Tag Archives: LGBT

Clay Walker and Kevin Keller's wedding

Minorities in cartoons: Clay Walker

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Clay Walker, a character in Archie Comics.

(SPOILERS aplenty about the “Life With Archie” series below…)

Clay exists in Archie’s “Life With Archie” series, which has just concluded as of this writing. The series presented the Archie gang as twentysomethings. Each issue featured two different alternate futures: one in which Archie married Betty, another where Archie married Veronica. Both futures had similar events. For instance, both futures saw Moose finally dumped by Midge due to his violent temper, which was apparently part of what it took for him to finally clean up his act. Jughead also ended up owning the Chocklit Shoppe in both futures. Differences included the aforementioned Moose becoming Mayor of Riverdale in the “Veronica” future, and Jughead marrying Midge in the “Betty” future. (If curious, the “Veronica” future sees Jughead marry his longtime admirer, “Big” Ethel Muggs.)

Fortunately, Clay exists in both futures, and leads the same life in both. Clay is a physical therapist and native of Baltimore who helps the adult Kevin Keller recover from injuries sustained during an unnamed Asian/middle eastern war (no, probably not the same “generic Asian conflict” Rhodey was in). During the recovery, the two grew close and eventually fell in love. After Kevin recovered, the two decided to get married, with the wedding held at the Chocklit Shoppe and officiated by Riverdale’s mayor. (Yes, Riverdale’s in a state with legalized same-sex marriage… probably out on the east coast, per various references dropped in recent Archie comics stories.) Clay was also supportive of Kevin’s run for the US Senate, while making his own career change—replacing a retiring doctor (and taking over his clinic) in Riverdale.

Clay also fell victim to violence himself, as he was shot while trying to intervene in a convenience store robbery. Fortunately, he managed to recover. Later, Clay found a new client at his clinic (and worker at the Chocklit Shoppe) that started to follow him around for some reason…which turned out to be the shooter at a recent mall shooting in a neighboring town. Unfortunately, while Clay and Kevin were saved from further gun violence (when the shooter emerged at fundraiser for Kevin), Archie wasn’t so lucky.

With the ending of “Life With Archie,” this might be the last we’ll see of Clay. Unlike the Archie gang, Clay doesn’t have a teenage counterpart in present-day stories, especially given Kevin doesn’t meet him until he’s an adult. Of course, this being comics (and Archie continuity never as strong as that of their DC/Marvel cohorts), a teenaged Clay could show up someday…

Life With Archie #16

Archie banned in Singapore over gay marriage storyline

One Million Moms isn’t the only entity whose ire Archie has raised with the storyline where the adult Kevin Keller gets married. It looks like they’ve also ticked off the country of Singapore, or at least its censors, per this Comics Alliance article:

Singapore Bans Archie’s Kevin Keller Gay Marriage Comic.

I’m pretty sure they felt the story fell under “deviant sexual practices” and “alternative lifestyles,” per the article’s listing of their censorship board’s rules.

Singapore’s been recently debating censorship of media, one of the various aspects of the strictly conservative country where homosexuality is illegal. The Simpsons episode “Bart vs. Australia” was a parody of the then-current news story about Singapore’s “caning” of an American teenaged vandal. Recently, Singapore’s libraries (under pressure from an anti-gay group) have recently removed and destroyed several children’s books that were thought to “promote” homosexuality, though said removal did meet with some protests.

Minorities in cartoons: Jason (“Love and Capes”)

Jason and Charlotte, Love and Capes
Jason (left) and Charlotte (right).

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Jason, a supporting character in the comic series “Love and Capes” by Thom Zahler. Jason’s first appearance is in “Love and Capes” (first series) #8 in 2008.

Jason is an employee at the bookstore owned by Abby; he was hired to replace the then-departed Charlotte, Abby’s sister and former employee. A film school student, Jason’s previous job was at a video rental store, where he didn’t manage to save much money due to buying too many DVDs. Unlike many of the other characters in the series, Jason’s unaware of the superpowered nature of Abby’s beau, Mark (aka “The Crusader”); upon seeing Mark lift with one hand a heavy box of books, Jason asks why he’s lifting an empty box like that. Otherwise, Jason’s shown as an earnest employee at the bookstore.

