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arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Comic Strips and Cartoons  
 
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Jerry Mills premiered his Poppers series in the early 1980s, via a sex magazine, In Touch. The comic often focused on male sexual hijinks and promiscuity.

In 1987, Extraño, an effeminate Hispanic gay man was introduced in D.C. Comics' Millennium and continued for a brief run in New Guardians.

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In Germany in the late 1980s, Ralf König began publishing his SchwulComix (Gay Comics), both individual comic strips and cartoons and comic stories, that would ultimately make him Germany's most famous cartoonist. He soon moved from comic strips to best-selling comic novels, several of which were made into successful films.

A real breakthrough was the founding of the annual publication Gay Comics, which debuted in 1980 as Gay Comix and ran for 25 issues. First under the editorial leadership of the prolific Howard Cruse, the comic continued through the 1990s with Robert Triptow and then Andy Mangels at the helm. Its wide appeal made possible the bridging of the gap between underground and mainstream comics.

The 1990s and the State of Gay Comics Today

While we are still unlikely to find widespread or accurate portrayals of ourselves in the Sunday funnies, there are numerous comic books and graphic novels--ones veering toward the mainstream, with wide distribution--that feature realistic and openly gay characters.

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez's cutting-edge series Love and Rockets, published by Fantagraphics and successful throughout the 1990s, attracted queer audiences with its lesbian and gay male characters. Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, published by Vertigo/DC, introduced several queer characters as well, and remained phenomenally popular from its inception in 1989 until its demise in 1997.

In 1992, a teenage male character named Laurence Poirier actually came out in the syndicated strip For Better or for Worse by Lynn Johnston. And Alpha Flight's Northstar, a Marvel Comics hero, announced his homosexuality that same year, at last nulling Marvel's 1980 statement that gay people simply did not exist in the "Marvel universe." themes also surfaced in the 1990s in D. C. Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes and Camelot 3000.

Several lesbian comic artists gained popularity in the 1990s and continue to attract large female readerships today. The groundbreaking Roberta Gregory, whose work continued to appear in publications such as Gay Comics in the 1980s, began her sex comic strip Artistic Licentiousness in 1990. She went on in 1991 to start a quarterly called Naughty Bits, starring her infamous characters Bitchy Bitch--an extremely cranky straight woman--and, later, Bitchy Butch, an out lesbian character. The comic has been collected into four bound books.

Meanwhile, Dykes to Watch Out For, a long-running series by Alison Bechdel, has been a hit since its emergence in New York feminist paper Womanews in 1983. The hilarious series portrays a down-to-earth circle of lesbian friends with all of their accompanying dyke drama, and currently runs biweekly in over forty papers. Bechdel, who has published several Dykes to Watch Out For books, remained a true icon of the lesbian underground by refusing a 1994 offer by the Universal Press Syndicate to run the strip in mainstream daily papers. She remarked that she had no desire to "speak to the mainstream."

Another hugely popular lesbian comic strip is Diane DiMassa's Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist. With her publishing company, Giant Ass, DiMassa began producing individual comic books featuring Hothead and her cat Chicken in 1991, and went on to publish the comic strip quarterly. Hothead, who takes a hands-on approach to lesbian feminism by castrating rapists herself, is a hero of lesbians everywhere. After publishing two collections, DiMassa compiled all of the Hothead comics into The Complete Hothead Paisan in 1999.

Other successful lesbian and bisexual female comic artists creating today include Kris Kovick, who has published a book of her own and whose work has appeared in numerous queer anthologies; Jennifer Camper, who published the book Rude Girls and Dangerous Women (1994) and is currently at work on a new series called subGURLZ; Erika Lopez, the author of a popular illustrated novel trilogy starring her alter ego, Tomato Rodriguez; Andrea Natalie, creator of the Stonewall Riots strip and founder of the Lesbian Cartoonists Network; and Fish, a leatherdyke artist who specializes mainly in illustration.

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