Holy matrimony, Batman! Are comic books legalizing gay marriage?
Gay characters and gay marriage, even among superheroes, are cropping up in the comic book universe, in what one artist calls an attempt 'to be current.' The reaction, predictably, is mixed.
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“In both cases,” he says, “non-comic readers met these changes with a mix of curiosity and protest, but most comic fans embraced the actions.”Skip to next paragraph
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This latest foray into changing social mores is being met with a similar mix of acceptance and apprehension.
"I’m totally open to it, we’ve got all kinds on this earth, why not in comic books?" says Arthur Magdaleno, custodian at Dixie Canyon Elementary school in Sherman Oaks, Calif., who has two children, ages 26 and 27. "We raised them to have an open mind about relationships and this seems the moment to stand by that training."
Krista McCauley, a 29-year-old nurse, sitting at a Sherman Oaks cafe with her 2-year old daughter, expresses reservations.
"I'm not against the gay lifestyle, but … I don't think it's appropriate to be dangling something in front of kids that they might think the adult world is telling them, ‘this is something you could or should be aspiring to ... Like fight crime and be gay.’ I think it sends a confused message."
Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the conservative Culture and Media Institute, is flatly opposed, saying via e-mail, “comics join movies, TV, music, and news media as part of the barrage of pro-gay propaganda that targets our nation every day.” The goal of the media industry, he says, “is to overwhelm American morality and bully opponents into complete acceptance of the gay subculture.”
However, the economics of a faltering comic book industry are perhaps an equally significant factor, says Brad Ricca, author of the upcoming book on comic book superheroes, “Super boys.”
Mr. Ricca, who teaches classes on popular culture and superheroes at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, says via e-mail that while the new population of gay superheroes in comics is being accepted by many readers, it is proving to be divisive among the usual political suspects on both sides.
But, he says, this divisiveness is exactly what the comics companies are going for, “because this outcry results in media coverage. Parents have always been leery of comics, mostly because of their crazy physical violence and vigilante justice. Not to mention the fear of 10-year-olds attaching blankets to their backs and trying to jump off the roof, which, very sadly, has happened.”
But, adds Ricca, if parents are against something, it usually means kids will flock to it, “which is what the companies are hoping for.”
Staff writer Daniel B. Wood contributed to this report.