Tag Archives: For Better or for Worse

Today, for Spirit Day

a re-posting of “The  Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics” (originally posted September 13, 2010)

Last week, the seven most MISGUIDED attempts at Gay Characters in comics.  This week:  The Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics –   Because the glass is half full, and I know how to swirl it around.

Who am I to make such a list?  What are my credentials?
I’ve read more comics than you have – (Unless you’re Mark Waid, and then I’m sorry for being presumptuous, my superior master) –  And because I have a blog and you don’t.   I found this one on the street near my friend Kevin’s house, and now it’s mine , so no one can stop me.

THE SEVEN BEST GAY CHARACTERS IN COMICS.

7) WICCAN

(BILLY KAPLAN) – (and his boyfriend Hulkling (TED ALTMAN)

Can you guess which one’s called “Hulkling” and which one’s “Wiccan”?

Wiccan is part of a Mighty Marvel Royal Family.

Kissing cousin to damn near everyone.

He is (more or less) the son of mutant Wanda Maximov (the Scarlet Witch), making him the grandson of Magneto (X-Men bad guy), nephew to Quicksilver (X-Men/Avenger asshole), twin brother of SPEED (Young Avengers teen), and step-son (?) to the Silver Age Vision, who used to be the golden age Human Torch –  also Wiccan is first cousin to Luna, daughter or Crystal, who was the ex-girlfriend of the CURRENT Human Torch, which makes Billy Kaplan part of the extended families of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers – requiring every Marvel hero but Daredevil to let him crash on the couch for two days, unannounced.

And Wiccan’s boyfriend, Hulkling, is the son of Captain Mar-vell and a Skrull Princess named Analee.  So he’s an Avengers brat too.

Young Avengers Presents #3

It’s often said that there’s someone gay in every extended family in America (whether you know it or not) and Marvel finally acknowledged it with one of the main families of the Marvel U.

But what really lands BILLY on the list are these scenes from YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS  Issue #3…. Wiccan has spent the issue with his brother, trying to find his missing, presumed dead mom, the Scarlet Witch, and along the way, they’re told she’s not going to be found, and handed this piece of advice….

-and when he’s home later, with Hulkling, he realizes how wonderful THAT moment with his boyfriend is…

Notice, the gay boyfriend isn’t a temptation to deny, or a problem to solve, or a secret to hide from his family – the boyfriend is a magical blessing in Wiccan’s life.  There’s yer hopeful ending, right there, and it comes from someone in the family… the “Dick Cheney’s daughter” of the Marvel Universe, if I may use a metaphor bluntly and badly.

6)  BATWOMAN

-KATE KANE

Pretty. pretty…

After the first few Batwoman issues of Detective I found I liked the comic, but didn’t love the protagonist.  It was BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by J.H.Williams III, over an action -packed Greg Rucka plot about a weird Alice in Wonderland cult -all entertaining as hell — but I hadn’t had that “moment” where I was won over by Batwoman, (or Kate Kane), as a character in her own right.  There was much butt kicking and leaping, but ALL the bat-gang do that.


But then, we came to this scene in Detective 856, where Ms. Kane arrives at a charity function dressed in a formal tuxedo, rocking a post-goth, post-Patrick Nagel thing, and strutting like it was her palace.

Her confidence in facing down disapproving relatives and openly flirtatious police captains, won me over but good.
I love her body language, her dialog, that touch of arrogance, all while working clues to a super-crime in her head.  Dare I say it, it reminded me of Bruce Wayne – in a way that Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon never did – the way Kate just OWNED that room and the story.


So as of ‘Tec 856, Kate Kane had “it” for me.
As the next few issues followed, and we learned of Kate’s bizarre back story, her brutal family tragedy, her “honorable” discharge from the Army, and her wonderful, complex relationship with her father, this comic became the surprise hit of the year for me.  More of this, thanks!
And oh, yeah.  She’s gay.  Just part of the overall weave, my friends.

5) MARK SLACKMEYER

From Doonesbury.

