HIM Gay Library
It was almost inevitable that a publisher like STREET LEVEL LTD with a director who was also one of the most popular illustrators of erotic subjects should consider what became a sensational series of novels accompanied by illustrations.
In many ways the regular ROGUE comic-strips in HIM magazine were narratives in visuals and although an illustrator Oliver Frey’s interests included the written form, which led to the creation of the HIM Gay Library Series. Over 18 months in 1980–1982, Street Level Ltd published 12 novels, copiously illustrated by Oliver.
Magazine distribution is a complex business, more so back in the 20th century when there were so many more print titles on sale every month. Gold & Son (David and Ian Gold) distributed the HIM stable of magazines. They paid one-third of the cover price per copy delivered to them (less their percentage) at 30 days of invoice receipt; one-third at 90 days; and the balance less returns at 120 days. Magazines were almost always sold to the newstrade on a sale-or-return basis, and if you wanted to reach maximum sales possible the publisher always printed considerably more stock than would be sold, which meant that final third payment often didn’t exist, set off as it was against the returned copies. It was hard to make money!
Quarterly titles “enjoyed” even worse terms and payment phasing, making them unviable. We suggested that we would produce three different titles, one each month of each quarter, and treat the trio as one title for payment terms. Gold agreed and so were born the periodicals Buddy and Hot Dog and the HIM Gay Library. The first two were male-model photo vehicles, the last was a gamble. Would gay men buy illustrated medium-length novels published in a magazine format (A4)? It turned out they would and the series, was a sell-out. In fact, the first two ran to three printings and the second couple of titles were in their second run when the series came to an end.
The Library came out two at a time, so we had three months for each pair in which to source authors, get the manuscripts read, edited, typeset (no digital publishing then) and for Oliver to do the page layouts of the text to fit his ink drawings. Collectors’ items today, copies are rare, but five of the novellas (Boys of Vice City, Blood and Lust, The Warrior’s Boy [Warrior Boy], Desert Studs, Raw Recruits) were later extended and appeared again as paperbacks. They can be found as PDFs in our BOOKS section.
Published by Zack Art on (modified )