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September 11th, 2007

Gay Geeks…Just Like Straight Geeks, Only Gay…

I’m reading a post on After Elton about gay comic book heros, or more precisely the darth thereof, and how the ones that are out there seldom fare much better then other gay characters in pop culture fiction…

Comic writer Mark Millar isn’t thrilled to learn that his story was the breaking point that inspired Perry Moore to tell a positive story of a gay superhero. A 2005 story by Millar was brought up in Sunday’s New York Times profile of Moore:

But things work out relatively well for him, which makes sense given Mr. Moore’s distaste for how some gay comic-book characters have been treated. His hackles still rise at the death of Northstar, a mutant hero who made headlines in 1992 when he uttered the words “I am gay” in the pages of a Marvel comic.

Death is rarely final in comics, so it’s no surprise that Northstar came back to life. “They couldn’t bother to mention he was gay,” Mr. Moore said of Northstar’s most recent appearance in “X-Men.”

Taking a cue from Gail Simone, a comic-book writer who first gained notice as a fan with her Web site, “Women in Refrigerators”, detailing the mistreatment of female heroes, Mr. Moore created his own tally. “Who Cares About the Death of a Gay Superhero?,” which he has delivered as a speech, includes more than 60 gay and lesbian comic book characters who have been ignored, maimed or murdered.

“Yes, bad things do happen to all people,” he wrote in it. “But are there positive representations of gay characters to counterbalance these negative ones?”

Not nearly enough, Mr. Moore said, and that’s one reason he wrote “Hero,” for which he already has ideas for future installments.

Millar wasn’t thrilled to see a story he wrote mentioned as a low point in superhero comics’ treatment of gay characters, and he reacted on his website:

Oh, tell him to f**k off.

He didn’t die because he was gay. He died because he’d been brainwashed by The Hand.

Well that explains it.  If that’s not geek enough for you, there’s always the reader comments, where one poster named ‘Cylon’ defends the treatment of Northstar thusly:

I think it was just a bad coincidence that he died three times that month…

He also died in X-Men: The End and Age of Apocalypse.  I hope he’s getting workman’s comp out of all this.

I’ve been reading a lot of Yaoi manga lately…stuff I’ve been buying almost by the ton from Amazon.  It’s probably a symptom of how starved for romance I’ve been most of my life, because in case you aren’t aware, yaoi are Japanese boy meets boy soap opera kinda stories, mostly marketed I’m told, to teenage Japanese girls.  When I joked in my cartoon series A Coming Out Story, about how I’d once had a stash of Tiger Beat and 16 Magazines under my bed, I wasn’t kidding.  And my tastes in comic book superheros ran more toward Spider Man then The Incredible Hulk.  I think Denny O’Neil and Michael Kaluta created a far more formidable dark knight in The Shadow (I have Every issue), then Frank Miller’s aging bar stool reactionary Batman.  I’m not generally attracted to the over muscled double-y chromosomed hulking bodybuilder genre of comic book hero, or to stories that are little more then blood and guts, slash and burn.  But the word ‘yaoi’ was originally coined as a term of derision by teenage Japanese boys, and it’s basically so I’m told, an acronym that means "no climax, no point, no meaning".  

I want my torrid same sex romance.  But I’d also like a little action and adventure please.  It would be Real Nice if some publisher could combine all these elements someday.  Or maybe it already is out there somewhere and I just haven’t found it yet.  Every now and then the manga creators manage to sneak in some Super Hero-ish elements.  One title I’m reading now, Hero Heel, the story of an actor cast as a TV superhero, who finds himself falling in love with the actor who plays the series super-villain.  I’m hopeful about the possibilities here.  Already in book one the creator Makoto Tateno seems to be weaving the plotline of the actor’s realtionship, with the plotline of the space opera they’re acting in.  This could be fun…


No…the guys of manga aren’t generally over muscled double-y chromosomed hulking bodybuilders.  They’re just unabashedly beautiful.  And the stories are unapologetically about love and desire.  Which is why I keep buying the damn things.  But high art they’re not.  Hmm…Northstar is actually pretty good looking…at least in this artist’s take…



…too bad he keeps dying.   Seriously…read Perry Moore’s Who Cares About the Death of a Gay Superhero, and you’ll see why I’m skeptical that the big comic book publishers, with their business focus on the fantasies of straight teenage boys and twenty-somethings, who also happen to be the demographic group responsible for most gay bashings, will ever be able to treat gay characters with much respect.  Of course Northstar had to die.  Read Moore and you’ll see how gruesomely, and what his fate was after being "resurrected".  The surprising thing is they only killed him three times.


One Response to “Gay Geeks…Just Like Straight Geeks, Only Gay…”

  1. Jeannette Says:

    Perhaps this sounds a bit strange, but reading yaoi helped me come to terms with myself as a lesbian. I wasn’t attracted to the male characters but I was able to identify with their stories and feelings. I still read a lot of manga, mostly yaoi and yuri (the lesbian equivalent). Most of it’s trashy and torrid, yes, but some of it’s quite good. ‘Fake’ by Sanami Matoh is a good yaoi that has some action/adventure but also focuses on the romance of two cops, Ryo and Dee. ‘Yellow,’ also by Tateno Makoto, is pretty good, though there’s a horrific portrayal of transgender issues; I don’t know whether you’d like it or not.

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