Mark is one of the four founding characters of one of the five best comic strips of the 20th Century  (PogoCalvin and HobbesPeanuts and L’il Abnerare the other four) and DECADES into Mark’s story in the strip, he turns out to be gay.  It seemed a little forced when the idea first arrived, but I never should have doubted Mr. Garry Trudeau, Lord of the Doonesbury.  In fairly short order, Megaphone Mark, the ultra liberal student radical turned NPR radio host settles down with a man who is his opposite in nearly every way – a log cabin Republican, conservative money-pusher named Chase Talbot III (who is the embodiment of Mark’s much hated, ultra-conservative father) and they become a bickering married couple on the radio.  BRILLIANT comics, great satire and very real human comedy for anyone with a passing recognition of the Oedipal Complex or the tropes of 70s family sitcoms.

And yet, they’re in love.

Mark and Chase are separated now, but their time together was a high water mark in what is still the best comic strip running in  American papers.

4)  MIDNIGHTER

-(and his lovely husband, Apollo)
From the ultra right wing, ultra violent Wildstorm series, STORMWATCH, comes the most militant homosexual “super-hero” in history.
What’s not to LOVE about Midnighter?  He’s Gay Batman, for god’s sake.  PLUS he’s got a special instant super-healing power, and a murderous temper which makes him gay Wolverine-Batman.  Which is really gay Dark

Like this guy…only attracted to men, see?

Claw, and that’s the whole enchilada right there.  Gay Dark Claw. Dark Claw, only gay.  And his boyfriend is essentially gay Superman, only  named Apollo.  It makes me wish I was gay, so I could love Midnighter even more.

What started off as a Warren Ellis one-joke about a long believed super-hero subtext, became an actually interesting pair of characters over the next few years of Stormwatch, and then, AUTHORITY.   Midnighter and Apollo were a little more bloodthirsty than you expected, more fiercely loyal to each other than you expected, and more physically affectionate with each other than any other gay characters in comics were at the time, but they were written with wit and cleverness, even if the dialog tended towards sneering British ‘tude, And they were a genuine couple, in love and committed to each other, even adopting a child together.  (A reincarnation of a teammate, but let’s not go THERE).

They really do kiss a lot, these two…when they’re not slaughtering super-villains.

When MIDNIGHTER launched in his own monthly series, the first couple of story lines included one of the BEST time travel adventures ever, and some of the best done-in-one comic tales being published.
He’s Gay Dark Claw.  Does this need to be explained again?

3) LAWRENCE POIRIER

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

Coming out to your family or friends was a dangerous thing to do in 1993. Lynn Johnson, creator of FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, discovered it was a dangerous thing to do on the comics pages of your local newspaper.

When Michael Patterson’s life long friend Lawrence told Michael he was gay, Lynn Johnson received countless hate letters and death threats from around the world….just for showing the comic strip pages that a gay person simply existed.  Over one hundred newspapers in the United States dropped her very popular comic strip until the offendingly gay Lawrence was out of the spotlight … And the intolerance wasn’t just in the real world for this poor teen –  As his fictional story continued, Lawrence told his stepfather he’d met a college boy and fallen in love, and that bit of honesty got Lawrence thrown out of his house.

Now, in the middle of all that abuse and hatred, Lawrence does something remarkable:   He remains polite.  He rages very little, he tells Michael how much he appreciates his friend’s support, and quietly waits for the rest of the world to realize how badly they’re behaving towards him.  He makes this an epic story of dignity in the middle of intolerable behavior from damn near everyone else.  All from a small, slightly terrified 17 year old boy.

THAT’s a Super-hero in my book.

2)  TOLAND POLK

Stuck Rubber Baby
Toland Polk is a fictionalized character, very loosely based on the early life of writer/ artist  HOWARD CRUSE, one of comics’ more notably “out” underground cartoonists of the 70s and 80s.  The 1995 graphic novel STUCK RUBBER BABY is a dense narrative about Toland’s early adulthood, living in the American South in the 1960s, and slowly discovering that he’s slightly racist, and very gay, and that he can only learn to stop being ONE of those things.
One of the best novels I’ve ever read about growing up.  It won the Harveyand the Eisner for best Graphic Novel in 95, as well as a bunch of other best thing-on-Earth awards that year.  Stuck Rubber Baby, stands with Maus, Barefoot Gen or Contract with God, as a rare comic life story that NEVER leaves you.  By the time it’s over, Toland Polk is one of your favorite people.

1) ESPERANZA “HOPEY” GLASS.

LOVE AND ROCKETS.

Teen Hopey, mind you.

