gays in comics
Comic-Con International organizers have released the programming schedule for Thursday, July 12, the first full day of the San Diego convention. It’s a day that includes the final Twilight presentation — it’s the first event in Hall H, so no squatters! — and plenty of comics panels.
The programming include panels from IDW Publishing, Image, Bongo Comics, Marvel, DC Comics and Viz Media, a Malibu Comics retrospective, a conversation with The Walking Dead creators Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, spotlights on Becky Cloonan, Karl Kerschl, Geof Darrow and Bill Amend, and a look at the depictions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters in comics.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.
Publishing | Don MacPherson rails against the current numbering and renumbering practices by Marvel and DC Comics: “I realize other publishers have adopted irregular numbering schemes as well, but DC and Marvel are the ones driving things in that direction. Constant relaunches with new first issues, renumbering those relaunches to exploit a big-number milestone such as a 500th issue, half issues, zero issues, issues with decimal points, Greek letters … it’s exhausting and irritating, and I’m certain it’s frustrating for people preparing price guides and collection databases. Next I’m guessing there will be a series numbered in an alien math rooted in a fictional Kryptonian base-14 numerical system.” [Eye on Comics]
Digital comics | David Brothers articulates what the problem is with DRM: “What I realized is that DRM has a lot of benefits for the publisher, but next to none for the consumer. Blizzard can track exactly who plays Diablo III and when, which is valuable for gathering demographic data, off the top of my head. ComiXology can tell publishers exactly what contexts their comics will appear in and on what devices. DRM is about control, basically, rather than being a value-add. It’s a limiting service, rather than one focused on expansion, and the people most affected by it are consumers who actually want to consume this stuff.” And it does nothing to stop piracy, either. [4thletter!]
Taking a cue from One Million Moms, the president of the National Organization for Marriage has responded to this week’s Astonishing X-Men #51 with a fundraising message voicing concerns about “the sanctity of a comic book gay wedding.”
Brian S. Brown, whose five-year-old nonprofit group is dedicated to fighting same-sex marriage, is troubled not just by the Marvel comic depicting the wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu but by the real-life ceremony it inspired at Midtown Comics in New York City. However, Brown, whose job is to help ensure state legislatures don’t pass marriage-equality laws — or if they do, that they’re overturned by ballot measures — isn’t bothered by the wedding of two men, either fictional or real. Heck, he even wishes Midtown couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker well, offering a not-at-all-condescending “bless him” to the former.
So it’s not that; oh, no. It’s the crass commercialization of the whole thing.
“… Something is wrong when huge companies push gay marriage into children’s literature in order to make money. Something is wrong when a comic book store decides to host a wedding, again for commercial purposes,” Brown writes in a message that ends by thanking NOM supporters for their financial contributions. “And something is really wrong when a man proposes because, well, somebody else is going to help pay for the wedding and it might mean a cool trip to New York City. Somewhere there may be some foolish man and woman getting married in a comic book store. But nobody else is paying for it and nobody in the media is covering it. Are we really supposed to believe in the ‘sanctity’ of gay comic book weddings?”
Star Trek alum, and gay-rights activist, George Takei is set to guest star early next year in Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller #6.
According to BuzzFeed, cartoonist Dan Parent met the actor at a comic convention, where he pitched him the idea of the cameo so Kevin, Riverdale’s first gay resident, could meet his hero. Takei was thrilled.
Although Archie Comics has traditionally opted for cameos by parodies of celebrities over actual celebrities, the publisher brought President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Riverdale in 2010. (Another notable, and downright odd, exception was minor ’80s child actor Glenn Scarpelli — son of Archie cartoonist Henry Scarpelli — who appeared in a handful of shorts, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Brooke Shields, Boy George, Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen. Seriously.)
Takei, who’s best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek series and in six movies, revealed he’s gay in a 2005 magazine interview. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman in 2008, and has been vocal on issues of marriage equality, homophobia and bullying.
Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]
Graphic novels | The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and the American Library Association will launch the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries at the ALA summer conference, held June 21-26 in Anaheim, California. Three libraries each year will be selected to receive all the books nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, as well as a $2,000 voucher to buy additional graphic novels and a $1,000 stipend to hold comics-related or author events. Libraries to register to win at the ALA conference; winners will be announced June 24. [Publishers Weekly]
Graphic novels | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald look at the graphic novel presence at last week’s BookExpo America. [Publishers Weekly]
Since moving to Riverdale nearly two years ago, Kevin Keller has established himself as the town’s first gay resident, gotten married (in the alternate-future Life With Archie, at least) and even beaten back the forces of One Million Moms. But in Kevin Keller #5, which goes on sale Wednesday, he faces a homophobic reaction from one of Cheryl Blossom’s Pembrooke Academy classmates.
