Three Cheers for Skrulls, Monkeys and Disembodied Brains in Love!
Excerpt from ¡Journalista! for January 11, 2007
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"P.T. Barnum, if he'd been speaking about comics, would've been wrong about the sucker rate. It's not by the minute, it's by the second, and the new suckers watch the old suckers coming out of other end of the woodchipper and still stick their hand in."
Sequence from Fun Home, one of the handful of non-superhero titles listed as eligible for GLAAD's 2006 LGBT in Comics award, ©2006 Alison Bechdel.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has completed the final list of elegibile comics titles for its 2006 LGBT in Comics award, and Loren Javier has it. As always, fanboy parochialism is the order of the day: The group in charge of organizing these things has always focused upon superhero comics, which in past years has resulted in giving the award to such hamfisted atrocities as Judd Winick's unintentionally hilarious "gaybashing" issue of Green Lantern. With the changing comics market outside the comics shops, this year's list looks even more ridiculous than usual. It's essentially broken into two categories — "Marvel/DC/Image/Dark Horse" and "everything else" — with the only four titles not published by Marvel or DC in the former list, a categorical distinction that reflects GLAAD's weird-ass belief that "visibility" is the unspoken-but-primary criteria for worthiness, despite the fact that 99% of what three of these four company publishes isn't actually visible anywhere outside of the comics shops frequented by one-fifth of 1% of the North-American population. It should go without saying that titles found in the latter list don't have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning.
But once you begin digging through the list of eligible titles, it gets even worse. Consider the following:
- Despite the considerable representation of gay and lesbian characters and themes in many American-published manga, the only Japanese comic in the former list is the DC-published From Eroica With Love. How many years do you think it'll be before GLAAD pulls collective heads out of collective asses and acknowledges that Viz and Tokyopop are at least as "mainstream" as the Sanctified Four — and very likely moreso?
- A direct quote: "The Authority is the latest series about the powerful super-hero team. Oddly, the team doesn't appear in issues #1" Please note that the gay presence in this series is confined to two characters in the "powerful super-hero team," who by GLAAD's acknowledgement didn't even appear in the comic's sole 2006 issue. That's visibility!
- The listing for The Outsiders spends an absurd amount of time obsessing over the fact that supervillians Brain and Monsieur Mallah — a disembodied brain in a jar and a gorilla, respectively — are in love with one another, before mentioning in passing that two actual, human females are seeing one another in the same book.
- Runaways is mentioned. This, you'll remember, is one of several Marvel Comics titles where the featured "groundbreaking gay relationships" involve one of the partners being a genderless, shapechanging Skrull — and in the case of Runaways, a Skrull who spends more time in male than female form, despite (or perhaps because) his ostensibly gay lover being female.
- Young Avengers is mentioned, and with it another Marvel human/Skrull pairing. At least Hulkling's writer actually has the balls to leave him looking as male as his lover, which is more than you can say for Runaways writer Brian K. Vaughan...
- Green Lantern is mentioned because Power Girl once tells the title character that a male supervillain has a crush on him. This is a joke, right?
- Notable in Teen Titans: More bestiality action with Brain and Monsieur Mallah. Ooooh, represent me, baby!
- Buried in the back list: Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, an "other label" (i.e. real-world major publisher Houghton-Mifflin) graphic novel that's been named book of the year by Time Magazine, the best graphic novel of 2006 by any number of recognized national magazines and given prominent display space in major chain bookstores. Oh, and sold a bunch of copies and was created by an actual, authentic lesbian. But that's not as mainstream as the Justice Society of America!
Javier introduces the list by stating, "As always, Nick does a fantastic job compiling this document and if there's any question to the commitment to GLAAD's process in the Media Awards, this should help clear it out." It's like he's daring the rest of us not to laugh, isn't it? The main thing I got from this list is that GLAAD should offer Marvel and DC an award if they agree not to feature gay and lesbian characters in their books in 2007. I'd take that over Skrulls and gorillas any day.