Ahh….Love and Rockets – the 80s comic book you could give your date, andshe would “get it”.  QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Fangirls started hanging around comic shops because of Jaime Hernandez’ “LOCAS” series in Love and Rockets, long before Sandman was a gleam in VERTIGO’s creepy eye.

Though it started as the sci-fi story of two giggling, pro-solar mechanics named Maggie and Hopey (and Maggie’s major crush, RAND RACE), the series, LOCAS, quickly became about two unemployed EX-pro-solar mechanics/ slackers who hang around the LA Hispanic 80s Punk Rock / Wrestling world, falling in and out of trouble (and love) while picking up an ASTOUNDINGLY complex and interesting supporting cast.
What holds the series together, is that EVERYBODY loves the adorable lead character, Maggie Chascarrillo —

Ray loves Maggie.  Speedy loved Maggie.  Penny loves Maggie.  Izzy loves Maggie, and the readers love Maggie, but MOST of all, HOPEY loves Maggie.

Hopey really, really loves her.  It makes Hopey’s jackboot-wearing street-cynic party-girl butch-punk lesbian heart melt every time she’s in a room with Mags, and Maggie loves Hopey right back, except Mags couldn’t give up men forever, even for Hopey….which is the basis for much of the drama in the first decade of their relationship.

We’ve all watched Hopey’s heart break a few times, and along the way, I think we all fell in love with the abrasive little bitch who couldn’t play the bass worth a damn.  She was annoyingly human, after all.

Jamie’s not mean to Hopey…she gets to kiss Mags every now and then.

The stunning artwork by author/artist  Jamie Hernandez didn’t hurt the reader’s enjoyment of the series either.

THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR MORE

I didn’t write about Anole, or Graymalkin, or any of the gay X-Men, because I confess I rarely read X-Men books (there’s simply too many), and I’m not familiar with their stories, sorry.  Krazy Kat was strongly considered, but Kat went from being male to female so regularly, that Ignatz may have been bisexual, instead of gay, without knowing it, and who needs that confusion?  There was simply no room for Bitchy Butch (Roberta Gregory’s wonderfully awful dyke character fromNaughty Bits), or Element Lad, orConstantine, or any from the legion of lesbian detectives, wonderful characters all.

-And finally…

Get yer mind out of the gutter right now, soldier!

… I never brought up Peppermint Patty and Marcie because they aren’t lesbians, all right?  Get over it people.  They both had a crush on “Chuck”, and ONLY Chuck, never each other… and you can’t tell a person’s orientation simply because of how they wear pants.  Marcie didn’t even LIKE softball.  Good GRIEF! Don’t be such a hater.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen:

Thank Canada! Thank Canada!

 

Don't make us put on our antler costumes and come down there.

 

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  We do it early, which proves (by the science of common sense) that we invented it, and gave Thanksgiving to the world as a gift.  The United States later introduced our introspective holiday into their calendar, retroactively attaching it to a big dinner that starving English settlers shared with local Indians a few years before the shooting started.  But it’s our holiday obviously:   It’s based on politeness. Don’t look it up or you’ll insult me.  It’s ours.

Besides Canada’s generosity in giving humanity a moment to reflect on their good fortune, I’ve created a list of the other things the people of the world SHOULD be thanking Canada for.

 

Thank you, Mr. Shatner.

 

And no, it’s not going to be about Bill Shatner, though obviously it could be.  It’s about the world of comic books, and that fact that it simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Canada, and that’s a fact.

So on behalf of the bacon-eating hockey players of this proud nation everywhere… Eskimos and fur trappers, and frozen Frenchmen…

…you’re WELCOME, comic fans.

 

THE TOP EIGHT REASONS COMIC FANS SHOULD THANK CANADA


 

8)  John Byrne


Normally these are top SEVEN lists, but John Byrne is so insistent that people include him in things, that I let him have his way, even though, technically, he’s a Brit.  Canada should be thanked because we educated the Byrne boy.  Took him in from that wretched England, and raised him up from the tender age of eight, until we let him go into the world in middle age.  Turned out he was the biggest thing in comics for most of the late 70s, and to politely thank us back, he made Canadian comic star, WOLVERINE, into the most popular comic book character for the last thirty years.

 

And made "Snikt" a household word, along with "beer".

 

7)  Hal Foster


His Tarzan comic strips were phenomenal, but Foster’s PRINCE VALIANT Sunday pages throughout the 40s and 50s are often considered the most beautiful illustrations ever done for the comics page.    Here, look…

 

That's just one panel.

