At the time of publication there were a number of reviews in magazines and online sites (some naturist, some not) - here is what they had to say about The Koala Bares.
Reviewed by Stéphane Deschênes
Naturist comic books!
Not long ago, from The Nudist Store I acquired Wearing A Smile, my first naturist BD. Then I read Mark Storey's review (in Nude & Natural) of Wearing A Smile and The Koala Bares. I was amazed to find one naturist BD, and now there were two! I went on a hunt for other natursit BD; what follows is my review of the various comic books currently available.
My favourite by far is The Koala Bares, by Stephen Crowley. The drawings are somewhere between cartoon and comic book in realism. What is wonderful is Stephen's depiction of every body type and shape without bias against any. The book is a collection of individual themes which revolve around one central story. The stories are appropriate for all ages and contain lessons for both naturists and non-naturists. Crowley pokes fun at many textile misconceptions about naturism but also takes afew shots at some naturist hangups. Recommended reading for all naturists.
[Please note... I snipped out the passages reviewing 'Wearing A Smile' and 'Les Minou Kinis' not due to any malice on my part towards these publications, but simply to focus attention on those passages which discuss 'The Koala Bares'. If you would like more info on either please visit the WaS website or the LMK website]
|Yarns Without Threads
Online review - November 2003 (link now 404)
Reviewed by Tim Forcer
Back in 1996, readers of Australian Sun and Health were treated to the first public appearance of Stephen Crowley's cartoon characters Loxie and Zoot. Unfortunately, the magazine decided not to publish a second strip. Undeterred, Stephen Crowley took his happy couple to the expanding world of the Internet - where word of mouth (or whatever it's net equivalent may be) soon produced an appreciative and ever-expanding audience. I caught some issues of Noodtoons at the time, but stupidly forgot that producing good-quality artwork in one's spare time means there will be quite a gap between updates, and failed to become a regular reader.
Encouraged by his readers, Stephen Crowley's next step was to produce a full-length story in book form. At this point, I couldn't help but be aware of the bandwagon. As well as net information, The Koala Bares received a positive and comprehensive review in H&E. Although I was a little concerned that buying a book from Australia could be awkward, Toons au Naturel's Website makes the whole exercise not just easy but relatively inexpensive. I did have a minor problem at one point, but sending off an email brought an immediate response and a revision of the relevant Webpage - a gold star for customer service.
The book tells a complete story, and features what has become a gloriously disparate cast. In addition to Loxie and Zoot, who run The Koala Bares naturist resort, there are singles, couples and families. It doesn't stop there: we get young and old - from several ethnic backgrounds - thin and fat, shaved and bushy, you name it! To provide the final element of the real world, we have the local town of Koala Bay. This provides not only a large collection of bit-part actors, but also the primary baddie: Councillor Tex Tyler. As part of his election campaign, this bigotted anti-nuddy wants to close down the naturist resort. A secondary anti-nuddy is local TV reporter Kylie.
In an attempt to tackle Tex Tyler's media campaign, Loxie and Zoot organise an open day. This produces a range of encounters, including a wonderfully-scripted one between two pairs kids: one long-term naturist, the other determinedly textile brought along by their curious parents. The tale is beautifully told, and it's several levels above slapstick humour played for laughs - and in my opinion is actually funnier as a result.
[The book was rated 3 out of 3 for 'Nudity', 'Naturist nudity' and 'A good read'!]
|Naturisme (Magazine of the Netherlands Naturist Federation)
Issue #3 Vol 43 - June 2003
Reviewed by Bart Wijnberg
[OK - so this review is in Dutch! Many thanks to Paul of Canada who has sent me a translation... Paul scored a free copy of the book for his troubles. Thanks Paul! English version is below the original Dutch.]
Ik vond het verdacht stil bij ons in de keuken. Toen ik een kikje ging nemen, ontwaarde ik mijn vrouw die het nieuwe stripverhaal zat te lezen dat ik haar een uurtje eerder gegeven had. Alles om zich heen vergat ze, alleen het geluid van omslaande blaadjes was te horen. En toen ze het uit had, had ze het al aan een vriendin te leen aangeboden.
I found things suspiciously quiet in our kitchen. When I took a look, I noticed my wife sitting and reading the new comic book that I had given her a short time before. She was oblivious to her surroundings; only the sound of turning pages was to be heard. And when she finished it, she had already promised to lend it to a friend.
Online review - April 2003 (link now 404)
Reviewed by Aaron Burgess
Now this is a mighty impressive book. Not only is it a big 120 pages, but it's in full colour. How often can you say that about a Aussie comic? Stephen Crowley is the man behind these pages, and yes it's quite clear from the scans that Loxie & Zoot: The Koala Bares is about nudists/naturists/what ever the term may be. The art and colour usage is really wonderful, and some of the camp fire scenes are gorgeous. Get it, get it now....
|N - The Magazine of Naturist Living
Issue #22.3 - Spring 2003
Reviewed by Mark Storey (editor-at-large)
Cartoon Books Reveal Lighter Side of Naturism
A more recent contribution to naturist cartoon books - this time from Australia - is Stephen Crowley's The Koala Bares. This book is a delight. While you are never quite sure if Cobbold ever experienced naturism outside of Cap d'Agde-style environments, Crowley's experience with club and beach naturism comes through on every page.
