Archive for the “gay issues” Category

Pal Andrew sent some scans of a 1961 Charlton magazine called Hush Hush which featured a…breathless expose on physique magazines.
Here’s a couple of excerpts…

And for a contrasting view, here’s Ed Fury:

Comments 5 Comments »

World Apart, 1986, Camilla Decarnin, Eric Garber and Lyd Paleo, eds.
Not a bad selection of material (Delany, Tiptree, Varley, Russ) and it almost entirely avoids the “not really gay because aliens” issue.

Comments 1 Comment »

The Power Within is an emotionally affecting anti-bullying comic published by Northwest Press and created by Charles “Zan” Christensen and Mark Brill. I had read Christensen and Brill’s previous collaboration, The Mark of Aeacus, and enjoyed it, but Power Within is a very different and far more resonant book.

It’s a didactic story, about a gay teenager dealing with bullying peers and adults indifferent to his situation, who retreats into superheroic fantasies to cope with his problems. The story exists strongly within the shadow of the recent media attention given to the high suicide rate in gay teens and the “It Gets Better” project, but successfully avoids any hints of maudlin emotion or preachiness. Instead the story feels very honest and is genuinely affecting. Christensen’s script deserves credit here, but so does Brill’s art, which has an approachable, cartoony feel that still allows for very expressive characters. There are also a number of short stories by guest creators rounding out the package and expanding upon the central theme, and while none are as successful as the central story they are all worthwhile pieces in and of themselves.

The Power Within is available from Diamond, with order code: #JUL111189 and Northwest Press has a website devoted to the book with material aimed at comics retailers and information on how youth groups and educators can receive copies.

Comments 3 Comments »

So, think back to Cry For Justice, if you can bear to. Amongst the many things that, frankly, were extremely lousy about that comic, was the rather distasteful death of B-Lister Tasmanian Devil. Now, as one of the very; few gay characters in comics, I do have a soft spot for Tasmanian Devil. But, he’s a B-Lister, and a Global Guardian to boot, which means he primarily exists to be mind-controlled by villains and be in the first wave of heroes to be taken out by whatever big new threat we’re supposed to be impressed by.

But, still…even in a comic industry where graphic violence and death has become passe, killing off one of the very few; gay characters, and in a cavalier, sick-joke sort of way…pretty damn lame. It’s the sort of tone-deafness about depicting and characterizing gay characters I’ve come to expect from most writers at Marvel and DC in really blatant form. And then this month, DC published the Starman/Congorilla one-shot, by Jame “Cry For Justice” Robinson and Brett Booth, and this happened:

The Tasmanian Devil is brought back to life in an extremely silly and comic-booky way, which, actually, is totally in keeping with his prior characterization. Overall I’m pleased, but one bit sticks in my craw, from this interview with Robinson about the comic:

I always intended for that to be the case, that Starman would eventually have Tasmanian Devil as his boyfriend. Congorilla finding his friend was going to be sub-plot that I was going to use, and tie it in with the apparent murder of Tasmanian Devil. I had to put it off for a while, but I found a way to fold it into the Omega storyline.

And I had always planed that it would lead toward Starman finding love with Tasmanian Devil. They’re two of the main gay characters of DC Universe. So I wanted to bring them together.

I’ve no reason not to take Robinson at his word. But killing a character off, off-panel, and having a villain make a joke of it, then waiting a year to bring the character back and get him together with another character…this doesn’t sound to me like a well-conceived plan for a comic-book romance. Especially when Starman’s involvement in Cry For Justice was motivated entirely by the death of his previous boyfriend. The implication that gay relationships are built on tragedy and death is an uncomfortable one.

Still, Robinson does do a very good job of having a gay man talk about his sexuality in a realistic way (by comic book standards) and banter and joke about it in a way that doesn’t fall completely flat:

That’s a promising sign at least.

Comments 6 Comments »

So, after a long hiatus from buying any comics from Archie, I decided to take a look at the introduction of Kevin Keller, Riverdale’s first openly gay character. News of the characters introduction got quite a bit of attention back in late April, including the expected “think of the children” nonsense you usually see on the internet.

The story and art is by Dan Parent, one of the better writers and artists working at Archie these days, with inks by Rich Koslowski. It’s stylized, cartoony work that adheres to the Archie house style without being a slavish recreation of it, leaving some room for personal style. I haven’t been the target audience for an Archie comic in quite some time, so honestly, I was most surprised to open up the book and see slick paper and full-bleed artwork. It’s good work, but it took some getting used to, as subconsciously I pretty much expect an Archie comic to look like Dan DeCarlo drew it.

The story is fairly typical of Archie comedy, with Jughead deciding to prank Veronica for slighting him. Only the form the prank takes is Jughead manipulating events so that Veronica spends her time attempting to attract Kevin’s interest, which is never going to happen because Jughead knows that Kevin is gay. After twenty pages of misunderstandings amongst the cast, Veronica finally learns the truth and those who need to get a comeuppance receive theirs.

My primary curiosity about this issue was how a company perceived as so archly conservative as Archie was going to handle introducing a gay character. I had no real concern over the portrayal being offensive; the only thing that would have meant more controversy for the publisher than introducing a gay character would be introducing an offensive portrayal of a gay character. Kevin is a cute, smart boy who likes comics and can go stomach-to-stomach with Jughead in an eating competition. In other words, he’s just rounded enough to hang a story hook on to him, but bland enough to avoid controversy. I generally rankle a bit at bland, inoffensive gay characters in movies and television shows who only exist to play lip-service to diversity but are completely neutered in order to avoid making anti-gay audience members uncomfortable. But this is a comic whose primary audience is preteen girls. Even a fairly bland gay character is pretty ground-breaking, and that Parent even managed to go beyond that and make Kevin sort of appealing is praiseworthy. I’ll admit, Parent draws him a fairly snarky smirk that would be meltingly hot if it was on a real person.

What I’m especially glad to see is that my one, big fear about the way the set-up for the issue was introduced was resolved in an appropriate manner. The premise, that Jughead is using the “secret” of Kevin’s sexuality to play a prank, has the potential to be offensive if mishandled. It makes homosexuality a bit of a punchline, not an aspect of Kevin’s character. Instead, once the truth is revealed, Jughead is scolded by Kevin, and quite rightly, for using him to take advantage of Veronica in an attempt to make her look foolish. The end result is to actually drive Kevin away from Jughead and towards Veronica, ironically the opposite of Jughead’s intent.

Do I expect Kevin to stick around? It would be nice. As I said, he’s an appealing character, and is already slated to make a return appearance. But the last character to be introduced into the Archie universe and demonstrate any staying power was Cheryl Blossom, and even she took a ten year hiatus. The odds are stacked against him, but he does bring something to the Riverdale dynamic that no other character does, so even if he only survives as, inexplicably, the only gay teenager in the Archie comics world, that’s not so bad.

Also, for no good reason, this panel cracks me up:

Comments 9 Comments »

© 2012 Dorian Wright Some Images © Their Respective Copyright Holders