Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gay Caped Crusaders

The times, they change.

When the mutant superhero Iceman came out last month — thanks to a one-two punch of his prying telepathic teammate and a time-travel visit from his younger self — he immediately became the most prominent gay comic book character. ...

[October] saw the first issue of “Stripling Warrior,” which features superheroes that are gay and lesbian — and Mormon. ...

“The industry is catching on pretty quickly to the fact that diversity can improve sales of comics,” Josh Siegel, founder of Geeks Out, wrote in an email. “So publishers are evolving their lines of books to showcase queer characters in a number of interesting ways.”

The growing depiction of L.G.B.T. characters comes at a crossroads of passionate fandom and concentrated efforts by publishers to attract broader audiences. Gay fans have long admired the impossibly perfect bodies and chiseled features of their heroes and felt a kinship with some like the X-Men, who fought for acceptance in a world that feared and hated them simply for being mutants.

And publishers, in an attempt to reflect modern times, have introduced a plethora of champions who are no longer primarily straight, white and male under their masks. ...

It's healthy, I think, to have comics reflect the world as it actually exists. White people, gay people, black people, Asian people. ("Gravity! It keeps me glued to the ground!")

The question is, while diversity blossoms inside the pages of comic books and graphic novels, when will some of that rainbow glow into the animated and live-action versions of the comics? I'm thinking that changes might be slow, because our fine entertainment conglomerates are timid when it comes to putting profits and cash flow at (perceived) risk.

When change does come on the animation side, it will be in small dribs and drabs. And once studios discover that diversity helps pull in additional moolah, they will do more of it. Because first, last and forever, it is about the bucks.


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