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Comic Strips and Cartoons  
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Gay male artists still produce comics in abundance as well. New York City artist Howard Cruse, who continued to contribute to Gay Comics until its final issue, also created an early strip called Barefootz--a kind of "softer, gentler" comic that helped address gay issues to the mainstream.

In 1983 Cruse introduced Wendel, a comic strip whose eponymous protagonist was a "real" gay man depicted in everyday life; the strip appeared in The Advocate until 1989.

D.C. Comics published Cruse's 210-page graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby (1995), a major artistic accomplishment that met with wide critical acclaim and was reprinted in November 2000. Cruse continues to create various new comics, including Wendel books.

Tim Barela's first comic was published in 1976 in a weekly paper called Cycle News. After a stint working for "motorcycle-oriented publications," he developed his comic strip Leonard and Larry, which features a domestic gay couple in a situation comedy format. The strip was first run in Gay Comix, then made its way into the pages of The Advocate. Leonard and Larry also ran for many years in Frontiers magazine, and has been collected into several books.

Gerard Donelan's first cartoon premiered in The Advocate in 1977 and he went on to create that magazine's "It's a Gay Life" page for 15 years. Known simply as Donelan, he has also illustrated calendars and greeting cards, as well as publishing two collections of his comics. His work has appeared in Frontiers magazine and in several volumes of the gay comic anthology, Meatmen.

Eric Orner is the creator of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, which has been collected into four separate books published in the 1990s. Orner, who sold his first cartoon in 1977 to the Chicago Daily News, has since had his comics appear in The Washington Post and the New Republic. Ethan Green offers a realistic look at gay life as it follows the unglamorous Ethan's quest for commitment from his on-again, off-again boyfriend Doug. It currently runs in numerous weekly papers across the United States, Canada, and Britain.

Queer Nation touted itself as "the only regularly published queer superhero comic in existence--on or off the web." Its creators Chris Cooper and John Dennis established in January of 1999 and updated the site weekly until its demise in 2003. Cooper is a writer and former editor at Marvel Comics, and Dennis has done work for almost every major comic publisher in the United States.

Also creating gay male comics today are Ivan Velez Jr., creator of the series Tales of the Closet (1987-1993), whose work has also appeared in Gay Comics, Details, and HX Magazine; Dave Brousseau, who has been creating his strip A Couple of Guys, which is syndicated in 25 papers in the United States, since 1996; Glen Hanson and Allan Neuwirth, whose comic strip Chelsea Boys first appeared in New York City's Next magazine in 1998, and runs regularly in gay papers and magazines in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa; and Andy Mangels, who was the editor of Gay Comics for eight years and has written Star Wars and Star Trek books in addition to nearly a hundred comic books.

In addition to these cartoonists who have achieved national or international distribution are many who draw strips and cartoons for local gay and lesbian newspapers, such as Ron Williams who draws a strip entitled Quarter Scenes for New Orleans' Impact. These local cartoonists often confront local issues and topics peculiar to their locales.

Gay and lesbian characters will likely continue to proliferate in mainstream comics as well. One sign of this development is the recent reincarnation of Marvel Comics' Rawhide Kid as a gay character. A Marvel character since the 1950s as both a main and secondary character, the Rawhide Kid was not originally homosexual. However, in a new series inaugurated in 2003 with Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather, the hero revealed his homosexuality in a series of campy double entendres.

Teresa Theophano

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More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Bechdel, Alison

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel is best known for her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which has run in alternative gay and lesbian newspapers for nearly two decades.

arts >> Berlanti, Greg

Writer-director-producer Greg Berlanti has had a prolific career in television, successfully incorporating glbtq characters and storylines into prime time shows.

arts >> Cruse, Howard

Prolific gay cartoonist Howard Cruse has not only created the historic Wendel comic strip, but has also published an important graphic novel.

arts >> DiMassa, Diane

Diane DiMassa is best known as the creator of the controversial and widely popular comic-zine Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist.

arts >> Jansson, Tove

Best known for her series of children's books about the Moomin family of trolls, Tove Jansson, considered a national treasure in Finland, also wrote fiction for adults and was an accomplished artist and illustrator.

arts >> König, Ralf

Germany's most successful comic strip artist, Ralf König has made gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes the most important component of his work.

arts >> Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen)

Defiantly rejecting the invisibility, homophobia, and indignities of pre-Stonewall life, the men in Tom of Finland's drawings reflect a hyper-masculine, working-class version of homosexual manhood that proved important to the emerging gay rights movement.


Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson, eds. Completely Queer. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Jusick, Steven Kent. "Lesbian and Gay Comics." Out in All Directions: A Treasury of Gay and Lesbian America. Lynn Witt, Sherry Thomas, and Eric Marcus, eds. New York: Warner Books, 1997. 522-524.

Jusick, Steven Kent. "Successes--Queer Strip Characters." Out in All Directions: A Treasury of Gay and Lesbian America. Lynn Witt, Sherry Thomas, and Eric Marcus, eds. New York: Warner Books, 1997. 524-526.

Triptow, Robert, ed. Gay Comics. New York: Plume, 1989.

Warren, Roz, ed. Dyke Strippers: Lesbian Cartoonists A-Z. Pittsburgh: Cleis Press, 1995.

Gay comic book sites:


    Citation Information
    Author: Theophano, Teresa  
    Entry Title: Comic Strips and Cartoons  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated August 14, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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