandra can begin to take them in interesting directions. Recent character twists, like the revelation that Harley's chirpy friend Skids hides some complex problems under his baseball cap, have been handled well. The storylines from the past two months - Mikhael becoming a prize in an art auction, Harley pondering a commitment ceremony, a very silly but witty "Evil Mikhael" story - are the best material in "Boy Meets Boy" so far.

Reading Boy Meets Boy may be difficult for newcomers, as the bare-bones site design doesn't include an archives page, links to past storylines, or any kind of archival organization. A daily strip that's been running for three years definitely needs more than a "First Strip" back button, since reading the complete run of Boy Meets Boy is likely to take several sittings. Other parts of the site designed to help new readers are similarly inadequate; the cast page, for instance, is missing a number of characters and doesn't seem to have been updated in months. K Sandra provides links to fan sites with more comprehensive introductions to the strip, but the main Boy Meets Boy site is sparse and difficult to navigate.

The strip's recent move to Keenspot is sure to introduce it to a wider audience and new fans. It's gratifying to see growing popularity and acceptance for webcomics aimed at female readers (speaking personally, I remember a time when half the strips on Keenspot seemed to revolve around T&A, with nothing remotely similar for the ladies), and it's interesting to see yaoi (idealized gay male romance) emerge as a popular genre among fangirls. Although "Boy Meets Boy" is still rough, still finding its voice and wit, it heralds a welcome trend in webcomics toward character-based humor, thoughtful writing, and, of course, hot, shirtless young men making out with each other.