September 1, 2010
On stands today: Riverdale’s “hot new guy,” who’s gay. Yes, that Riverdale, home of Archie, Jughead, Betty, and now Kevin, who is really, really, not interested in Veronica. As comics fans first heard in the spring, “the most mainstream, Middle-American comic book” — which last made headlines with a good old-fashioned traditional marriage — has now officially gone the way of, well, actual communities with gay people in them. Win.
What’s extra-cool here, as Barbara Spindel reports in the Daily Beast, is how — how mellowly — the gayness is presented and framed. “After Kevin and Jughead enjoy some homosocial bonding at a hamburger-eating contest, Jughead warns the new kid that Veronica isn’t likely to stop pursuing him until he returns her flirtations. ‘It’s nothing against her. I’m gay,’ Kevin explains nonchalantly, showing how much more casual coming out has become since the X-Men superhero Northstar made headlines in 1992 with this clunky announcement: ‘For while I am not inclined to discuss my sexuality with people for whom it is none of their business — I am gay!’”
Also, Spindel notes, the fact that he’s gay does not become the plot. Instead, it gets absorbed right in as the basis of some true-to-Archie-world hijinks: “Far from being labored, Kevin’s coming out feels entirely relevant to a comic book about how teens relate. What’s more, Parent uses Kevin’s sexuality as an ingenious plot device that fits seamlessly within the well-worn Archie narrative. ‘Kevin is going to tell her that he’s gay, but Jughead tells him not to because he enjoys seeing Veronica making a fool of herself,’ [veteran Archie artist Dan Parent] explains. ‘Everyone knows he’s gay except Veronica. Betty doesn’t push it because she realizes if Veronica is chasing Kevin then she’s got the time for Archie.’”
Setting aside my only concern — Veronica’s gaydar clearly needs to go into the shop — what I also like here is the reminder of connection made between gayness and wholesomeness (if, indeed, wholesomeness is to be considered a worthy goal). Gay here (and in real life) does not (necessarily) equal subversive, alterna-, Adam Lambert, or “worse.” Why, the gays fit right in, see? That’s what always puzzled me, in a certain way, about the whole gay marriage thing. It’s like, “People. We scared you when we were flamboyant and counter culture. Now we’re trying to settle down, just like you, and you’re really freaked out?!”
Speaking of marriage — and perhaps the best news of all — Archie Comic Publications editor in chief Victor Gorelick noted to the Daily Beast that protest was much more vociferous when the news broke that Archie would marry Veronica. Perhaps we can look forward to seeing Riverdale celebrate the wedding of Kevin and, I don’t know, Steve?
January 6, 2010
From Vanity Fair (better late than never):
“Learning that Rashida Jones wrote a comic book is like finding out that the hot cheerleader at your high school is really into video games and heavy metal. It’s validation that maybe the things that you love don’t necessarily make you a social outcast. To borrow a phrase from Benjamin Franklin, it’s proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
May 20, 2009
Nope, not Kris vs. Adam — though there’s that. After 65 years, the most famous, and ageless, love triangle may finally be resolved. “The wholesome, red-headed teenager Archie Andrews will be popping the question to one of his childhood sweethearts,” reports wowowow.com (via the Archie Comics official blog), “but who will it be, Betty Cooper or Veronica Lodge?”
Well? Who do you think it should be? And what will the answer mean for “good”/”bad” girls everywhere?
March 18, 2009
An impressively dopey article on CNN.com alerts us to the news that Washington-based publisher Bluewater Productions has released a series of comic books featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“We really want to show strong, independent, female role models in comics,” said Darren Davis, Bluewater’s president, who didn’t explain how Palin got on that ticket, either. The first two issues in “Female Force,” already out, feature Clinton and Palin. Up next: Caroline Kennedy — huh? - and Michelle Obama. (Well, we know she’s got guns.)
“Comic fans approve of the idea,” note the not-so-ace reporters. To wit: “‘I think it just says, like, that women are important,’ one comic book fan told CNN.’” (Quoth our tipster, “Who’s doing this sourcing, Judy Miller?”)
And: “Another [!] added, ‘It shows that comics aren’t just about guys in tights beating each other up — it’s about information, it’s about understanding people a little better.” (“It’s about information”? This is a job for…The Quote Puncher-Upper!)
Plus: “We’re in a very politically-minded time right now,” said Richard Laermer, CEO of a public relations firm and author of several books on banalities marketing.
We “fans” well know that comics are by no means only about “guys in tights beating each other up” in the first place. But, dopey piece notwithstanding, Female Force’s fare could totally be good, you know, if it’s good. But honestly, I’m already impressed enough with [most of] these women in real life.
February 11, 2009
Via The Daily Beast:
When comic-book fans last saw Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, he was pushed from a speeding jet without his cape or face mask and was presumed to be dead. The Independent reports now on his replacement — Batwoman, a.k.a. Kathy Kane…[whose] debut marks a cultural landmark for the gay rights movement and is part of DC Comics’ concerted effort to introduce an ethnically and sexually diverse range of characters. “We’ve been waiting to unlock her. It’s long overdue,” said writer Greg Rucka. “Yes, she’s a lesbian. She’s also a redhead. It is an element of her character. It is not her character. If people are going to have problems with it, that’s their issue.”
Speaking of issues, Batwoman will be the subject of at least 12.
August 28, 2008
Before there was BG, there was supermuscleman Charles Atlas,* who helped the 97-pound weaklings of the world find love by bulking themselves up and punching bullies out. “Chumps” became “champs,” and then the ladies — well, “They obey your silent commands.”
Oh no wait,that part was the sea monkeys.
Of course, with your X-Ray Specs, you could see right through all this goofy advertising, but instead — much more fun — you could enjoy, via Boing Boing, this wee gallery of jaunty old comic book ads, which led me to all sorts of [more elaborate] others as well. See you at the ant farm!
* Please enjoy this bonus reading by FOBG Todd Levin!
July 20, 2008
According to Scientific American, yes, kind of, sort of, but it’d take a lot more than a celebrity trainer. Read the whole geek-jock Q&A — with the author of Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero — here.
(Update: more here.)