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Visual Aid Presents

Hedgehog Boy: A Graphic Novel by Rene Capone

In his work, San Francisco artist Rene Capone creates a world where boys
become avatars--taking on the characteristics of animals and transforming their
identities both physically and spiritually. In this exhibition of pen and ink
illustrations for his first graphic novel, “The Legend of Hedgehog Boy,” Capone
appropriates and humorously references traditional Japanese comics.
Dynamically integrating image and text, Capone tells a story of an abused child
who rejects the role of victim and enters an alternate reality where he sets off on
a dangerous adventure of revenge, self discovery, and ultimately love and

“I wanted to create an unapologetically queer graphic novel, one with emotional

depth. Although it made me entirely uncomfortable, I started writing this story
from my own experiences, and worked outwards from there. If this book can live
up to its potential, I believe it can give boys the courage to stand up and be proud
of where they come from, instead of being ashamed.

At heart the novel is a love story, but beyond that it is a story that is not afraid to
question the world and the idea of hope. My characters explain or justify the
sexuality that surrounds them. Love and sex are complicated enough without
reinforcing internal conflict over same-gender crushes. So in their universe, they
don’t question being queer, they simply just are. I think of this graphic novel as
my love letter to any lost gay boy who needs a friend. I hope he stumbles
upon it when he needs it the most.”

This exhibition was curated by Jared Ledesma, from Visual Aid’s X-Team.

Visual Aid, a non-profit arts organization, was founded twenty years ago to serve
artists affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis. Since then, the organization has
expanded to help produce, present and preserve the work of professional, visual
artists in need, those whose careers are challenged because of any life-
threatening illness.