Zine Spotlight: Wuvable Oaf

Ed Luce, creator of the popular zine-style comic, Wuvable Oaf, "adapted [his] technical skills as a painter into a more sequential narrative structure and began hand-making zines." He began Wuvable Oaf 4 years ago and today has approximately a dozen comics, which have inspired vinyl 7" singles, scratch n' sniff cards that capture the odors of the characters, Oafberry flavored lollipops, and even underwear that the Oaf wears for those that want to "slip into his clothes." I caught up with Ed Luce to discuss how the Wuvable Oaf zine and brand came about, how the zine has fulfilled him artistically, and discovered what he and his team have in store for the rest of the year.

How did you get into independent publishing, art and the like?

I was a painter for years but when I moved to San Francisco, my studio space was too small for that type of work.  At the time, I was already using a lot of cartoon imagery in my paintings, so comics seemed a very natural medium to evolve into.

A few good friends urged me to turn one of my drawings, a paper doll design for this character "Wuvable Oaf", into a comic.  From there, I adapted my technical skills as a painter into a more sequential narrative structure  and began hand-making zines.  Nearly four years and a dozen plus comics later, I've never felt more artistically fulfilled than I have self-publishing comics.  It just comes pouring out of me.

How would you describe what you do and the work that you produce?

Wuvable Oaf, while primarily comics based, is really a larger art project.  There's a story I'm telling with the familiar format and visual language of comics but I've always liked the idea of creating these artifacts from a fictional cartoon universe.  I think that's a hold-over from my days as a studio artist and the kind of mixed media work I made.  So I'm always dreaming up ways to push my characters beyond a purely visual realm.  The comic has inspired music in the form of vinyl 7" singles (written by members of Limp Wrist and Needles), scratch n' sniff cards that capture some of the characters' personal odors, even Oafberry flavored lollipops.  This past winter, we made replica underwear like the type Oaf wears, so you had the opportunity to slip into his clothes.  And now, with the Oaf doll, you can even hug a miniature version of him.   

What are you trying to communicate through your zines, art, website and other designs?

I think the central theme of Wuvable Oaf involves masculinity and the many strange ways it manifests within our culture.  It's from a gay perspective but doesn't seek to exclusively speak to a single audience; I try to structure the stories and dialogue in such a way that anyone can enjoy them, regardless of gender or sexuality.  As the series progresses, I feel I'm really starting to comment more on the fluidity of masculinity; how the lines between hetero and homo blur.  That's where all the interesting stuff takes place...particularly in regard to familiar pop cultural phenomenon like professional wrestling, heavy metal music and fashion.

What does your work consist of?

The comic book itself is really two series that intertwine.  The main book is sequentially numbered and features a multi-part storyline about the titular character, Oaf, looking for love in San Francisco.  I also release one-shot minis that shine a spotlight on some of the extended cast members, including the disco grindcore band Ejaculoid.  These come out more frequently (two to three times a year) and are printed in my apartment then handmade, zine-style.

What are your current projects, past and upcoming events?

I'm currently in the middle of a mini signing tour for Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever #1, the sequel mini-series to Igloo Tornado's wildly popular Henry & Glenn Forever (available at cantankeroustitles.com).  I have a story in that new book, about Henry and Glenn in couple's therapy.  Tom Neely and Benjamin Marra each do what they do best with the characters and concept in that issue too.

Leading up to SF Zinefest, I'll be at Comic-Con in San Diego this July (with Prism Comics), releasing a new mini and taking part in Justin Hall's Fantagraphics/No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics panel.  And right after Zinefest, the Oaf crew will be taking off to exhibit at the Tokyo Art Book Fair!  It'll be our first trip to Japan.

What is your favorite thing about the SF Zine Fest?

The crowd is very different from most other events I go to.  Since it's near Golden Gate Park, there's a lot of casual foot traffic and they always seem to be genuinely interested and excited by what they see at the booths.

By the same token, there are quite a few exhibitors at Zinefest that I don't see anywhere else, so it's fun discovering new work by a different group of people. 

Wuvable Oaf can be found at: