gays in comics
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.”
“One ‘defense’ for not making the effort to be inclusive is, ‘Aw, but man, I don’t want to have to think about this stuff, I just want to read/write stories.’ And, y’know what? We’re sympathetic to that. Thinking about it can be really taxing, confusing, and depressing. Imagine if you had to think about that stuff all the time. Perhaps due to being not white? Or not male? Or not straight?”
– Brian Clevinger, explaining why Atomic Robo is specifically designed to be as inclusive as possible, while still telling awesome stories
“No, because different characters require different things. This is similar to arguing that it’s unfair that Reed Richards is so smart–that works for his character, but wouldn’t work as well for, say, Ben Grimm. Different character. Also, and take this from somebody who was there as a reader and watched it happen, the marriage of Peter and MJ was absolutely as forced and sudden, probably more so. It’s just had the advantage of having been a status quo for so long that a lot of readers grew up with it and accepted it. We’ve never said that no characters should be married, the point is that Spider-Man, the most popular youth-based character in the entertainment world, probably shouldn’t be married.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a fan who asked, “Do you not think there’s hypocrisy in undoing the editorially mandated marriage of Peter and Mj and then doing something like the marriage of Storm and BP and Northstar and Kyle? The marriage of Peter and Mj felt far less forced or sudden.”
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald reports that the organizers of San Diego Comic Con are tightening up on badges with measures that include matching the name on the badge to the user’s ID to prevent counterfeiting and illegal resale. Amusingly, you don’t have to go too far down the comment thread to see someone blaming Twilight fans. [The Beat]
Legal | Canadian artist Craig Wilson didn’t make it to this weekend’s Phoenix Comicon because U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned him away, saying he needed a work permit to sell comics at his Artist Alley table. Not only that, Wilson was also thumb printed and his car was searched. He said the customs agents even sent a notice to the other border crossings in case he tried to enter the country somewhere else. “I’m paying my own table at the con, hotel, meals, drinks …” Wilson said. “I was going to inject close to $2000.00 dollars into the very economy I was supposedly threatening.” [boardguy]
Standing in stark contrast to One Million Moms’ new effort to convince Marvel and DC Comics to immediately abandon all plans involving gay characters, a motion has been introduced in Scottish Parliament to acknowledge the wedding Northstar and to declare that “same-sex marriage should not be restricted to the world of literature and fantasy.”
Lodged Thursday by Mary Fee, a Scottish Labour Party member representing West Scotland, the motion states: “That the Parliament welcomes the news that the Marvel comic, X-Men, will feature its first same-sex marriage, which will feature Northstar, believed to be the first openly gay comic superhero; understands that, in 1992, Marvel was the first comic publisher to reveal a gay superhero; notes that Northstar is not the first gay character to have had a same-sex marriage in the comic book world, and agrees that same-sex marriage should not be restricted to the world of literature and fantasy.” It’s supported by eight other Members of the Scottish Parliament.
One Million Moms, the conservative Christian initiative that launched an unsuccessful campaign in February urging Toys “R” Us to stop selling the issue of Life with Archie depicting the wedding of gay character Kevin Keller, has now turned its attention to Marvel and DC Comics.
A project of the nonprofit American Family Association, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, One Million Moms has sounded the alarm about this week’s twin announcements that DC will reintroduce one of its “major iconic” characters as gay, and that Marvel will wed Northstar to his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51.
“Children desire to be just like superheroes,” reads the missive on the One Million Moms website. “Children mimic superhero actions and even dress up in costumes to resemble these characters as much as possible. Can you imagine little boys saying, ‘I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?’ This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don’t but do want to indoctrate [sic] impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27).”