Greg Fox is the writer and illustrator of Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast, a gay-themed comic strip about a group of guys living in suburbia New York state. HIM Magazine interviews Fox where he talked about his life before he got into comics illustration; where he gets the ideas for Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast; and the diversity of the characters in the strip:
[HIM Magazine] What gave you the idea? Are the cast of characters based on anyone real?
[Fox] It started out towards the end of my tenure drawing baseball biography comics, (yes, that job was as boring as it probably sounds). I began imagining what life would be like for a closeted baseball player, and soon I was writing a comic strip about him. I fleshed it out with some other gay characters, and soon I had them sharing a house together, which I later decided should be a B&B, to enable me to bring in new faces from time to time. Mind you, I didn’t know what to actually do with this comic strip, being that it was all gay, gay, gay… and I was, at the time, working in mainstream comics which was straight, straight, straight! (This was the 1990′s, before all of the recent advances in comic books.) So I sat on it for a little while, but I just felt so strong about it. It really felt far superior to anything I’d done before. Finally, I broke down and drew up the first five episodes (prior to that, I’d only been scripting the episodes, not actually drawing them). And then I sent out samples to some gay mags, and things began to take off!
[HIM Magazine] Your characters all seem to be hunky and masculine; how else do you deal with breaking down gay stereotypes in your strips?
[Fox] Well, they’re really not all hunky and masculine. I think a lot of people are misled because they see the publicity images of the five core main characters… and three of them are kind of muscular, hunky guys, but there are other characters in the strip… some with weight issues, one with mobility impairment, one senior citizen who’s 83 years old. There’s a trans character, too, who’s anything but masculine! And I’m always bringing in new faces, and I have a lot of interesting, unique characters in the wings for upcoming stories who will add to the diversity. Of course, I’m not denying there are some other muscular hunks, too… there’s Kyle’s boyfriend Breyer, and Drew from Alabama… very hunky, hairy chested guys! But that’s not all the strip’s about.
[HIM Magazine] You mention a transgender character in your series. Do you have anyone who is HIV+ too?
[Fox] Yes, Jeff Olsen, who’s a very popular character in the strip is hiv+ (he was a baseball player on Brad’s team for a while), and then there’s Morgan St. Cloud who is transgender. She is a successful creative director at Lance’s advertising firm. The key thing with Morgan is she’s a successful, fully realized character. I didn’t want to write her as a victim, or in crisis about being transgender. Although, she’s clearly had some struggles in her past.
While Fox does include a variety of diverse characters as he states, a few of the more mentionable ones–the non-hunks–have appeared more as special guest stars rather than recurring cast. The senior character hasn’t been seen since they decided not to ship him off to the old folks home; It’s been a while since we’ve seen the transgender character; and the HIV positive character, a baseball buddy of one of the main hunks, was sent to play ball off in Uranus or somewhere as he definitely has fallen off the planet of Northport (the setting for Kyle’s). I would love to see some more strips where these characters appeared more regularly. We all want to see ourselves portrayed and I’m sure seniors and HIV positive people would love to see themselves portrayed as fully realized as well.