I was interviewed yesterday by a staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor for an article about gay characters in comics called “Holy matrimony, Batman! Are comic books legalizing gay marriage?” Putting aside the obvious and easy “Holy fill in the blank, Batman” cliché (a particular peeve of mine; I refer you to my essay, “Some Days You Just Can’t Get Rid of a Bomb: The Legacy of Batman” in Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV Series Matters for a long-winded but scrupulously researched explanation), something else about the article bothered me:
The writer describes me as “the artist who drew the Archie issue.”
I spent over twenty minutes on the phone with the reporter who drew (sic) the article, out of which she pulled just one quote: “We were trying to be current. This is what our society looks like, and Riverdale [Archie’s fictional hometown] is an inclusive place.” That in itself isn’t a problem, but I am certain that I made at least half a dozen references to Life With Archie, “the comic book that I write.”
(6.8.12-I contacted the writer, who has subsequently corrected the error.)
Which leads me to my point: Why in the world should I accept anything in an article where the writer can’t get something as basic as my role in the creation of the Kevin Keller marriage story right?
And a second point: The article’s anti-gay bias.* Later in the piece, she quotes a “29-year old nurse, sitting at a Sherman Oaks café with her 2-year old daughter” as saying, “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.”
Our 29-year old nurse is, of course, welcome to her opinion (although I’m not sure what she finds more disturbing, fighting crime or being gay), but at some point in the interview I said, “It’s not like a straight kid reading this is going to say, ‘oh yeah, that’s for me!’ You either is or you isn’t,” a comment that elicited a laugh from the reporter. If the point of the article was to explore the issue, why not present both sides? Besides, the very idea that a comic book–or movie or television–character can lead a kid astray (as if being gay is going astray) is ludicrous, but it remains one of the leading arguments in the bigots’ arsenal. And, frankly, considering the current state of the American comic book industry, it’s kind of ridiculous to think comics can influence kids.
Influencing children would require children to actually be reading them.
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*We also get this: “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.’”