LGBT Characters in Comics

LGBT Characters In Comics

LGBT themes in comics are a relatively new concept, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) themes and characters were historically omitted intentionally from the content of comic books and their comic strip predecessors, due to either censorship or the perception that comics were for children. With any mention of homosexuality in mainstream United States comics forbidden by the Comics Code Authority (CCA) until 1989, earlier attempts at exploring these issues in the US took the form of subtle hints or subtext regarding a character's sexual orientation. LGBT themes were tackled earlier in underground comix from the early 1970s onward. Independently published one-off comic books and series, often produced by gay creators and featuring autobiographical storylines, tackled political issues of interest to LGBT readers.

Since the 1990s LGBT themes have become more common in mainstream US comics, including in a number of titles in which a gay character is the star. European comics have been more inclusive from an earlier date. The lack of censorship, and greater acceptance of comics as a medium of adult entertainment led to less controversy about the representation of LGBT characters. The popular Japanese manga tradition has included genres of girls' comics that feature homosexual relationships since the 1970s, in the form of yaoi and yuri. These works are often extremely romantic and idealized, and include archetypal characters that often do not identify as gay or lesbian. Since the Japanese "gay boom" of the 1990s, a body of manga by queer creators aimed at LGBT customers has been established, including both bara manga for gay men and yuri aimed at lesbians, which often have more realistic and autobiographical themes. Pornographic manga also often includes sexualised depictions of lesbians and intersex people. Queer theorists have noted that LGBT characters in mainstream comic books are usually shown as assimilated into heterosexual society, whereas in alternative comics the diversity and uniqueness of LGBT culture is emphasized.

Comic strips have also dealt in subtext and innuendo, their wide distribution in newspapers limiting their inclusion of controversial material. The first openly gay characters appeared in prominent strips in the late 1970s; representation of LGBT issues in these titles causes vociferous reaction, both praise and condemnation, to the present day. Comic strips aimed at LGBT audiences are also syndicated in gay- and lesbian-targeted magazines and comics have been created to educate people about LGBT-related issues and to influence real-world politics, with their format and distribution allowing them to transmit messages more subtle, complex, and positive than typical education material. Portrayal of LGBT themes in comics is recognized by several notable awards, including the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards and GLAAD Media Awards for outstanding comic book and comic strip.

Read more about LGBT Characters In Comics:  Comic Strips, Underground and Alternative Comics, Mainstream American Comic Books, European Comics, Japanese Comics

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