What are you doing on Sunday evening, August 1st, at 7 p.m.? Nothing, I’m sure, more important than attending a reading/signing of the Virgin Project 2 at the new Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill!

Grace and Kevin at the Comics Dungeon

Kevin Boze and his wife Grace

If you missed the fun at the Comics Dungeon, here is your chance to meet the artists and collect valuable autographs. Stasia Kato is making a special trip from Colorado, so both artists will be present.

The Virgin Project 2 is currently a “Staff Pick” at Elliott Bay!

Kevin Boze signs books at Comics Dungeon

The Virgin Project 2 was unleashed on the world at the end of April, accompanied by major buzz. First the private launch party, attended by none other than The Stranger’s Paul Constant:

“The second Virgin Project book is more expertly crafted than the first. Each account of sexual activity—with a German prostitute, with a Klingon at a Star Trek convention, being so high on mushrooms that you believe you’re having gay sex with Bob Marley—is lovingly rendered, and the book is a fun, sexy read all the way through.” Read more …

Then a rave review by Associated Content’s Donna Barr:

“These stories could have been told without kindness and care. They could have been just an excuse to sell sex. In the hands of Boze and Kato, they have become the call to face our sexuality as it truly is, without prejudice or stereotypes. This is a high-wire act, and without the sweet, humble approach of this talented duo, it would have crashed into the sawdust far below. Don’t try this at home.” Read more …

That Saturday, April 30, Kevin and Stasia lovingly presented their brainchild at the Erotic Arts Festival. Then, on Sunday, the pièce de resistance: the book’s creators were named Cartoonists of the Year by Cartoonists Northwest, which also awarded The Virgin Project 2 the Golden Toonie Award in the Comic Books/Graphic Novels Category.

If you missed all the initial fanfare, be sure to take advantage of your next chance to hobnob with Author/Illustrator Kevin Boze. Tell all your friends about the upcoming Reading/Signing at the Comics Dungeon on Saturday, June 5, from 2-5 p.m.

Here’s the address:

Comics Dungeon
250 NE 45th St
Seattle, Washington 98105
(206) 545-8373

We’ll see you there!

Back in February I made a trip to Seattle to meet with Kevin, Grace and our publisher to start the assembly of book 2. We got a lot done over the weekend, firstly settling on the final version of the cover, soon to grace the novel as it hits stores this May!cover 3 - small

So we all sat down after one of Grace’s amazing dinners, poured out generous glasses of wine and spread out copies of the pages with the innocent intent of ordering them into a smooth-flowing, cohesive graphic novel. We attempted the impossible by trying to break the stories down into categories so that we could spread out story “types” equally throughout the book:

Were the characters boy/girl? How do you define that in cases of trans sexuality and gender confusion?

Gay/straight? By whose definition? Not all “loss-of-virginity-acts” align with the person’s sexual orientation.

Were the stories Funny/happy/sad/tragic? Some hit several emotions at once.

Book layout is something I am new at, and Grace and Kevin did this very well on their own with the publication of volume 1 back in 2008. I had no idea how complicated this process was, and Grace’s journalism and paper layout experience were invaluable. After some general ground-rules, it mostly came down to “artistic-gut-feelings” and after a couple of hours we’d assembled a good, solid collection of stories that we’re extremely proud of. Here are a couple of things we noticed along the way:

This volume is comprised of 138 pages of comics, slightly more than Volume 1, which has 131.

We’re showing slightly more nudity (this is a book about sex, after all).

A majority of stories coming from women (guys? Come on, we know you’re doing it).

B

Ideally, this table would have been about 20 feet longer…

D

We demonstrate our jedi-reflexes.

FWe take this very, very seriously.

It was an exciting evening and very satisfying to see all our hard work finally gel just a little bit. In just about a month and a half it should all be bound, beautiful and available!!

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HThe Virgin Projecti, and welcome to the blog for The Virgin Project.  Stasia and I are very excited to be a part of the Fanny Press family.  This is our first book, and we are enormously proud of it.  We are also working actively on getting “Volume 2″ ready for publication.

