Thursday, October 18, 2007

More on Rucka, Montoya, and Gay Characters in Comics

Eric Newsom's excellent Question site is hosting a multi-part in-depth interview with writer Greg Rucka. In the latest installment, Eric took the time to as Greg about statements I made regarding the lack of open gay male romance/sexual scenes in mainstream comics on the level of what he was doing with Renee Montoya.

My original quote:

"You know, aside from the question of whether this level of nudity and sex is appropriate for a non-’mature readers’ book, I wouldn’t mind it — if gay male characters in mainstream comics were afforded the same level of frankness and depiction of sensuality."

Rucka's response:

"No, I think it’s a very fair, and very valid point. The fact is, lesbianism is considered more commercially palatable. Having gay male couples seen “coupling” is a much harder sell. I’m not sure it’s something I would argue with, frankly."

Then he elaborates:

"Look, I think comics need to be more representative across the board. I think we need to see more ethnicity, more diversity, more cultural differences. The way we do that is by forging ahead, and taking the small victories where we can. There are people who think this “agenda” is a bad thing. I don’t. Literature is supposed to reflect our world, even if it’s literature that deals with men from Krypton or small furry blue creatures from Alpha Centauri."

Then Eric asks:

"Do you remember what the initial reaction was, both from editorial and the readership, on Montoya’s forced coming out?"

Rucka responds:

"Yeah. [In editorial] there was almost none. They only cared that the story was done well. There was no resistance at all to revealing that Montoya was a lesbian. Or to showing Montoya kissing Daria. I’m sure, in large part, it was because we were doing it in a book that was selling, charitably, 25K an issue, and we were outing a character that was barely on Burbank’s radar, if at all. But there was no difficulty in getting any of those issues approved."

Actually, when Burbank found out, things did get a little tense for a while in the offices. At issue was that Renee was technically considered a "WB cartoons" character -- much like Harley Quinn was. There was the issue of a character from the cartoon being gay. And there was the issue of the WB not initially being in on the "loop" regarding this character's development.

So you had this couple of days in the office where that old familar dread of "ohhhhh, there was a f**k-up, I wonder if somebody's gettin' fired" in relation to that "Gotham Central" issue where she comes out. But in the end, DC upper management stood by editorial. If they had not, somebody probably would have gotten fired. They've gotten fired for less.

Anyway, the interview in its entirety makes for excellent reading, and was a pretty excellent achievement on Eric's part.


  1. We had the same problem when Lucy Lane got pregnant before she got married. No one in Burbank knew.

  2. I honestly think the MOST tasteful lesbian thing goin on right now is Quasar and Moondragon, that's more Brokeback Mountain, less Girls Gone Wild.

    The DC lesbian stuff seems much more T&A to me to get Fanboys riled up.

    It's funny cause Marvel was the one having the whole anti-gay controversy.

    Young Avengers is probably our biggest hope for professionally done gay males, but fucking Heinberg is too busy writing gay ass Grey's Anatomy to give us more!!

  3. Oddly enough, the same problem came up when Superman died. When it became a big news item on a slow news day, there was a bit of a panic in Burbank because somebody out there thought this meant the end of the character for real.

    That, and in the true corporate way, they probably didn't like being the last to know.

  4. The fact is, lesbianism is considered more commercially palatable. Having gay male couples seen “coupling” is a much harder sell.

    Rucka clearly doesn't spend enough time in fannish circles dominated by women.

    Someone needs to introduce him to the concept of "slash," stat. Preferably by way of fanvids, imo.

    Then, maybe, he will begin to have a bit of a clue - perhaps $.01 worth - as to how to appeal to that untapped potential audience composed of a large part of half the human race...

  5. what i dont get is that the gays (teh gayz) are a HUGE market for comics.

    my comic store zeus is gay owned and operated, and is in the gayborhood in dallas, and MOST of its clients are gay, and it won the Eisner last year for best store (only store in Texas to do so).