Review: 'Hotblood!' by Toril Orlesky
A gay western centaur romance isn't the kind of story I encounter enough, even in furry fandom. Hotblood! A Centaur In the Old West is a webcomic by Toril Orlesky that ran from 2013-2016. The color artwork is as stark as the landscape, but the story is a bit more complicated than the black-and-white world that the western genre is known for.
The art is lovely enough that I was mostly able to put aside the sometimes uneven pacing. As the story circles around the action, it digs deeper into its characters' pasts - and their hearts. The two main characters are not morally whole men, and therefore they caught my interest.
Rook is a centaur. In the story universe, centaurs are an integrated part of American society. There's some social stigma, but not as much as you might think for someone who looks half-animal. There's at least one centaur in the U.S. Senate, for example. Rook is employed by Asa, a human steel tycoon. We don't get to see much of the world outside of their relationship, and it's only by the second half of the story that we really start seeing the two of them bond, sexually and romantically.
I liked their adventures. Personally I would've liked to have seen more naughty bits, because the way physical intercourse would work between a centaur and a human would probably have some awkward dynamics, and I'm a curious man. Still, this hardly affects the plot or Rook and Asa's characterization. They manage, and I wish some of their playfulness had been more visible in the story's first half, when I was having trouble maintaining interest. Regardless, my curiosity on the rest of their world is piqued, and I hope to see more! I'm wondering about the state and status of Native Americans in this story's universe, though. Their complete absence is concerning.
Besides the original webcomic, there's a book of related art, Hotblood! Foundry. And it looks like there was adult content included with the Kickstarter for the paperback omnibus edition (looks like I missed out on that).
Still, good news! A sequel webcomic, Hotblood! Zarco, is currently being serialized, although it's on hiatus until January 2018 or so. All in all it seems pretty engaging, but then I'm only halfway through. I haven't encountered anything about those Natives yet. Here's hoping that I will, and that it'll be interesting and not annoying.