 

Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Mark Shultz, Joe Kubert, Dave Sim and literally hundreds of other illustrators of the Golden and Silver ages cite Nova Scotia local boy Hal Foster as their primary influence.  Gee, you think Kirby might have borrowed the look of his “DEMON” from somewhere in panel three…?  Say “Thank you”, Jack.
6)  Our Trees.

 

Marvel Comics, slightly before they're collectable.

 

Every American comic book you’ve ever held in your hand started life as a Canadian tree.  You can forget that the printing industry of the North East has ALWAYS used our fine Quebec forests as their principal source of paper, as long as you remember that since the 80s, damn near every comic book published by every publisher, large or small, was printed at QUEBECOR PRINTING in…you guessed it, Quebec.  Thank the French-Canadian lumberjacks for this one.

 

Oh ho! Ze Comics...they all rely on Jacques to exist, mais non?

 

5)  Darywn Cooke


Besides being the only man who can collapse civilization by saying “sudden lesbian” in an online video, Darwyn Cooke is comics current “it boy”, with critical gushes and swooning fans following him from project to project.   His retro style has earned him every award the biz has to offer, and he’s done all this while being a dead ringer for Slam Bradley – an achievement in itself.  Without Darwyn, comics nowadays would be nothing more but hyperbolic close up details of forearm veins.  Thank the stars, he stems that tide.

 

That's a very patriotic American image there, Darwyn...

 

4)  Lynn Johnston.


FOR BETTER OF FOR WORSE is easily the best comic art ever given to us by a female creator, and for the whole time it was being published, Lynn drew it from her home a few hours north of Toronto.

This magnificent series (only recently finished up) aged along with its readers, and touched the lives of millions in a way that the comics hadn’t since the early days of the century.  Along with Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pogo, Li’l Abner, Krazy Kat, Popeye, Little Nemo, Prince Valiant and Calvin and Hobbes, FBOFW is one of the ten best comic strips ever produced.  If you know who Farley is, and the mere mention of his name doesn’t start to choke you up, you’re an inhuman monster.

 

The series finale from 2008

 


3)  Dave Sim

 

a rare photo of Dave with his mouth shut

 

The creation and the COMPLETION of the astounding run of CEREBUS THE AARDVARK is the No. #1 most inspiring story the world over for both indie cartoonists and people prone to spelling mistakes.

 

Yes, that's a typo. A thirty year typo...

 

Dave Sim proved that if you have an insanely long, mind-bogglingly intricate story that’s going to take you twenty seven years to tell…then BY GOD, it can be done, even if you have to do it yourself!!  CEREBUS is the longest running series ever written and drawn by the same guy – don’t even bring up the part about publishing it and promoting it himself (with the help of his temporary wife and temporary publisher Deni Loubert, of course, and his inker/background assistant GERHARD).  300 issues, 6000 pages, 12,000 loud mouth opinions in the letters pages.  When people say Sim wrote the book on self-publishing, he literally did.  Image Comics, wouldn’t exist without his ground-breaking influence, and apparently, neither would Babylon 5.

2)  Todd McFarlane

 

The '90s: they were his fault. But at least he has balls.

 

Speaking of Image Comics…  We must give thanks for our man of the Western Praries:  Todd McFarlane.  Without him, we wouldn’t have all those extra fidgety lines on all those drawings for the last twenty years.  Besides re-inventing Spider-Man’s face mask, Marvel’s sales figures and humanity’s basic anatomy, Todd re-invented the toy industry by adding so many bendy bits to action figures, that they are now too cool to remove from the box.

 

Don't you DARE play with this. It's not a TOY, it's a McFarlane Action Figure!

 

Because of the twin revolutions of Image Comics and McFarlane Toys, the fanboy universe would not be the same without him, and neither would the million dollar home-run-collectible baseball market, as I think Todd owns them all.  I think he part-owns the Edmonton Oilers too, but there’s no American who needs to thank him for that.

 

The Million Dollar Balls of Todd

 

1)  Joe Shuster

 

Shuster, hard at work cheating himself out of millions.

 

Ah, you knew I was going here.  Joe Shuster was the Canadian artist who co-created Superman to help out his American friend Jerry Seigel accomplish SOMETHING in his life.

 

He helped create this guy.

