Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bara Logic: An Interview w/ Illustrator Doctor Anfelo

I have been a quiet admirer of Venezuelan illustrator Doctor Anfelo for a year and a half or so. His depictions of the male form have caught my eye on more than one occasion. Though playful and a bit erotic, his artwork never quite crosses the line into full on erotica. Doctor Anfelo seems to have the innate instinct that not showing us everything is way more enticing than giving us the "full monty."

For fans of Bara, Manga, Yaoi and the ilk, you will love Doctor Anfelo's hilarious comic series Bara Logic. For those unfamiliar, Bara is a genre of art and fictional media that focuses on male same-sex love, usually created by gay men for a gay audience. You can read all about Bara on Wikipedia! In Bara Logic, Doctor Anfelo cleverly deconstructs the normal trappings of the genre. Anfelo correctly points out that if everyone's life was like bara, we would all have mind-blowing sex twenty four hours a day with everyone we encounter. Oh, and everyone would be a straight hunk that has never had sex before and is desperate to try...with you. Right now. Why are your clothes still on?

Despite having a strong online presence, there is little bio info to be found on Doctor Anfelo. Thankfully, we can rectify that right now. Here is everything you need to know about Anfelo in his own words:

Let’s see now, I first started drawing around 2005 or so, my name is Angelo and I’m currently 24 years old; I started here in Venezuela with a little art course that was taught in my city about artistic drawing, personally back then it wasn’t really my thing so I began practicing by myself drawing manga-styled fanart of my favorite characters, it wasn’t until 2008 that I read my first bara doujin (Takeshi Matsu’s “My Beast”) and I fell in love with the style, the male anatomy and even more so with the romance between two large men.

I decided to try my hand at drawing “bara” but I quickly decided to drop that because I felt that bara characters, as aesthetically nice as they might be, aren’t really more than a fantasy that wouldn’t translate well into reality, let’s face it for a sec, they would really look disproportionate in real life; thus I decided to do something more realistic yet stylized. My mental motto has always been “Try to picture it in real life” since I have always been fascinated by male anatomy, which is a shame because here in Venezuela it’s a bit of a taboo to teach how to draw male anatomy properly, so my best friends when it came to practice illustration were these bara doujins and my loyal anatomy book. Night after night drawing and drawing I finally reached what would become the prototype of my style, personally my favorite part of illustration has always been drawing hairy chests, because it’s something free and it varies as much as the eyes and noses of people. 
I don’t consider myself a professional, everyday I still manage to learn new things and I think I still have quite a long road to travel. I’m very pleased with the fact that in such a short time I have met, learned, and experimented with a little bit of everything, from art trades with artists that in the past I would have never imagined talking to, to being invited as an artist for a calendar that would also feature my favorite artist. 
About my nickname, the “Doctor” bit at the beginning comes from the fact that my parents didn’t want me to be an artist at all, but a doctor instead and I told them I’d be a famous doctor in the future somehow; the “Anfelo” part is just a nickname that my stepfather gave me, so that’s the “secret” behind the Doctor-Anfelo name.
Despite being busy with projects and going to college full time, Doctor Anfelo agreed to do an interview with us! If you would like to explore a bit more about his work on your own, we suggest his Tumblr, Facebook, and DeviantArt page! Also, one of Doctor Anfelo's comics King in Tartan was recently printed in the French fanzine Dokkun #7.

Q:  You do a great job of making fun of Bara while also showing great affection for the genre. What was the inspiration that made you decide to do the “Bara Logic” series!
Anfelo: I love Bara itself as it was the genre that inspired me to start drawing, now, regarding the jokes about Bara I used to make fun with some friends about the plots in Bara doujins and how they wouldn’t really work in real life, this poking fun at the fantasy of bara became such a constant for us that I decided to make a little comic about it and up it to Tumblr (I have the bad habit of drawing my inner jokes or thoughts) and well… surprisingly it was well received haha. I’m guessing that it’s because it’s a topic that most of the people that come across it know what it is without needing names, explanations or which doujin is being satirized, I think the fandom needed a little humor when it came to Bara other than focusing on the erotic value of it.

Q: You often draw beefy guys in gladiator outfits, kilts, leather, uniforms, demon horns, sporting gear…when can we expect to see hot guys in sexy space outfits?
Anfelo: Hahaha! Well I hadn’t thought about that! I’m more of a fan of medieval and fantasy stuff but yeah I’d love to do something space-y in the future, maybe something TRON-like haha, thanks for the idea!

Q: I really love that you don’t draw complete nudity. Are some things just better left to the imagination?
Anfelo: Hmmm it wasn’t quite on purpose but I guess that back when I started people started recognizing that as part of my style, drawing erotic figures without falling into nudity or pornography. Personally I dislike drawing naked figures unless it’s for an art class or for some anatomy study, other than that I think it’s better to leave everything to the imagination… Then again that’s just my opinion, I just find a little mystery to be more fun and sexy.

Teaser of new comic in the works!

Q: On Oct 10th, you teased us with a sketch from your new comic? Care to share any info about it with us? Just a hint?
Anfelo: Nope, no comment.
Just kidding~
Well that’s my pet project which has been in my mind for quite a while now, but it’s still in the “taking shape” phase (It’s not even named yet) as I’m working with a close friend on the plot and fine tuning characters, but it’s more of a “slice of life” project with a lot of twisted humor about a former Laws School student that switched majors to Arts and then finds himself in a completely unfamiliar social medium where he’ll learn a lot about how society works these days.

I like to express my point of view in my art often so the comic will be a satire about how young people (Though I’ll be focusing on gay people) live in this age of information, social networks, labels and sexual freedom amongst other things. As you probably noticed from the tease sketch the style will be more “cartoonish” than usual to match it’s more free form and liberal scope. I also plan to publish the comic on both Facebook and Tumblr freely since it won’t have any sexual content.

Q:  Your ability to realistically illustrate people is incredible. When did you discover that you had a special talent for portraits?
Anfelo: It all began in my 2nd Semester of Arts School, in my Anatomical Illustration class, where my teacher asked us to sketch a classmate. Since my group was rather small I decided to draw a self portrait with pencils instead (Which was more comfortable to me at the moment, since I didn’t know anyone that well) and I really liked the result, thus I decided to digitalize it and… it improved like 150% haha.

As an exercise I decided to do a small giveaway of portraits to practice and everyone that asked me for one ended up loving them and I was like “Wow, I can actually do this haha?!” and well, I was really surprised by that and I’m very glad people like it.

Q: What is the strangest thing someone has commissioned you to draw?
Anfelo: Ouch, I’m a little embarrassed to say this since I try to keep a certain degree of confidentiality when it comes to commissions,but drawing OCs (Original Characters) has always struck me as… odd, for lack of a better term, likewise drawing couples, especially when they send me reference pictures where they are very… “loving” towards each other (And I don’t mean kissing or hugging variety of loving) or very “revealing” photos (Some don’t even <reveal>, everything is in plain sight) it’s pretty uncomfortable to me, mainly because I need to keep the reference picture open while I sketch so I can check for details, nuances, proportions, etc.

Q: What artists/illustrators do you currently follow?
Anfelo: I follow a small amount on Facebook, I’m actually rather shy when it comes to following artists or sending the friend requests since I feel it’s a bother to add someone and never talk to them since then I’ll be too embarrassed to actually start a conversation.

Currently I follow Leomon32 (His art always makes me smile, it has that peculiar kind of characters with a mix of adorable and sexy at the same time), Fabrissou (Who’s a really fun artist with great projects, thanks to him I had the chance to publish my first comics in two issues of the Dokkun magazine and also make a small cameo with my Bara Logics in a Bara anthology called “Le Bara ça n'existe pas” [The word Bara doesn’t exist]), Dokinana (A great artist and close friend, really fun and sweet gal with a pretty refreshing style, the girls she draws and her attention to details are amazing) and well, several others - Devotarus an amazing Venezuelan artist, Teru Terujirou, I love the eyebrows he draws omg ahahaha. I actually admire quite a few artists but many of them reached the friends limit in Facebook and I can’t even add them (such a shame).

Q: Your random drawing of Satan learning how to ride a bike is adorable. Wouldn’t he need special pedals for his cloven hooves?
Anfelo: …Now that you mention it… yeah he would… maybe something hollow like cup or bowl shaped with rubber so they don’t slip out. He would also require special protective headgear for his little horns haha, just because he’s the Prince of Darkness doesn’t mean he can just go and ignore basic safety rules.

Q:  You are really great about interacting with your fans on Tumblr. Are there any questions that you have just refused to answer?
Anfelo: I always try to answer every comment and message, I think that if someone took the time to write you something (Hopefully good, some people are awfully caustic) they deserve a bit of your time as well and you should answer back.

I think the only questions I don’t answer anymore are the typical “And where’s the NSFW version?!” or “Are you ever going to draw dicks?” ones or the just dumb ones like “Are commissions free or do I have to pay?” and “Can you draw me? It is free right?” I tend to leave those unanswered in my inbox or I simply erase them.

Then there’s the issue of hate mail, I daily receive 2-3 hate mails (Thankfully not that many), there is surprisingly a small group of persons that has decided to invest time and effort in sending me hate mail or reporting me on Facebook… I admire their dedication to be honest, I mean if that makes them happy who am I to judge?

Q: Would you humor us and sketch The Dark Lord Cthulhu with your eyes closed?!
Anfelo: HAHAHAHA sure sure! OMG...the result is weird but there you go!

**Click any pic to enlarge!

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  1. hermoso el anfelo pues todo un talentoso

  2. Congrantulations Anfe you're such a great artist, I'm happy to know that other people appreciate because your drawings have feels and heart on it. Keep going like this you're going to be famous :)