As many of the series’ characters are pastiches or analogues of famous superheroes, Jason might be an analogue of Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s friend: both being younger friends/coworkers of their series’ lead characters, both are interested in film/video, and both are unaware of their friend being a superhero. Unlike Jimmy, however, Jason has one difference: he’s gay. Given the romantic comedy aspects of the series, Jason’s eventually revealed to have a boyfriend of his own. Of course, unlike Jimmy, said boyfriend isn’t a Lucy Lane analogue—that role’s already filled by Abby’s sister Charlotte, though Charlotte and Jason both end up as coworkers at the bookstore during the series’ run.

Anthony’s Archie Comics picks for July 2014

Kevin Keller #15Here’s what’s of interest from Archie for July 2014. Full solicitations are available here.

Comics

  • Archie #658, on sale July 30, $3
  • Betty and Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest #225, on sale July 23, $7
  • Jughead and Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #5, on sale Aug. 13, $7
  • Kevin Keller #15, on sale July 15, $3 (Final issue)
  • Life With Archie #36, on sale July 23, $10 (Final issue)

Trade paperbacks

  • The Death of Archie, on sale Aug. 6, $15

Comments

As I’ve noted earlier, Kevin Keller’s solo comic has been cancelled as of this month, which I’ll miss. In his final issue, Kevin becomes a reluctant superhero (“The Equalizer”) at the behest of Veronica.

Much hyped in mainstream press is this month’s “Death of Archie” story, in the also-being-cancelled “Life With Archie.” While I doubt they’ll publish a follow-up where there’s four imitation Archies running around Riverdale, it is the last we’ll see of these adult versions of the characters. It’s back to their usual teenage selves otherwise…

There’s two “Jumbo Comics Digests” (formerly “Double Double Digests”) out this month? Odd, especially with “Betty and Veronica””s digest just having had a double-sized installment recently.

“Kevin Keller” to be cancelled in July

Kevin KellerYet another bit of cancellation news about a comic I’ve enjoyed: “Kevin Keller,” the comic about Archie’s openly gay character, will be cancelled in July with issue #15. Kevin’s creator and main writer/artist, Dan Parent, gave some remarks on Kevin’s history and Archie’s future plans for the character in an interview.

I’m sorry to see Kevin’s title being axed, but I presume sales must’ve declined. Archie’s sales on their “floppy” comics have usually been much lower than those for their digests, which usually rival what a top-selling DC or Marvel book sells. With “Life With Archie” also ending soon, that’ll end (for now) any regularly published stories featuring Kevin. I assume Kevin’s short-term future might be similar to that of Cheryl Blossom’s, with Kevin making supporting character appearances, etc. in various Archie stories, as well as digest reprints of his solo book.

As for comics starring LGBT characters, while greatly differing in tone from “Kevin Keller,” I still have a few comic strips I read, including “A Couple of Guys” and “Kyle’s Bed and Breakfast.”

 

Minorities in cartoons: Thunder and Lightning

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is a double one this week: Thunder and Lightning, a pair of superheroine sisters who’re the daughters of superhero Black Lightning.

Thunder

ThunderThunder (real name: Anissa Pierce) is the older of the Pierce siblings. Thunder possesses the ability of increasing her body’s mass while keeping her size the same, thus increasing her density. This allows her to become immovable and invulnerable, as well as generate shock waves by stomping her foot.

Anissa promised her father she’d wait until she finished college before taking up superheroics, which she did, becoming Thunder after graduation. As Thunder, Anissa had various superhero adventures, including joining the superhero team the Outsiders. There, she met fellow teammate Grace Choi, who becomes her close teammate and eventual lover.

Thunder first appeared in “Outsiders” (volume 3) #1 in August 2003. She was created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney.

