From its inception, Doc and Raider has been one of those strips that defies easy category. It’s a realistic love story, a political commentary, a social satire, and a musical vaudeville all at the same time. And while it may be primarily about a couple of gay guys from Canada, it has grown and developed into nothing short of an epic, with a cast that cuts across all strata of society.
Doc and Raider started back in 1987 as a small, single-panel cartoon whose initial appearance was in a LGBT publication in Vancover. Unfortunately, the paper folded after the boys’ first appearance, but they were quickly snapped up by others across Canada — and subsequently in Europe, New Zealand, Japan, and the Middle East… but always viewing things from a distinctly Canadian point of view. Tackling such issues as HIV/AIDS and gay bashing as well as leather contests and life with cats, Doc and Raider has rarely been a strip to shy away from an issue and looks for humour and drama in the all the best places, whether political or pop-cultural or just about anything else.
So who are these boys?
Doc is a still-struggling writer from Québec who currently specializes in bad romance novels and fixing the scripts of problematic Broadway shows. Formerly a rancher in Saskatchewan, Raider is a construction worker and also holds down a part time job with a hardware store. Like everyone, they have their friends and relations, many of whom show up in here from time to time. In no particular order:
— Elliot, Raider’s best friend of long time standing. A producer of “adult entertainment”, he has now emigrated to Canada to be with Gilles, Doc’s twin brother, a former Catholic priest who now works as a counselor in Québec City. They’ve now adopted a child, Raymond-François.
And then there’s:
— Mik, Raider’s close friend. He was Raider’s sparring partner at the gym where they worked out when the boys lived in the States, and the friendship has continued despite being cross-border. A field construction manager, he’s married to Kai, who’s taken over managing Elliot’s business. They’re involved in a polyamory relationship with Al, a former state trooper from Arizona who also happens to be a former Broadway hoofer.
— Eddie, filthy rich and not one bit embarrassed by it. Was prone to rent boys but now, in a move that took him by surprise as much as anyone else, engaged to André, who may or may not have been one of Eddie’s former “acquistions”.
— Aiko, a transsexual waiter at Doc and Ray’s favourite restaurant. Prone to the pithy and caustic.
— the Heathers, two girls who may or may not be lesbians. Maybe. Even they’re not sure. But then they dont seem sure of much of anything.
The series also has occasional appearances by prominent figures in the news: President Obama is a regular, as are other politicos. Even Jesus stops by every now and then to share His frustration with organized religion.
The boys have served as goodwill ambassadors for fundraisers for everything from hospices to LGBT film festivals; if you want to bring them or any of their myriad friends on, just drop me a line at sean(at)joey-aristophanes.com, and let’s see what we can do for you.