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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Unfinished Comics - TALES OF THE CLOSET by Ivan Velez Jr.

This is one of the most frustrating of all unfinished comics, for several reason. Primarily because of the quality of the work, which is very high. Also because it came so close to the ending, with only one issue left. And then there's the nature of the ending to the (planned) penultimate and (so far) final issue, with multiple cliffhangers. It also doesn't help that the creator has indicated at various times an intention to finish up, and taken steps in that direction, but for whatever reason it hasn't come together. And finally, as well as being a very good book, it has the potential to be an very important book, which is somewhat mitigated by a lack of both an ending and availability.

I'm talking, of course, about TALES OF THE CLOSET by Ivan Velez Jr., which saw nine out of a planned ten issues published from 1987 to 1993 by the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a non-profit LGBT youth outreach program in New York. It tells the story of a group of eight very different LGBT teens who meet in their Queens high school in the mid-1980s and navigate the complications of life (including the general complications of growing, the specific complications of growing up queer and the melodramatic complications thrown in their paths as part of being comic book characters). I've written about the book a few times before (here and here), and everything I've said before stands. It's a remarkably densely plotted drama which has an educational mission, but never one that gets in the way of the storytelling. In fact, Velez manages to walk a tightrope of having the the story and the education elements reinforce each other, making the lesson that much more likely to take since it's so ingrained in the story.

As I've said, Velez has indicated a few times over the years an interest in completing the story (and if I recall correctly even in doing more stories following the characters into adulthood), going so far as to reprint the first three issues in a collection in 2005. Unfortunately, that only seems to have gotten out the first of four planned volumes. I believe he's also made digital editions of the existing story available on some platforms in recent years, although nowhere that I can find right now. Hopefully one of these days everything will come together to get at least the ending, and the entire thing can be released in one handy well produced volume. It comes to 329 pages for the extant story, say about 50 or so for the ending, add in the covers and a few extras (Velez did a few stories for GAY COMIX, I'm not sure if any of them fit thematically with TOTC, if they do that would be a nice addition), toss in some notes to put it in the context of its time and you have a nice 400-450 page book which belongs in every high school library and would certainly be on my bookshelf. 


  1. Some good news is about to be announced soon about the series. ;)

  2. Hi Ivan. Good to hear. Looking forward to any news after so long.

  3. Hello Ivan, it's 2019 I'm still waiting issue 10 I still have the other nine issues. Please

  4. I know this post is nearly five years old, but every few years I do a search to try to find more Tales of the Closet--all I've ever tracked down is the collected edition of the first three volumes, and Valez' official site won't load the Tales page anymore... Were the later issues that were completed at least ever released online?


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