Posted on December 1, 2009
This article can now be found here:
December 3, 2009
Fascinating. I had no idea that comics had come (out) so far. But once there was a gay character in “For Better or Worse,” I guess anything could happen.
Yeah, but human-dragon love is still off limits. We’ll get there.
December 15, 2009
What a terrific column. I had no idea… Thanks for the introduction.
Wanted to let you know the Jan 2010 issue of Harper’s is available online and I downloaded that piece I mentioned to you in Glenn’s threads. If you’d like it email me, and I’ll send it along. 969KB/6pg
January 2, 2010
Comics & gay heroes/villains. Interesting topic.
While I think that the genre is largely (90%+) hetero, and that romance need not be dealt with too in-depth for most heroic comics which are primarily focussed on … defeating evil and remaining good….
I’m more concerned with the through-lines, the underlying content, of heroic comics.
I loved comics as a child. Why? B/c every kid wants to fly, wants to be tough, wants to get attention & wear fun clothes (& cape?), and kick the butt of anything frightening.
But as you grow older & read deeper into these works, the “good vs evil” stuff starts to seem more & more propagandistic. The “GI Joe vs Terrorist Groups” concept starts to catch in the throat.
The concepts of what an ‘evil’ villain is become more & more far-fetched, and the concepts of ‘hero’ expand more and more to finally include villains as potential heroes.
And then, right when you think you’ve seen it all, the “good guy” in the comic has become the “bad guy” from reality, and the bad guy in the comic is now the good guy.
Some examples of the switcheroo — Wolverine is a psychopath killer with berserk fury == good guy.
Iron Man is a rich playboy arms dealer who was responsible for arming the bad guys == good guy.
Magneto is a guy who believes in standing up for the rights of mutants no matter the cost == bad guy.
(Occasionally a good guy, depending on the comic.)
The Vision is an emotionless android created by an evil robot that wants to destroy the world == good guy.
Phoenix is a woman who possesses immense powers to create or destroy anything, and she has emotional issues == bad guy.
Professor X is a bald psychic that scouts the world for mutants, sends teams out to bring the kids to his secret private school, taking them from their families, putting children in weird costumes, and training them in strange ways. Occasionally Prof X will mind-wipe someone, put mental blocks in their brains, and give them brain trauma == good guy
The sexuality issue to me seems a subset of gender issues in comics. Most female heroes are ‘ultra-femme’ & scantily clad, while males are super-buff and frequently macho and hard-headed.
While the gay topic appears to now be getting addressed in some interesting ways, it really could be discussed in these terms — can a gay person be either ‘hero or villain’, can a straight person be the bad guy & the hero a gay person? What would that look like?
I definitely think the doorway opens a whole new level of discussion about gender roles, and so on.
Thanks for the article!
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