Glen Hanson: The Party Boys of ‘Toon Townby John Calendo
The wonderful bicycle messenger above with his top-to-bottom tire-track tattoo is part Disney, part Tom of Finland and all Glen Hanson.
In fact, the 39-year-old illustrator has worked for both Disney and Hanna-Barbera, as well as for Torso, Inches and Honcho magazines!
You might think that a guy who was busy designing characters for Saturday Morning cartoon shows like Beetlejuice and Daria wouldn’t have a moment to spare to launch a second, equally full-time career. But the way Hanson tells it, his mainstream career was what he did to pay the rent, while his homo-hot fantasy studs (such as the high-fashion hunkeroo at right — Hanson’s witty homage to a very famous Dior ad by Rene Gruau) is what he needs to do for his art.
"I came up with the name G-Man," he says, "to separate my career as Glen Hanson — who was doing work for Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping — from the fantasy studs that I started drawing in my teen years. I had developed a whole Flash Gordon world populated by incredibly muscular, incredibly hung space hunks. Unfortunately, I threw those drawings out in a misguided religious fervor. I was afraid my family would find them. My father — if you can believe it! — was cataloguing all my childhood drawings by month and year! When I look back at those early drawings I’m always amazed by how fabulously sexy and well accessorized all the women were!"
Raised in Toronto, Hanson had no idea how lucrative his private stash of ‘toon boys would be until he moved to New York. "Everywhere I looked I was getting inspired by either a chiseled, gorgeous face in a fashion magazine or a cool haircut or a hot tattoo. A friend said a quick way to make money was to draw for the porn magazines."
Soon his stable of party studs were sexing up a line of greeting cards, calendars, and even a G-Man Ball at a chichi dance club. "I was in the right place at the right time." reasons Hanson. "My gay work proliferated throughout gay New York, where most American advertising and editorial art directors are."
Work began to pour in. For MTV, he created the spoofy hunks-and-babes cartoon show Spy Groove (above); for Sex and the City, a hilarious set of online paper dolls and for new products trying to crack the gay market, G-Man became the go-to guy for fun, catchy beefcake with an explicit homo twist, as in his Grand Marnier ad, at left.
Hanson now lives in Los Angeles, where he’s developing an animated version of his syndicated comic strip Chelsea Boys for possible inclusion on a new gay cable channel, Logo. Begun over six years ago as the carefree adventures of three kooky roomates (our blond friend at right is one of them), Chelsea Boys soon took on more serious issues like the prevalence of crystal meth, barebacking –even the war in Iraq.
"I wanted a balance," confides Hanson. "Some of the G-Man stuff can come off as shallow — the whole notion of running after a great body and designer clothes and hot cars. Right now, after the last election, we have to take care of business. We can’t be complacent because we face the real danger that the little we have will be taken away from us."
Taking care of business, actually, is all Glen Hanson has time to do these days. He just signed on as the official poster illustrator for Milanese fashion designer, Andrew Mackenzie (detail of poster below.)
As a man who’s been there and back, Glen Hanson would like to encourage young illustrators,who may wonder how commercial gay work might be, to stay true to the things that excite them.
"I think it all goes back to childhood," says Hanson (left). " The cartoons I saw – the early 60’s Hanna-Barbera, the classic Disney features — as well as reruns of campy 60’s sitcoms like Bewitched and Batman had a huge impact on me. I lived in my own cartoon land as a young gay child. I’d be inside drawing while the other boys were playing hockey — yuck!.
"From the age of 10, I was totally obsessed with Wonder Woman. Not only was I drawing my own Wonder Woman comics, I painted a mural of her on my bedroom wall!
“And you better believe I can still do that spin,” he says, referring to the way Wonder Woman would turbo-twirl out of her sedate street clothes and into full, flashing Amazon regalia. “I practiced it over and over behind closed doors! Ironically, the Wonder Woman spin helped me develop my abilities as a track & field athlete in junior high. So take that hockey boys!"