My publisher sent me a nice note, telling me about this page and asking me to “start blogging”!  Huh?  I’m reminded of the time my grandfather “taught” me and my brother how to swim by deliberately capsizing the rowboat the three of us were in, and then shouting, “Swim, God damn you! SWIM!!”

Actually, Grampa had a point: when your life depends on it, it’s amazing how quickly you pick it up.

So, let’s talk a bit about how all this got started.

I was invited by my friend John Justig (of “Last Kiss Comics” fame)  to participate in a project called “Comic Biography Theatre,” an interactive art project created especially for Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival.  Visitors would sit down and write down true stories from their own lives and then we cartoonists (there were five of us on staff at any given time) would scoop them up and turn the stories into cartoons.

The average cartoonist managed to crank out one story during his shift.  I did five.  And I fell in love with the idea of doing cartoons “based on a true story.”

From there, it was a short shift to “How did you lose your virginity?”  Maybe it’s just the circles I run in, but this seems to be a popular ice-breaker at parties, and it occurred to me that it might be a good candidate for cartoons.  I collected some stories from friends and family, started drawing, and saved the cartoons in a folder.

Then came the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival, or SEAF (as it is commonly known).   Stasia Kato and I had visited SEAF the previous year and were so impressed with what we saw that we made a pact that we would submit artwork for the jury the next time it came around.  When SEAF announced that it was accepting applications for the 2006 show, Stasia and I dutifully drew up some artwork and sent it in.

ZanderAlmost as an afterthought, I noticed that my $10 submission fee also allowed me to submit a “performance piece” at no extra charge.  I suggested my own version of Comic Biography Theatre, where SEAF visitors would tell me true stories of their first time, and Stasia and I would create the art right there in the gallery and tack it up on the wall as we went.  It didn’t seem fair to pirate CBT’s name, so I struggled for something really catchy and brilliant to call it.

“Catchy and brilliant” was eluding me that day, so I wrote down the first thing that came to mind:  The Virgin Project.

To my utter astonishment, SEAF emailed me back with, “We love it!!  We especially love the fact that it is interactive!”  Stasia and I were formally invited to set up our drawing tables in a room devoted to the purpose, and we got to work.  “The Virgin Project” was born.

And it took off.  I was hoping that we might be able to convince a few dozen people to participate, but I didn’t need to worry.  Stasia and I were stampeded.  We were there every single hour of every day that SEAF was open, and we each had people lined up to share their stories.  The gallery room was packed.  People were lined up, four-deep, to read the stories.  We were interviewed by reporters.  A representative from an erotic festival in Canada implored us to take “The Virgin Project” to his show.  We drew cartoons as fast as we could and the pages started to fill every available space on the walls.

In other words, we were a hit.

SEAF invited us back for their 2007 and 2008 shows, making “The Virgin Project” to be the only performance piece to be at the festival three years running.

Almost from the start came the question, “so what are you going to do with all these cartoons?  Is it going to be a book?”

Stasia and I hadn’t really thought too much about “what next?” but turning VP into a book certainly seemed the next logical step.  Once we made the commitment, we started working at turning it into a reality.

Stasia and I had a choice: work hard and make a book happen or let the idea slip into oblivion and exchange the title of “author” for that of “wishful thinker.”

And we did it.  My grandfather was right: once you make up your mind not to drown, swimming is the next logical step, and it comes naturally.

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vp_front thumbBoze and Kato’s The Virgin Project is a sensitive but uncensored look into peoples’ first sexual experiences.

Miranda’s story is sweet, simple, and nice—the way you wish your first experience was.  Clifton discovered he was gay while looking at Mexican girly mags in a treehouse with his best friend.  Patty was playing around with her girlfriend in the garage, on the hood of Dad’s mustang, when Mom walked in and offered to take her to a shrink. Jim hired a prostitute so he wouldn’t be inexperienced on his wedding night.  Marc was raped by his high school wrestling coach.

Boze and Kato tell the truth: from romance to rape, this is how it is.  Each story is told in the person’s own words and professionally illustrated.  It’s an amazing collection.  If you have teenagers, and you care about their health and happiness, this is the book you want to accidentally leave on the coffeetable.

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