Comic Book Resources has an exclusive preview for the issue, by Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski, which finds Kevin enjoying his first summer as a lifeguard on Riverdale Beach — until he meets up with Cheryl and her snobby, trouble-making friends. One in particular, the goateed Sloan, takes issue with Kevin’s sexual orientation, referring to him as “twinkle-toes” — it is Riverdale, after all — and facetiously offering to kiss his hand.
However, apparently not all of the Pembrooke gang has a problem with Kevin: The solicitation text teases that, “to make matters more complicated, a guy across enemy lines has eyes for Kevin … a surefire way to add drama to the whole mix!” Maybe it’s Sloan; he does seem to be overcompensating for something.
Check out the entire exchange below, and read the full preview at CBR.
Publishing | May was a huge month for comics sales in the direct market, and John Jackson Miller quantifies just how huge: It was the biggest month for dollar sales in the “Diamond Exclusive Era” (i.e. since 2003): “Diamond’s Top 300 comics had orders totaling $25.72 million, an increase of 44% over last May and the highest total since Diamond became the sole distributor in 1997. It beats the total of $25.37 million set in December 2008.” [The Comics Chronicles]
Comics | Art Spiegelman is contributing a prescient New Yorker cover from 2001 to the Occupy Comics anthology; other creators who are contributing work include Alan Moore, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dean Haspiel. [Underwire]
History | Joe Sergi takes a look at the comics burnings of 1948, a series of disturbing events in which children, no doubt goaded on by well-meaning adults, collected comics door to door and then burned them in a public bonfire. [CBLDF]
My parents were born in 1942, four years too early to be baby boomers. It also means they were just the wrong age to be exposed heavily to either the Golden or the Silver age of superhero comics. By the time they would have started to read, the Golden Age was half over; and when the Silver Age started in 1956, they were too old to be interested. I confirmed this with my dad, who has vague recollections of the original superheroes, but whose comic collection included more Archies and Little Lulus. (Had I known how much 21st-century hipster cred this would have given me, I’d have pressed him harder about those ….)
Still, these days they can’t get away from the Spandex set. When Conan O’Brien asserted (rightfully) that the Hulk had been in the Fantastic Four, Dad emailed me for confirmation. This itself was a big step up for Dad, who at one point several years ago thought Batman was in the FF. (In fact, I don’t think my folks have seen either of the Christopher Nolan movies, although they did watch a revival of the 1940s serial at the local art-house theater. Dad especially didn’t have any interest in the Schumacher movies, because the characters just “looked like toys.”) Last year, after the Green Lantern movie had been playing for a while, Dad thought he remembered seeing it — but actually, he and Mom had enjoyed Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet. Their nerd knowledge (what there is of it) is more likely to include Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, although lately they’re into Downton Abbey.
Regardless, when I think about the impact of outing Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, I tend to gauge it in terms of my dad. He may not be the best representative of the generation that grew up with the Justice Society, but among people I know he was in the best position to become a fan, and for whatever reason it just didn’t stick. Therefore, when I mentioned the revelation of Alan’s sexuality to Dad over the weekend, it really didn’t register one way or another.
Nearly lost amid all the media attention over the upcoming wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51, and the response by One Million Moms, is the revelation that the event was originally planned for another Marvel series — albeit one canceled almost five months ago.
Responding on his message board to news of the impending nuptials, former Alpha Flight artist Dale Eaglesham wrote, “This drives me absolutely crazy: Greg [Pak], Fred [Van Lente] and I do all the work of bringing the series back and they cancel it on us. Why didn’t they let US do the wedding ‘event’ which is clearly garnering attention, to stimulate readership [and] perhaps keep Alpha Flight going? This pisses me off. Oh no, let the ‘X’ books do it, as if they don’t get enough attention. Sigh. … This wedding was in the works on AF.”
Marvel has not yet responded to Robot 6′s request for comment.