 

Canadians know this because we have the stamps, the “Heritage Minute”,  the street named after him in Toronto, and the cousin he left behind to create WAYNE AND SHUSTER.  (It’s absolutely true, they were blood relatives!)

 

You'll note the resemblance to Jor-El.

 

Superman is practically a Canadian citizen we hear about this so much.  Metropolis is based on Toronto.  The Daily Planet is based on Toronto’s

 

He was not born on this street, but it's in the right town, at least.

 

“Daily Star” newspaper, and the original editor “George Taylor” was named after a real Daily Star Editor, and former boss of former Star copy boy, Shuster.   I don’t  have to tell you that comics in America would have died out long ago without the fellows in the capes, and that the fellows in the capes are ALL a variation on the Man of Steel in one way or another.

So you’re welcome, world!  Thank Canada!

Honorable Mentions:

Stuart Immomen, Ian Boothby,  Dave Ross, Kaare Andrews, Win Mortimer, Ken Lashley, Chester Brown, Tom Fowler, Pia Guerra, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seth, Max Douglas, Richard Pace, Dale Keown, Bernie Mireault, Gabriel Morrissette, Yanick Paquette, Travis Charest, Diana Shutz,Tom Grummett, Howard Wong,  Steve McNiven, David Finch, Gene Day, Sam Agro, Kate Beaton, Richard Comely, Denis Rodier, Gibson Quarter, David J. Cutler, Clement Sauve, Steve Platt, George Freeman, Dean Motter, Ken Steacy, Adrian Alphona, Pat Davidson, Ramon Perez, Ho Che Anderson, Martin Pasko, Rand Holmes, Cam Stewart, Marcus To, Francis Manapul, Ryan Sohmer, Bob Smith, Mark Shainblum, Kent Burles,  Lar Desouza, J.  Bone, Kalman Adrasofszky…and K.T. Smith.

Just off the top of my head.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen:

 

Art by Joe Shuster, for adult publishers, shortly after he stopped drawing Superman.

 

THE SEVEN BEST GAY CHARACTERS IN COMICS.-

Last week, the seven most MISGUIDED attempts at Gay Characters in comics.  This week:  The Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics –   Because the glass is half full, and I know how to swirl it around.

Who am I to make such a list?  What are my credentials?
I’ve read more comics than you have – (Unless you’re Mark Waid, and then I’m sorry for being presumptuous, my superior master) –  And because I have a blog and you don’t.   I found this one on the street near my friend Kevin’s house, and now it’s mine , so no one can stop me.

THE SEVEN BEST GAY CHARACTERS IN COMICS.

7) Wiccan

(BILLY KAPLAN) – (and his boyfriend Hulkling (TED ALTMAN)

Can you guess which one's called "Hulkling" and which one's "Wiccan"?

Wiccan is part of a Mighty Marvel Royal Family.

Kissing cousin to damn near everyone.

He is (more or less) the son of mutant Wanda Maximov (the Scarlet Witch), making him the grandson of Magneto (X-Men bad guy), nephew to Quicksilver (X-Men/Avenger asshole), twin brother of SPEED (Young Avengers teen), and step-son (?) to the Silver Age Vision, who used to be the golden age Human Torch –  also Wiccan is first cousin to Luna, daughter or Crystal, who was the ex-girlfriend of the CURRENT Human Torch, which makes Billy Kaplan part of the extended families of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers – requiring every Marvel hero but Daredevil to let him crash on the couch for two days, unannounced.

And Wiccan’s boyfriend, Hulkling, is the son of Captain Mar-vell and a Skrull Princess named Analee.  So he’s an Avengers brat too.

Young Avengers Presents #3

It’s often said that there’s someone gay in every extended family in America (whether you know it or not) and Marvel finally acknowledged it with one of the main families of the Marvel U.

But what really lands BILLY on the list are these scenes from YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS  Issue #3…. Wiccan has spent the issue with his brother, trying to find his missing, presumed dead mom, the Scarlet Witch, and along the way, they’re told she’s not going to be found, and handed this piece of advice….

-and when he’s home later, with Hulkling, he realizes how wonderful THAT moment with his boyfriend is…

Notice, the gay boyfriend isn’t a temptation to deny, or a problem to solve, or a secret to hide from his family – the boyfriend is a magical blessing in Wiccan’s life.  There’s yer hopeful ending, right there, and it comes from someone in the family… the “Dick Cheney’s daughter” of the Marvel Universe, if I may use a metaphor bluntly and badly.

