homosexuality in comics

07 · 07 · 09

By @katiedoyle

If you geek girls aren’t familiar with Topless Robot (@ToplessRobot), I highly recommend it.  I check the website every day for geek news and a side of bitter hatred or childlike glee depending on the subject. Last week, Topless Robot posted an article about a homosexual relationship sprouting in a mainstream comic.  The result was an intelligent conversation about the gay characters in said comic.


That post made me think about an event in my life that related to gay comic characters, and I left the following comment on the site:

“That’s great! The first and only time I took my brother to the comic store, he wanted to buy some $5 graphic novels. I told him to go for it and he combed the boxes and picked a copy of Bone he hadn’t read and another book I’d never heard of. I combed it for nudity and the like and it was fine. He’s in the car reading it and he starts crying. Because he got a book written by and with lesbians. And I started crying and wouldn’t talk to about it with him because I was so upset. He spent the whole way home saying how much he hated lesbians and how he wanted to burn the book. In the end, I bought the book off of him for 10 dollars. 5 more than he paid. And I keep it on my special bookshelf where I only keep books I truly love.

For his birthday this year, I got him the first trade of Runaways. The character isn’t revealed as gay until later on in the series, and I’m hoping that by the time I buy him that book, he has become too involved with character and story to care about whether or not a character is gay or straight.”

So that’s where I am with this issue.

The book he bought in the comic shop was called “Jane’s World” and though it has been on my shelf for almost a year I still haven’t read it.

The post and the comments on it made me think about comics with gay characters and I was hard pressed to think of any gay relationships I’d read in non-indie comics.

I suppose I understand why. Many of the characters in mainstream comics are very old.  When they were established, the Comics Code Authority still, literally, put their stamp of wholesome approval on the books and homosexuality was unacceptable.  It took a long time for Marvel and DC to get out from the CCA’s thumb and even when they did, homosexuality was a touchy issue in books targeted at children.

The way I see it, it’s still touchy issue today.  As is the continuity of well known characters, previously known as straight, coming out of the closet. Selling anything is hard, but especially print media business.  It’d be nice if DC and Marvel could try developing some books based on gay characters, but who would buy them? They already have their big titles they know people will buy and branching out isn’t something they can do very well right now.

I’m willing to be patient with comics, though. Comics are very creatively advanced and always have been. They are an elite medium with artists and writers willing to push the envelope and an audience willing and waiting for whatever they throw at us.


  1. I must say I do enjoy this blog. I myself am a lesbian and have always wished that there were more mainstream characters that were gay, not made fun of as gay. Im not sure if marvel and dc will jump onto the gay bandwagon or not but for now ill read my mainstream and comics done by locals in lgbt commune. And kudos for teaching your brother diversity and acceptance. I mean just cause it has lesbians its no difrent than reading a comic with blacks, asians or native americans. Thanks for addressing this thought.

  2. I loved this article, too. It’s really ironic the reach and influence that our comic idols have.

    A lot of people do NOT know how instrumental Paige Braddock herself was in helping me get the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant award this past March 2009.
    She was in fact one of the judges. I was told she was the most enthusiastic judge about my work at the Prism finals.

    So Jane’s World will always have a special place in my heart, too. 🙂

    Pam Harrison

  3. I do believe Batwoman, and openly gay character, graces the pages of Detective Comics as the MAIN character now that Bruce is adios.


    I would say that’s a pretty mainstream title that many, many people are buying. Especially since it’s well written and drawn.

    Perhaps the problem now-a-days is not with the subject matter but rather the way it’s presented and written. Give Batwoman a go and see what you think.

  4. Well I watched a Yuri anime the other day I was embarrassed to find it was yuri but the story line was awesome and I loved it. So I have no issues with yuri or gay men.

    Yuri is lesbian by the way.

    Oh and the anime is called girl meets girl. It is really good and I think you would enjoy it as much as I did and do.

  5. I’m sorry about your brother, and I commend you on trying to get him to see GLBTQ folks as human beings.

    I’m glad that the Shatterstar/Rictor thing has happened, and that there’s as much talk as there is. I think it’s regrettable that Shatterstar creator Rob Liefeld is narrow-minded enough to say things like, “Can’t wait to undo this,” while claiming that he supposedly supports GLBTQ people. He seems to think it was contrived — however, the people who’ve been shipping the two characters for the last decade or more don’t seem to think so. Maybe he just missed it.

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