Lightning

LightningLightning (real name: Jennifer Pierce) is the younger of the Pierce siblings. Like her father (and various other African-American superheroes), Lightning possesses the usual electrical-themed superpowers, including the ability to fly. After seeing Thunder’s more covert/less-than-mainstream superhero team (and the rough experiences she had there), Black Lightning decided his younger daughter needed a more formal training in her powers/becoming a superheroine, and had her join the Justice Society. There, Jennifer met and befriended fellow younger JSAers Stargirl, Cyclone, and Jakeem Thunder.

Lightning first appeared in the Elseworlds/possible-future set story of “Kingdom Come” in 1996, and was created by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. She entered mainstream present-day continuity in “Justice Society of America” (volume 3) #12 in March 2008.

For both Thunder and Lightning, the 2011 New 52 reboot saw their father Black Lightning reduced in age like everyone else (in the name of “younger and hipper”), thus preventing the superheroine sisters from existing. It remains to be seen if we’ll ever see the two again (and if so, in what form).

Outside of comics, the Pierce sisters and their father appeared in a pair of “DC Nation” shorts on Cartoon Network. Thunder was voiced by Cree Summer, Lightning by Masasa Moyo, and Black Lightning by Blair Underwood. Both shorts are available on YouTube: Short #1 / Short #2 In the shorts, Thunder and Lightning are cast as a teenager and a pre-teen (respectively), while Black Lightning seems fairly young looking. This would seem to disprove the need for the de-aging/rendered nonexistence of their New 52 counterparts.

Minorities in cartoons: “Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World”

Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in the WorldThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is “Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.”

Rick & Steve” is an animated series about the misadventures of the show’s stars Rick and Steve, a gay thirtysomething couple, and their extremely dysfunctional group of friends. The series is set in the fictional town of “West Lahunga Beach” in California. (The town seems to resemble the most stereotypical aspects of various famous gay neighborhoods, including West Hollywood, California and San Francisco’s Castro.) As the bad-pun name of their town indicates, the show’s humor style is quite “blue,” with their world at large, as well as the show’s plots and characters, resembling an LGBT version of “South Park.”

The show’s stop-motion animation style was done to resembles Lego or Playmobil action figures. Wikipedia claims the former sued the show’s producers to drop the Lego aspects.

Rick is of Filipino descent (as is the show’s creator, Q. Allan Brocka), and shown as smarter than his husband, Steve; the series shows this is to the point Rick joined a gay version of the intellectual group Mensa. Supporting characters on the show include Rick and Steve’s friends Kirsten and Dana, a lesbian couple. Dana in particular resembles the “butch” stereotypes of lesbians. Another pair of friends of Rick and Steve are Chuck and Evan. Chuck is a 50-year-old HIV+ man in a wheelchair, while Evan is his vapid 19-year-old Latino boyfriend who spends his time at nightclubs.

Plotlines on the series included Rick and Steve dealing with their respective families (Rick’s mother is gay-friendly, Steve’s mother isn’t), Kirsten and Dana’s attempt at having a baby, and other misadventures that play up or ridicule various LGBT stereotypes.

“Rick & Steve” ran from 2007 to 2009, for a total of 14 episodes spread across two seasons. The show ran on Logo in the US (an LGBT-oriented cable channel) and Teletoon’s “Adult Swim”-like nighttime block in Canada.

Rick was voiced by actor Will Matthews, while Steve was voiced by Peter Paige, whose most prominent role was playing Emmett on Showtime’s LGBT series “Queer As Folk.” Kirsten and Dana were voiced by Emily Brooke Hands (season 1)/Jessica-Snow Wilson (season 2) and Taylor Dooley respectively. Chuck was voiced by actor Alan Cumming, while Evan was voiced by actor Wilson Cruz.

Minorities in cartoons: Asok

AsokThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Asok, a supporting character in Scott Adams’ newspaper comic strip “Dilbert.”