6)  Batwoman

-KATE KANE

Pretty. pretty...

After the first few Batwoman issues of Detective I found I liked the comic, but didn’t love the protagonist.  It was BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by J.H. Williams III, over an action -packed Greg Rucka plot about a weird Alice in Wonderland cult -all entertaining as hell — but I hadn’t had that “moment” where I was won over by Batwoman, (or Kate Kane), as a character in her own right.  There was much butt kicking and leaping, but ALL the bat-gang do that.


But then, we came to this scene in Detective 856, where Ms. Kane arrives at a charity function dressed in a formal tuxedo, rocking a post-goth, post-Patrick Nagel thing, and strutting like it was her palace.

Her confidence in facing down disapproving relatives and openly flirtatious police captains, won me over but good.
I love her body language, her dialog, that touch of arrogance, all while working clues to a super-crime in her head.  Dare I say it, it reminded me of Bruce Wayne – in a way that Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon never did – the way Kate just OWNED that room and the story.


So as of ‘Tec 856, Kate Kane had “it” for me.
As the next few issues followed, and we learned of Kate’s bizarre back story, her brutal family tragedy, her “honorable” discharge from the Army, and her wonderful, complex relationship with her father, this comic became the surprise hit of the year for me.  More of this, thanks!
And oh, yeah.  She’s gay.  Just part of the overall weave, my friends.

5) Mark Slackmeyer

From Doonesbury.

Mark is one of the four founding characters of one of the five best comic strips of the 20th Century  (Pogo, Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and L’il Abner are the other four) and DECADES into Mark’s story in the strip, he turns out to be gay.  It seemed a little forced when the idea first arrived, but I never should have doubted Mr. Garry Trudeau, Lord of the Doonesbury.  In fairly short order, Megaphone Mark, the ultra liberal student radical turned NPR radio host settles down with a man who is his opposite in nearly every way – a log cabin Republican, conservative money-pusher named Chase Talbot III (who is the embodiment of Mark’s much hated, ultra-conservative father) and they become a bickering married couple on the radio.  BRILLIANT comics, great satire and very real human comedy for anyone with a passing recognition of the Oedipal Complex or the tropes of 70s family sitcoms.

And yet, they're in love.

Mark and Chase are separated now, but their time together was a high water mark in what is still the best comic strip running in  American papers.

4)  Midnighter

-(and his lovely husband, Apollo)
From the ultra right wing, ultra violent Wildstorm series, STORMWATCH, comes the most militant homosexual “super-hero” in history.
What’s not to LOVE about Midnighter?  He’s Gay Batman, for god’s sake.  PLUS he’s got a special instant super-healing power, and a murderous temper which makes him gay Wolverine-Batman.  Which is really gay Dark

Like this guy...only attracted to men, see?

Claw, and that’s the whole enchilada right there.  Gay Dark Claw. Dark Claw, only gay.  And his boyfriend is essentially gay Superman, only  named Apollo.  It makes me wish I was gay, so I could love Midnighter even more.

What started off as a Warren Ellis one-joke about a long believed super-hero subtext, became an actually interesting pair of characters over the next few years of Stormwatch, and then, AUTHORITY.   Midnighter and Apollo were a little more bloodthirsty than you expected, more fiercely loyal to each other than you expected, and more physically affectionate with each other than any other gay characters in comics were at the time, but they were written with wit and cleverness, even if the dialog tended towards sneering British ‘tude, And they were a genuine couple, in love and committed to each other, even adopting a child together.  (A reincarnation of a teammate, but let’s not go THERE).

They really do kiss a lot, these two...when they're not slaughtering super-villains.

When MIDNIGHTER launched in his own monthly series, the first couple of story lines included one of the BEST time travel adventures ever, and some of the best done-in-one comic tales being published.
He’s Gay Dark Claw.  Does this need to be explained again?

3) Lawrence Poirier

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

Coming out to your family or friends was a dangerous thing to do in 1993.  Lynn Johnson, creator of FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, discovered it was a dangerous thing to do on the comics pages of your local newspaper.

