Thursday, March 21, 2013
I really enjoyed reading the stories from the underground comic scene. Easily my favorite collection of stories was Gay Comix. These were very personal stories about the artist's lives as gay, lesbian, and bisexual people living in the 70's. (I found it interesting that transgender people were not represented, when nowadays they are synonymous in the LGBT acronym.) Some of the stories were about an artist's entire life: growing up, falling in love and the unique challenges that come along with being gay. Some stories dealt with having a partner that recently died of Aids, while others were about dealing with a parent coming out later in life. When I first saw the cover of this book, I was expecting the comics to be a lot more salacious and shocking than what was actually inside. I'm sure the cover falls into the typical underground comics quota for being eye catching and overtly sexual. And while there are a few more raunchy strips that focus soley on sex humor (talking penises!) most of the comics inside are deeply personal and touching. It's clear that these queer artists were desperate to have a voice and they really put their all into these comics. It says a lot about where America was culturally when these honest, heartfelt depictions of homosexuality in comics could only be found in the same dives next to underground comics that were made for just pornographic shock value. Only 30 years ago just the subject of homosexuality was completely taboo and it's clear that the stories in Gay Comix were trying to dispel that. It's just sad that the comic would never have the wide reach to impact the people who needed to see this perspective the most. It's even more depressing to think that in this day and age these stories by gay people would still be deemed too shocking in many parts of the country.
The thing I took most from these comics is how lucky we are to live in a time where queer stories are easily accessible. The internet is filled with the personal stories of LGBT people through blogs, video posts, and even web comics. A lot of the stories I read in Gay Comix reminded me of some of the gay web comics that I've read like Go Get a Roomie. While the honest account of gay people are still not widely found in mainstream culture, there is at least some progress. For instance you don't have to go looking in a seedy underground record store anymore to find stories about gay characters. Big name comic book publishers like Marvel and DC have begun to put a little effort when it comes to queer representation and diversity. Most notably the current incarnation of Batwoman is an out lesbian who's sexuality is handled rather seriously and isn't just fetishized for a male audience.