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Baritarian Boy - Exploring the Culture and History of Baritaria


Baritarian Boy is a webcomic created by married couple Fyodor Pavlov and Lawrence Gullo. As the title and subtitle would indicate, it's less of a straightforward slice of life comic, but an exploration of the (fictional) country, a small island nation in the Black Sea. The story follows two contemporary young men — Havel, a Baritarian musician turned tour guide, and Felix, a Russian art student - and the discovery of several "missing" paintings illustrating near-mythical incidents from Baritaria's history. Gullo and Pavlov alternate illustrating chapters, the comic updates on Mondays, and a dead-tree edition of the story so far (plus an entirely new story) is now for sale.

Tropes used in Baritarian Boy include:
  • Author Appeal: The comic's subject matter and queer characters would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the creators' other artwork. Pavlov also states he's a monarchist, hence why the political history of Baritaria and its kings and queens make up a significant portion of its subject matter.
  • Childhood Friends: Annibale and Valliet I. Leading into a Childhood Friend Romance.
  • Dances and Balls: Valliet I attends a masque while in Venice, the site of an attempted assassination.
  • Dark Mistress: Queen Zsu Zsa's consort looks like this. That is all.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Not of the royal variety, but the London Monster's Club featured in the second section is plenty Decadent (in the literary and artistic sense) and populated by artificially constructed humans, occultists, le Comte de St. Germain, individuals who appear to personify the Seven Deadly Sins...
  • Everything's Worse with Wolves: King Valliet's hunting expedition to dispatch a pack of wolves preying on a Baritarian village.
  • The Exile: King Valliet III spent his life in exile in Europe. His closest friends are similarly escaping Russian nobility.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Baritaria is this, in some ways, to Russia and wherever the hell Pavlov and Gullo feel like drawing inspiration from.
  • Gag Penis: "How do you fit that thing in your pants?" "I manage. Wearing no underwear helps." "...lucky me."
  • God Save Us From the Queen: While it's not clear yet if Queen Zsu Zsa is evil, her consort has been described as Baritaria's equivalent of Vlad the Impaler.
  • Impoverished Patrician: King Valliet III, living in exile as a gossip columnist. He is narcoleptic and has difficulty remembering some of the fancy parties he's invited to, forcing him to make up scandalous details.
  • The Lancer: Annibale for King Valliet. He risks his life for the Queen's safety and (indirectly) for his country, and is wounded in the process. Not quite The Champion, but still devoted. It becomes plain he's wholly willing to kill in Valliet's defense.
  • Narrative Filigree: It would be possible to tell the story of a fictional nation, or at least two young men living in one, without going into the level of exquisite detail that Gullo and Pavlov do. But what fun would that be?
  • Punny Name: Baritaria's capitol (where the art institute that Felix Sokolov attends is located) is called Stendhalstadt. Stendhal syndrome is a condition which causes people to faint from viewing extremely beautiful works of art.
  • Running Gag: The series is too brief to tell now, but Havel seems to enjoy the word "sexy".
  • Ruritania: Baritaria itself, though it's much more a love letter to Slavic and European culture long past than it is a dark and dreary dead end.
  • Sexless Marriage: Combined with Settled for Gay, though it's clear the two do deeply care for one another, in Ella and Alexei's marriage.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: spoiler: When Havel and Felix have sex, though the silhouettes aren't hiding terribly much.
  • She Is the King: Queen Zsu Zsa prefers male garb, in what feels like a shout-out to Queen Christina.
  • Shown Their Work: The amount of research put in by both authors shows, though at this point it's more like the culmination of their mutual interests.
  • Our Prime Ministers Are Different: The current Prime Minister is the King.
  • Homage: If one can be said to homage historical events. No one's outright a direct Expy of any other historical figure, but there's plenty of allusions.