When Michael Patterson’s life long friend Lawrence told Michael he was gay, Lynn Johnson received countless hate letters and death threats from around the world….just for showing the comic strip pages that a gay person simply existed.  Over one hundred newspapers in the United States dropped her very popular comic strip until the offendingly gay Lawrence was out of the spotlight … And the intolerance wasn’t just in the real world for this poor teen –  As his fictional story continued, Lawrence told his stepfather he’d met a college boy and fallen in love, and that bit of honesty got Lawrence thrown out of his house.

Now, in the middle of all that abuse and hatred, Lawrence does something remarkable:   He remains polite.  He rages very little, he tells Michael how much he appreciates his friend’s support, and quietly waits for the rest of the world to realize how badly they’re behaving towards him.  He makes this an epic story of dignity in the middle of intolerable behavior from damn near everyone else.  All from a small, slightly terrified 17 year old boy.

THAT’s a Super-hero in my book.

2)  Toland Polk

Stuck Rubber Baby
Toland Polk is a fictionalized character, very loosely based on the early life of writer/ artist  HOWARD CRUSE, one of comics’ more notably “out” underground cartoonists of the 70s and 80s.  The 1995 graphic novel STUCK RUBBER BABY is a dense narrative about Toland’s early adulthood, living in the American South in the 1960s, and slowly discovering that he’s slightly racist, and very gay, and that he can only learn to stop being ONE of those things.
One of the best novels I’ve ever read about growing up.  It won the Harvey and the Eisner for best Graphic Novel in 95, as well as a bunch of other best thing-on-Earth awards that year.  Stuck Rubber Baby, stands with Maus, Barefoot Gen or Contract with God, as a rare comic life story that NEVER leaves you.  By the time it’s over, Toland Polk is one of your favorite people.

1) Esperanza “Hopey” Glass.

LOVE AND ROCKETS.

Teen Hopey, mind you.

Ahh….Love and Rockets – the 80s comic book you could give your date, and she would “get it”.  QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Fangirls started hanging around comic shops because of Jaime Hernandez’ “LOCAS” series in Love and Rockets, long before Sandman was a gleam in VERTIGO’s creepy eye.

Though it started as the sci-fi story of two giggling, pro-solar mechanics named Maggie and Hopey (and Maggie’s major crush, RAND RACE), the series, LOCAS, quickly became about two unemployed EX-pro-solar mechanics/ slackers who hang around the LA Hispanic 80s Punk Rock / Wrestling world, falling in and out of trouble (and love) while picking up an ASTOUNDINGLY complex and interesting supporting cast.
What holds the series together, is that EVERYBODY loves the adorable lead character, Maggie Chascarrillo —

Ray loves Maggie.  Speedy loved Maggie.  Penny loves Maggie.  Izzy loves Maggie, and the readers love Maggie, but MOST of all, HOPEY loves Maggie.

Hopey really, really loves her.  It makes Hopey’s jackboot-wearing street-cynic party-girl butch-punk lesbian heart melt every time she’s in a room with Mags, and Maggie loves Hopey right back, except Mags couldn’t give up men forever, even for Hopey….which is the basis for much of the drama in the first decade of their relationship.

We’ve all watched Hopey’s heart break a few times, and along the way, I think we all fell in love with the abrasive little bitch who couldn’t play the bass worth a damn.  She was annoyingly human, after all.

Jamie's not mean to Hopey...she gets to kiss Mags every now and then.

The stunning artwork by author/artist  Jamie Hernandez didn’t hurt the reader’s enjoyment of the series either.

THERE WAS NO ROOM for MORE

I didn’t write about Anole, or Graymalkin, or any of the gay X-Men, because I confess I rarely read X-Men books (there’s simply too many), and I’m not familiar with their stories, sorry.  Krazy Kat was strongly considered, but Kat went from being male to female so regularly, that Ignatz may have been bisexual, instead of gay, without knowing it, and who needs that confusion?  There was simply no room for Bitchy Butch (Roberta Gregory’s wonderfully awful dyke character from Naughty Bits), or Element Lad, or Constantine, or any from the legion of lesbian detectives, wonderful characters all.

-And finally…

Get yer mind out of the gutter right now, soldier!

… I never brought up Peppermint Patty and Marcie because they aren’t lesbians, all right?  Get over it people.  They both had a crush on “Chuck”, and ONLY Chuck, never each other… and you can’t tell a person’s orientation simply because of how they wear pants.  Marcie didn’t even LIKE softball.  Good GRIEF! Don’t be such a hater.

TY THE GUY OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen: