Red hair? Check. Violet eyes? Check. Wolf companions? Check. Celtic torc? Check. Werewolves? Check. Boys who love each other? Check. Poignant death scene? Check. This 1983 tale by Nancy Springer, "The Golden Swan," had all those things and more. I think it even had a rising from the dead, as the violet-eyed dark haired guy got resurrected. It's been a long time and I don't quite remember. My art database says that these two are named "Frain" and "Dair."
This book and countless others like it, written by straight women for a mostly straight female audience, maintained a trend of boy love and Gay relationships in female fan worlds. The loving couples were continued in endless oceans of fan fiction such as the notorious "Kirk/Spock" mythos. I read plenty of it but did not write any. I made bad or mediocre illustrations for such efforts. I continue to wonder why stories about man-to-man love in fantasy adventures appealed so much to the female readers, even when "authentic" gay men read them and pronounced them unrealistic and absurd.
I think some of the appeal was that these were stories with two socially equal characters, not a subservient one (traditionally female) and a dominant male. Two strong guys could be tender to each other which made the reader feel tenderness too. Another thing was that the (straight) women could imagine themselves as one of the characters in this equal relationship, rather than in the unequal straight-couple relationship they might be stuck in (the divorce rate among fantasy authors is way high, even now). I haven't read enough Lesbian fiction to know whether this type of co-equal relationship occurs among the fantasy women.
I painted this, and many more like it, just because I had recently read the book and wanted to try some character and romance/fantasy illustration. I wouldn't do this again unless I wanted to re-read the book and re-conceive the characters, which isn't gonna happen any time soon.
"Frain and Dair" are gouache (opaque watercolor) on illustration board, 8" x 10", November 1983.