Conventions | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mothballed plans for a giant convention center in Queens, leaving the unlovely, unloved, but well-situated Javits Center as the home of New York Comic-Con for the near future. [The New York Times, via The Beat]
Publishing | Alex Klein sees the “outing” of Green Lantern Alan Scott as a desperate move to boost sales by a publisher whose market share is dropping: “Switching up sexual orientation is a cunning way of compensating for flagging sales and aging characters. In the meantime, the industry is rebalancing: toward independent publishers, author ownership, and cross-platform digital tie-ins. As small studios sap talent from the giant conglomerates, comics are changing—and there’s a lot of money to be made in the process—just not in the comics themselves.” And he talks to The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Image publisher Eric Stephenson about what they can do that the Big Two can’t. [The Daily Beast]
Following the temporary retreat from Facebook by the anti-gay One Million Moms, a pro-gay group has sprung up on the social-media site hoping to capitalize on its absence.
Called, yes, One Million Moms, the group describes itself as “One Million Moms and friends of moms who support LGBT rights. Let’s put a positive spin to the group name One Million Moms by supporting equal rights to people of all orientations, creeds, genders and colors.” To further tweak the other One Million Moms, the new Facebook page flies the banner of the Human Rights Campaign and uses an image from the current JC Penney Father’s Day ad that has so enraged the other organization.
The new OMM explains that, “Using a ‘Risk’ metric, any time a territory like this is contested, it weakens the prior occupier’s footing and destabilizes their hold on that particular region of Cyberspace. Fundamentalist mothers looking for the original page will be confused, join the wrong thing, or not join at all; it muddies the message and strengthens the position of the new occupiers. This new page might not garner all that many followers initially, but its presence WILL deny the previous owners their beachhead and create a blockade to one of their most persuasive channels.”
In another setback to One Million Moms, the conservative Christian campaign has retreated from Facebook after a post about DC Comics’ reintroduction of Green Lantern Alan Scott as gay was inundated by comments largely supportive of the publisher’s decision.
The New Civil Rights Movement reports that moments after issuing a “warning” Friday about DC’s official announcement (see below), the page’s administrator began deleting positive comments before apparently giving up and removing the post entirely. Shortly afterward, the One Million Moms page disappeared from Facebook, certainly the initiative’s most valuable social media platform. The abrupt exodus was followed by a tweet announcing, unconvincingly, to Facebook users that, “OMM will be offline most of next week for Vacation Bible School!”
Had anyone suggested a year ago — heck, a month ago — that not only “Green Lantern” but also “Alan Scott” would be U.S. trending topics on Twitter, they’d likely have been soundly mocked. But on the day that DC Comics launched its full-on media assault officially announcing that the 72-year-old superhero will be reintroduced in Earth 2 #2 as the gay-billionaire leader of the Justice Society, “Green Lantern” and “Alan Scott” are on Twitter, sandwiched between “National Donut Day” and “CNBC.”
Granted, “Hal Jordan” is now trending worldwide, with many commenters trying to sort out just which Green Lantern everyone is talking about. One person tweeted, “I’m imagining Hal Jordan spending all day saying ‘No, not me, the other one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Although it’s clear to most fans of superhero comics that the character in question is the Golden Age Green Lantern — the only Green Lantern on Earth 2 — the finer points of continuity and parallel universes seem to be lost on the general public. (Right about now a DC publicity person is probably struggling to give an ABC News correspondent a crash course in DC Comics history, the New 52 and the Green Lantern Corps, frustrating both of them.)
Whether all of the publicity and social-media interest will result in rapid sellouts for Earth 2 #2 obviously won’t be known until next week, but it’s probably safe to presume DC will start the presses rolling on a second printing any moment now.
DC Comics rolled out the official announcement this morning that, yes, Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott is the “major iconic” character that will be reintroduced as gay, but Earth 2 writer James Robinson has already made clear that he won’t be alone.
“There is another character down the line, but that character won’t be appearing for some time, so it’s probably a bit too early to talk about that,” he told the gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate, “but this book will definitely have a diverse cast. Alan Scott won’t be the only gay character in Earth 2, I promise you that.”
“I feel if you’re going to have a team, you need to have realistic diversity,” Robinson said, explaining his rationale for including a gay member on the Justice Society. “After all, I have gay friends and straight friends and we’re all mixed together. It stands to reason, just based on the population of the world, at least one member of the team is going to be gay.”