Sunday, March 25, 2012

The HIS 69 Artist's Sketchbook

Surrey House, 1972

Though labeled "Volume One" on the inside, I've never seen a trace of a "Volume Two," which surprises the hell out of me, since one-name artist Adam's covers for the HIS 69 line -- then only a year old -- appear to have been hugely popular. So what reader wouldn't have wanted an oversized (8"x11") collection of frontal nudes, many variations on those cover images? And for $3.00, when the price of a single novel was $1.95?

Beats the hell out of me, but poor sales is the only reason I can think of, unless Adam -- who alludes to an upcoming second volume in his one-page intro -- had some kind of quarrel with Surrey House. And that seems unlikely, given that he continued illustrating for them through the '70s.

To be fair, there was a lot of going on going on in New York in those days. But still, isn't the Adam story just too porno perfect? He also purportedly thinks "one of the best phrases of his day is, "Let it all hang out!" I've always been curious about Adam's identity, and haven't been able to find out a thing about that, either. Except of course for the aforementioned intro, which sounds roughly as plausible as most HIS 69 plot lines.

Adam claims to live in Greenwich Village (of course, because that's where artists live), and says that if he weren't so serious about his work, his studio "could easily turn into nothing more than another New York City Action playhouse." He's "built up a really fantastic photo and sketch collection of some of the greatest studs on the East coast," and okay, he isn't so serious that his studio doesn't turn into a New York City playhouse some of the time.
Of course, if it weren't for time-lapse shutters that collection of photos would be considerably less robust, because, yes, "it isn't unusual for yours truly to get a bit carried away and join the fun."

But to give Adam his due, he's a terrific artist and his pencils are actually much more appealing than the versions that made it onto books, in large part because of the endless variety of sickly pinks, greens, tans and blues used on HIS 69 two-color covers. This (right) is one the line's two house formats; if you're curious, you can see the other here, on the unexpected genre-twister Boys Behind Bars.

Unlike many of the artists hired by adults-only publishers, Adam's anatomical rendering is excellent and he can actually draw faces, which is more than can be said for the much-collected Tom of Finland. In all, The HIS 69 Artist's Sketchbook is an attractive adjunct to any collection of '70s gay porn... would that you could still buy it for $3.00. And if anyone has a lead on the elusive Adam, I'd love to know.

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