Newspaper article International New York Times

Pow! Gay Comic Books Are Zapping Stereotypes

Newspaper article International New York Times

Pow! Gay Comic Books Are Zapping Stereotypes

Article excerpt

Industry insiders say the trend of offering a wider selection of gay-themed comic books echoes America's evolving attitudes.

Mainstream comic book publishers have tried for years to draw a more diverse readership by incorporating gay characters and story lines.

Lately, they have faced increased competition from smaller publishers that want to go more mainstream and already have an established roster of inclusive offerings.

As the industry prepares to gather at Comic-Con International, which begins Thursday in San Diego, publishers big and small will be promoting a wider selection of gay-themed comic books. Industry insiders say the trend echoes America's evolving attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. "The population of America has changed, and acceptance of gays has changed," said Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, which tracks the comic book industry.

ICv2 reported last week that total sales of comic books and graphic novels in the United States and Canada reached $935 million in 2014, an increase of 7 percent over 2013.

The United States Supreme Court's landmark ruling on marriage equality in June came as a growing majority of Americans said they supported same-sex marriage, according to a recent Gallup poll. Support among those 18 to 29 is at nearly 80 percent.

Against this backdrop, DC Comics revamped its lineup in June. "Our main directive is to make these characters as modern and reflective of the real world," said Jim Lee, a co-publisher of DC Comics.

Part of DC's overhaul included creating a series for a gay superhero named Midnighter, a character that fans and critics have praised. His popularity stems in part from efforts to make his sexual orientation just one aspect of his character. For instance, he also likes to fight and is promiscuous.

Phil Jimenez, an artist known for his work on Wonder Woman and the Amazing Spider-Man comics, says that many readers no longer want to see the effeminate stereotype of the gay man in comics. Instead, they want gay superheroes to live as typical males.

"As long as the dude is dude enough, then he's acceptable," he said. …

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