Crowley began creating cartoons in 1997 for the naturist magazine Australian Sun & Health, and went on to develop a regular strip for the Internet. Last year he decided to take the plunge and commit his time and resources to converting the fictional world of the Koala Bay Bares Naturist Resort into book form. Naturists will be glad that he did.
The two main characters are Loxie and Zoot, who recently have taken over the management of an Australian naturist club. Readers are quickly introduced to a diverse cast of characters. The story begins with Zoot - a well-meaning but dim-witted guy - dreaming that the world is fully nude, except for some radicals wanting the right to wear clothes and have secluded textile beaches.
The main story develops after Zoot awakes and the club members hear of a local mayoral candidate - Tex Tyler - who is running a campaign to close the town's "nudie colony." Loxie (the lead female character), Zoot, and other club members grapple with the media, the public, textile friends, and their own different mannerisms to protect and promote their resort.
All the naturist/nudist cliches are here, in artfully clever fashion. Body shapes and sizes are so realistic that naturists may be the few to "get" all the insider references. You see pregnancies, sagging breasts, wrinkles, beautiful bodies, piercings, tattoos, unshaved body hair, smoothies, and all the other physical traits that make up the wacky world of naturism. The racial diversity found among the charcters is also refreshing.
Without ever getting preachy, The Koala Bares portrays not only the good of today's naturist life, but also where naturism has room to improve. In addition, The Koala Bares gives sexual attraction its honest and fair due, while maintaining a family-friendly tone. This book is suitable for all ages, and can be given confidently to anyone ready to explore in a lighthearted fashon what naturism is all about.
The Koala Bares is a 7-by-10-inch paperback with the feel of a well-bound, quality magazine. The color artwork is printed on sturdy, glossy pages and is appealing to the eye. This book will hold up to repeated use.
[Please note... I snipped out the passages reviewing 'Wearing A Smile' not due to any malice on my part towards WaS, but simply to focus attention on those passages which discuss 'The Koala Bares'. If you would like more info on 'Wearning A Smile' please visit the WaS website]
Online review - January 2003 (link now 404)
Reviewed by Craig GafaiAu
I was impressed by the professional presentation - the pages are well laid out and in full colour. The introduction and potted history allows the reader to trace back the origins of how this venture started and the changes that have taken place right up to this book.
A worthy addition to any nudists library. You won't be disappointed.
|The Australian Naturist
Issue #17 - Summer 2002-03
Reviewed by Dr Les Rootsey (editor)
One of the most difficult professions has to be that of a cartoonist. Not only do you need to be a top quality artist but also you need a good sense of humour and a quick eye for the 'bloody obvious' in human nature. Now add to that the extra demand of naturist cartoons and you're really 'pushing the creative envelope'. One very talented naturist/cartoonist/ artist/commentator is Stephen Crowley.
Stephen has talent. Of that there is no doubt. Anyone who has read any of his cartoons that have appeared over the years in TAN or on the internet will have had a good chuckle at his quick wit and incisive ability to 'see' through the BS in life.
Over the past five years Stephen has refined his art and talent and has now produced a top-notch book of toons called 'The Koala Bares'. "The story of 'The Koala Bares' grew out of several short stories first published in 'Noodtoons' back in 1997" said Stephen. "From those original nine pages, this book grew to 120 pages and took on semi-epic proportions."
Briefly, the book plots the path of Loxie and Zoot who face various traumas surrounding the threat to their beloved nudist resort.
The two main characters in 'The Koala Bares' are the same that have graced the pages of TAN over the past four years. TAN is proud to have played such a large part in the development of Stephen's talent. This new stage to his career is just another step on what promises to be a long and successful career in naturist toons.
Reviewed by Mark Nisbet (editor)
Nudist couple Loxie and Zoot are the enthusiatic new owners of an established naturist resort - The Koala Bay Bares. Set in the Australian bush not far from the coastal township of Koala Bay, the resort is home to a mixture or ordinary folk and some colourful characters.
The plot of The Koala Bares is straightforward with Crowley bringing his textile antagonists (prejudiced and aggressive) into conflict with the nudists (casual, generally proactive and passive). He then humorously resolves their differences in set piece dramatic situations with almost everybody eventually reconciled to the nude way as being the best way.
The two principal antagonists are Tex Tyler, the wannabe mayor who vows to close down the resort if elected, and Kylie Burns a neurotic local TV reporter. She hates nudity and nudists with a passion. She backs Tyler, and is generally an all round prude but she is eventually helped along to reveal the source of her anxiety and her lack of self-esteem.
Without revealing too much The Koala Bares are compelled to throw open their doors to the community - essentially to reassure them of their integrity as nudist neighbours - and this event enables Crowley to bring the story to a comic resolution.
I enjoyed the pace of this book - the first of a planned series - and it makes no apology in declaring its focus as propaganda for the cause of nudism. This is good, necessary even as a first volume from a new nudist cartoonist, but I hope it is the last extended strip from Crowley in which the 'nudity is best' message is the dominant or only message. I would like to see him move on to a cartoon/comic exploration of nudists and their foibles, their complexes and their problems, perhaps casting his critical eyes over the personalities, rivalries and general silliness so prevalent at many nude beaches, resorts and clubs all over the world. We nudists have been around for a long time now and we might not welcome criticism from within our ranks but it could be useful - and amusing.
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