Essentially an intimate look into Deacon’s therapy sessions, with the mission’s events told in flashback, the narrative grips the reader from the first panel to the last, treating the audience to a moving rumination on love, free will, sexuality, and the question of whether a machine can feel. Woolfson and Nelson cover this familiar territory with fresh eyes, bolstered by solid artwork; it’s an emotional winner that deserves notice.
Originally published as a serial webcomic, Artifice is a full-color graphic novel that tells a cyberpunk same-sex love story... Although Artifice is for mature audiences only, its violent and sexual content is directly in service to a thought-provoking science fiction story that will keep the reader fascinated to the final page. Bonus pages offering the creators' responses to reader questions about the story, a "behind-the-scenes" glimpse into the making of Artifice, and tongue-in-cheek question-and-answer segments from the Corporation's perspective ("Together, we truly can manufacture a brighter tomorrow!") round out this striking, vivid, and memorable graphic novel.
Artifice isn't experimental; it doesn't push any conceptual boundaries in its treatment of sexuality, or, indeed, of anything. It's just a well-written, cleverly plotted action-romance with two likable, appealing leads who are gay...
The mainstream isn't exactly interested in gay protagonists in its pulp genre product at the moment. But reading Artifice, you can almost see that future in which gayness in sci-fi is neither disavowed, nor avante garde, but simply normal."
Comic fans who love sci-fi, action, and gay romance won’t want to miss Alex Woolfson and Winona Nelson’s new graphic novel Artifice. Not only because the story features gay protagonists, but because the comic portrays their relationship as completely normal.
(Artifice was also listed by The Advocate as one of the Top 5 LGBT Graphic Novels of 2013.)
I really loved ARTIFICE - it's the kind of story that would have meant everything to me as a teen reader, and even as an adult, this gay-positive sci fi graphic novel made me so happy. I actually intended to just read the first page or so (since I didn't have a lot of time) and ended up reading it through to the end, everything else pushed aside. Just like the best sci-fi and fantasy books did for me when I was a teen, reading with a flashlight under the covers until 3 or 4 in the morning, when my Dad would get up and I'd have to fast-pretend to be asleep!
- I'm here. I'm queer. What the hell do I read?
As I hold a copy in my hands, I can assure you that the beautifully bound graphic novel is printed with quality, its glossy cover and thick pages making it the kind of book you’d willingly add to your coffee-table collection.
It’s a gorgeous work of art...
Artifice is larger than most graphic novels, a commendable choice that shows off Winona Nelson’s clean and expressive art. In one multipanel sequence, Deacon suddenly grabs another man’s arm, shows reactions of surprise, followed by a subtle indication of affection, followed by an embarrassed pulling-away. Deacon is in a sympathetic state of confusion, not just because of his sexuality, but because he has seemingly surpassed the level of his programming—as he explains, “I also have a difficult time connecting with others. I’m a soldier. It’s not part of my design.”
The robopsychotherapist, Dr. Maven, strikes a realistic balance between genuine scientific curiosity and utter disdain for a nonhuman who, as she sees it, is mimicking real human emotions, or simply malfunctioning. The characters seem real and likable, and the interpersonal dynamics anchor the story more than the occasional shoot-’em ups.
- ForeWord Reviews - Summer 2013
The violence and, yes, sexual content in Artifice does mark it as for mature readers, but rather than being an excuse for zero-gravity sex scenes, it’s a true science fiction story with well-rounded characters and a plot that promises to make readers really think.
Gorgeous artwork at home with a fascinating story. It has a million red flags of cliché, but contains none. It is wholly unique, a fabulously built universe, and features an absorbing main character.
Expertly written, gorgeous art, complex characters, and a fantastic plot. I would rec this even for someone who isn't really into webcomics just because the writing is so great.
Winona Nelson’s art is spectacular – realistic and detailed without being cluttered or fussy. Her deft work suits the action-oriented panels and the more subtle interactions equally well. Her use of facial expression is remarkable, contributing significantly to Woolfson’s emotionally resonant writing.
Cultural Barbwire Best of 2013 List - Artifice
- Broken Frontier
Woolfson moves things along nicely without being too quick in building the relationship between Deacon and Jeff, a relationship that at first seems terribly wrong given the circumstances, which I don’t want to spoil. But it works. And while the characters are gay, it’s still a universal story.
Woolfson is currently in the middle of a completely different story, “The Young Protectors,” on the book’s website. It’s a superhero story that’s posted at least weekly as he raises more money to pay his artist. I recommend checking them both out (if you’re an adult).
Finalist in Graphic Novel category - 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards
Bronze Award - GRAPHIC NOVEL / DRAWN BOOK – DRAMA - 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards
Alex Woolfson Interview with AdamMaleBlog (NSFW)