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Instagram has no shortage of dudes posting selfies that show off their sexiest angles. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll also find a plentitude of talented artists using the photo-sharing app to showcase their work. (Their art might also feature dudes showing off their sexiest angles, and we’re not complaining if it does.) But we thought we might profile some of the artists who’ve caught our eye.
First up: Zachary Brunner, an artist who realizes characters from pop culture and fantasy in a way that makes them look gloriously gay, occasionally gory and altogether great.
Brunner, who counts artists as diverse as Sergio Toppi and Guillermo Del Toro as major inspirations, has been drawing his whole life — and has been doing it professionally since 2011. His latest project is Markosia Comics’ Plague, a series that uses European folk tales and the bubonic plague as the background for the church’s war on magical creatures. Brunner says as the series’ artist that he’s been allowed to redesign fantasy creatures both well-known and obscure: “Basically, I got to go wild and have a lot of fun designing monsters, which is a dream job.”
Brunner puts that same enthusiasm into his artistic output online, where he’s re-envisioned everyone from Link of Legend of Zelda to Superboy into thick, hunky pinups. “It wasn’t until maybe two years ago that I started drawing sexy pinup guys,” Brunner says. “I was starting to feel like it wasn’t fair that straight comic fans got to have all the sexy artwork of hot babes in ridiculous poses. Why not switch it up and give the gays a chance?”
But it’s a less-standard pinup guy whom Brunner holds especially dear, he explains. “There will always be a spot in my heart for Gandalf. I’ve been a huge Lord of the Rings nerd ever since I read The Hobbit as a young kid. I have his rune tattooed on my arm. To me, he’s a symbol of perseverance and hope in the face of despair.”
And no, Brunner has no plans to make Gandalf sexy. “He’s too pure for that,” he says.
In general, Brunner expresses a fondness for the strong women of fantasy, sci-fi and superhero culture. “I was obsessed with the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz,” he says, “and Batman Returns and Batman and Robin, because I was also obsessed with Catwoman and Poison Ivy.”
Brunner posts his work on Instagram, on Facebook and on Tumblr. Those social networks can help artists find people who enjoy their work. Some artists might tell you that they can also just make it easier for people to criticize, but Brunner says he’s found people to be largely receptive of his work. “I haven’t gotten much criticism, however I have had people yell at me to stop ruining their favorite heroes by ‘gaying them up,’” he says. “I’m not gonna listen.”
Are you an artist? Or do you follow an artist on Instagram who you think deserves a shout-out? Good news! We want make this artist spotlight a regular feature. Reach out to the author of this post on Twitter and tell him who you think deserves a profile.