Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LGBT Themes in American Comics

To my support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights, I am writing this post on LGBT themes in comics.
Comic Strips
Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury was the first comic strip to directly talk about homosexuals, where it introduced Andy Lippincott, who was gay. This character later died due to an AID-related death. This storyline led Garry to be nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. However, three newspapers (out of the 900 carrying the strip) refused to publish this. Mark Slackmeyer, a long time supporting character, was revealed to be gay, which got some people mad. In Bloom Country, two of the main characters met a gay couple. However, not all coming out of characters have being well received. Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse decided to make one of the characters gay, which lead to him receive death threats by people who oppose homosexuals. The widely circulated strips Candorville and The Boondocks have gay characters appear time to time. Several webcomic creators are openly gay / lesbian and some their work features gay and lesbian characters. Heavy Metal touches on many issue involving sexuality.
Mainstream American comic books

Historically, mainstream comics excluded LGBT characters. This was mainly because of the homophobic Comic Code of Authority. However, recently, comic book creators have added LGBT characters to make their fictional world more realistic. For example, Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic has included transgender characters.
DC Comics
Batman and Robin have been accused of being a gay couple. So, female characters (such as Batgirl and Batwoman) were added. Despite this, the duo have continued being associated with being gay. The Nightmaster might have been gay, but this was unclear. The New Guardian member Extra├▒o (whose name means “Strange”) was the first obvious homosexual comic book character. But, some people thought he was too stereotypical. In Hellblazer #6 and 7 and Swamp Thing #74, John Constantine fought with gay bashers. The Sandman: A Game of You story (1991) and a 1992 Legion of Super-Heroes storyline explored transgender themes. In The Authority, two of the members, Apollo and Midnighter (seen above), were a gay couple to the point of being married. Recently, the newest version of Batwoman is lesbian and characters (such as Icemaiden, Sarah Rainmaker and the reformed Pied Piper) turned out to bisexual.
Marvel Comics
Sadly, Marvel has had a less favorable history in this matter than DC, mainly due to Jim Shooter, who banned LGBT people from Marvel Universe. However, several gay characters got their own titles, but with warning labels on them, to avoid angry conservative protests. But this was later ditched and there has been same-gender sex scenes. Northstar of the Alpha-Flight was the first major gay character in Marvel Comics. Other LGBT mutants include fan-favorite Mystique and Destiny. Phat, Vivisector, and Bloke (until they died), of the X-Statix, were all gay. X-Factor's Rictor and Shatterstar (both males) turned out to bisexual (they had an on-panel kiss). In Witches, Brian Patrick Walsh, the bad girl, sleeps with other women. In the 2002 revamp of Rawhide Kid, the titular character became one of the first openly gay characters. In Young Avengers, Hulkling and Wiccan were revealed to homosexual.
Archie Comics
In Veronica # 202, we meet Kevin Keller, a new kid in town. The titular character fell in love with him. However, Kevin reveals to Jughead, he is not interested in Veronica and is closeted homosexual. He asks Jughead to not reveal his sexuality, which he agrees (he was mad at Veronica). Most of the story focused on Veronica's cluelessness.
Other publishers
In the 1990s, there were several comic book companies that decided to ditch the Comic Code of Authority. These included Malibu, Image and Dark Horse comics. Due to not being bound by the CCA, they had greater artistic freedom and created several LGBT characters. These include Malibu Comic's Spectral and Turbo Charge, Gen13's Sarah Rainmaker (created by Wildstorm, which DC later bought). In Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, we meet lesbian characters like Willow, Tara and Kennedy; and Andrew (who is a closeted homosexual).

1 comment:

  1. This is an update for the Archie Comics post. Kevin has now had his (first) kiss in the comic. Here is a video of an interview with his creater. :) http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/archie-comics-gay-kiss/51fadb5c02a760409e000529