Asok was first introduced in 1996 as an intern for “Dilbert”‘s nameless corporation, providing the strip with material based on Asok being an idealistic intern thrust into “Dilbert”‘s completely dysfunctional, soul-crushing workplace. As such, Asok will sometimes have higher-minded/more idealistic expectations than Dilbert, Wally, and company. Asok also is shown being stuck in his position as an intern despite his qualifications (so the company can exploit his manpower/talents for intern-level pay). Despite being one of the strip’s more optimistic characters, Asok will also (like Dilbert and Alice) point out the flaws in the company, including the office’s Pointy-Haired Boss. Recently, Asok’s been shown receiving “mentoring” and advice from Wally, a coworker who does virtually nothing besides figure out how to slack off and drink coffee (Wally’s perpetually shown holding a coffee mug).

Early strips had a few jokes related to Asok having studied telekinesis at the Indian Institutes of Technology.

In the “Dilbert” TV series, Asok was voiced by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants.

A February 2014 strip was done in response to a recent Indian Supreme Court ruling that upheld an anti-gay colonial-era law. In the strip, Dogbert and Asok break the fourth wall to state their annoyance at the ruling, plus declare that Asok’s officially gay.

 

2014 GLAAD Media Awards nominees for outstanding comic book announced

Life With Archie #16This year’s GLAAD media award nominees have been announced. The awards are given annually to mainstream media productions that depict gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals or issues in a positive light.

For outstanding comic book, the nominees are:

  • Batwoman (DC Comics)
  • Life With Archie (Archie)
  • Young Avengers (Marvel)
  • Husbands (Dark Horse)
  • Fearless Defenders (Marvel)

Going over each nominee…

  • “Batwoman” got nominated this year, in spite of DC’s idiotic antics over the past year regarding not allowing the characters to get married…and, well, driving said creators off the book.
  • “Life With Archie” is presumably being nominated on the heels of Kevin Keller’s win last year, plus the adult Kevin and husband Clay’s storyline in this title.
  • “Young Avengers” and “Fearless Defenders” are two Marvel entries depicting LGBT characters.
  • “Husbands” is published by Dark Horse, and features the adventures of a newly-married gay couple. Originally a sitcom, the comic takes a more fantastical approach to the characters.

While I’ve not read all of them, I’m sure they’re all deserving of the prize, though I’d vote for “Life With Archie.”

The winning nominee will be announced this spring.

The Disney Channel finally introduces LGBT characters

Disney ChannelWhile LGBT characters have made inroads into various other areas of media as characters, children’s media seem to be the one area where gays have long been deemed off-limits. This is particularly so for children’s television. Basically, it’s OK for kids to see book-dumb kids with fairy godparents but said kid still subject to child abuse/neglect, and kids making strange creatures that can only say their own name engage in (basically) cockfighting, but a story about Uncles Roger and Bob stopping by for a visit has long been deemed a big “NO.” Gays have long been deemed not “suitable” for American children’s television, despite that kids see such characters in primetime sitcoms, children’s comics, etc.

At least, until now. Disney this week debuted a lesbian couple on “Good Luck Charlie,” one of its multitude of live-action sitcoms. The couple are neighbors of the starring family, and have a preschool child of their own (the plot has them stop by for a playdate with Charlie). However, don’t get too attached to them, “Charlie” fans—”Good Luck Charlie” has been cancelled, with the final episode to air shortly.

One Million Moms, fresh off their failed anti-Archie protest and protesting “SheZow,” got wind of this and tried to protest, to no avail.

For more on this, plus a video clip of the parents’ introductory scene, here’s an article on Zap2It:

http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2014/01/good-luck-charlie-debuts-first-same-sex-couple-on-the-disney-channel.html?aid=zap2it

The fact Disney’s willing to introduce LGBT characters on any of their shows suggests things are finally changing for children’s TV. It also makes seeing openly gay characters more likely in children’s animation, hopefully with better treatment compared to primetime/adult animation. Primetime/adult animation’s depictions of LGBT characters are (in my opinion) stuck where live-action TV was in the 1970s/80s—the characters are largely either some sort of stereotype, closeted, or non-existent altogether.