When artist Emma Vieceli took to Twitter about her ongoing webcomic with Malin Rydén being censored by Apple on the Tapas iOS app, it brought up a familiar struggle for creators: adult content, even when put under a filter in alignment with a site’s terms and conditions, is being censored all over the web. That is especially the case for content that centers queer folx and our relationships, and Breaks is no different.
While researching our coverage of the issue, I started reading Breaks from the start and found a comic centered on a high school romance between two boys whose ties are deep, but complicated. Homophobia is rampant among their peers and queer bashing is common. Still, somehow, Ian and Cortland manage to figure things out — sort of — in an aching, slow-burn story that so far has stretched across four years and is still going strong.
As Vieceli mentioned in her Twitter thread, Breaks does venture into consensual, sexual territory at two points (both in the last eight months), but the comic is never overly explicit, pornographic, or fetishistic in the way that queer stories can sometimes be. Ian and Cortland are human beings who grow significantly over the course of the story and their friends and peers feel like more than just archetypes, too.
The story feels intimate, especially because the pages are sketched and colored only in shades of yellow and tan. The pared down, simplistic art contributes significantly to the day-in-the-life feeling of the story and makes it feel like settling into a comfortable spot with a hot cup of tea and a really long, really good book.
Note: characters in Breaks do employ homophobic attitudes and language, and there is on-page violence. If these things are potentially triggering, take caution if you choose to read. This comic is also recommended for ages 18+ (US).
Breaks updates weekly on Tapas and is currently on Chapter 202. You can also purchase a paperback edition collecting weekly updates from 2014-2016. In July, a special hardback edition of the second arc was successfully funded on Kickstarter.
Check out the full synopsis for the series below:
Cortland Hunt has made some dangerous mistakes. Now he’s waiting quietly for those mistakes to catch up with him. Ian Tanner coasts through life denying the spark of anger beneath his laid back exterior.
When school politics and personal lives become a battleground, the pair find that what they share may just be their only safe haven.
Bringing the world of LGBT young adult fiction into the realm of comic books, and collecting the first arc of the acclaimed weekly web series (2014-2016), Breaks is the story of two young men discovering who they were, who they are, and who they will become. It’s a love story…but a little broken.