The latest issue of Gay Times has run a series of interviews with comic book creators, associated with gay-friendly books. Interviewer Joe Glass has offered Bleediing Cool the unexpurgated versions. Including Marc Andreyko, author of Torso, Manhunter and Ferryman.
Joe Glass: What's your opinion of the current level of representation of LGBTQ characters and issues in mainstream superhero comics at the moment? How would you like to see it improved, if you feel it needs to be?
Marc Andreyko: WELL, THINGS ARE BETTER THAN THEY HAVE EVER BEEN. NOW, THERE IS NARY AN EYELASH BATTED WHEN A GAY CHARACTER INTRODUCED, WHICH IS A GOOD THING, BUT, (AND YOU KNEW THERE WAS A "BUT" DIDN'T YOU?) THAT BEING SAID, THERE ARE LESS THAN A DOZEN PROMINENT GAY CHARACTERS OUT THERE. AND IF YOU REMOVE LESBIAN CHARACTERS FROM THE MIX, THERE ARE LESS THAN A HANDFUL OF GAY MALE HEROES.
AS FAR AS IMPROVING THE RATIO, I'VE NEVER BEEN ONE FOR INTRODUCING A MINORITY CHARCATER JUST FOR THE SAKE OF EXPOSURE, SO IT WILL TAKE GOOD WRITING, THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERIZATION, AND LUCK (AS THE COMICS MARKET IS A FICKLE ONE).
JG: As an openly gay creator, have you always felt included and respected within the industry? Some female staff at Marvel and DC in the past have been known to comment that the comics industry is very much a 'boys club'.
MA: I CAN HONESTLY SAY I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ANY DIRECT HOMOPHOBIA, EVER, IN MAINSTREAM COMICS. (WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ME ONCE I LEAVE IS ANYBODY'S GUESS! LOL) NOW, ON THE OTHER HAND, I WAS TOLD, TO MY FACE, THAT I WAS GOING TO HELL FOR BEING GAY BY A PROMINENT, AND SUCCESSFUL, INDEPENDENT COMICS CREATOR. (AND, NO, I WILL NOT TELL YOU WHO. GUESS AWAY!)
JG: In terms of the mainstream superhero comics, such as DC and Marvel, how do you feel the publishers do at handling gay characters and issues?
MA: I THINK THEY DO AN "OK" JOB. COMICS HAVE NEVER BEEN A PLATFORM FOR FORWARDING MINORITY ISSUES, AND WHEN THEY DO, IT IS OFTEN DIDACTIC, SO I DON'T EVER EXPEXT TO SEE "THE X-MEN V. PROP 8". THAT BEING SAID, I BELIEVE ACCEPTANCE COMES FROM FAMILIARITY, SO THE MORE OFTEN GAY CHARACTERS ARE JUST PART OF THE SCENE, THE MORE EFFECTIVE, IN MY OPINION, THE CHANGING OF BELIEFS.
JG: So far in comic book movies, no gay superhero characters have been seen. Do you think this is likely to change any time soon, or do you think that representation and characterisation in the comics needs to be improved and fleshed out more first?
WELL, NO "OUT" GAY CHARACTERS HAVE BEEN SEEN. SOME OF THEM, THOUGH, SHOULD CHECK THEIR CLOSETS:) AND THERE ARE FEW, TO NONE, MAINSTREAM MOVIES IN GENERAL THAT FEATURE GAY CHARACTERS IN LEAD ROLES, SO WE NEED TO GET IN A LONG LINE THERE.
JG: Out of the LGBTQ characters you have had the chance to write, who would you say felt hit the strongest chord with your audience, and why? Which was the most fun to write?
MA: WELL, SAM SIMON, THE GAY DETECTIVE IN "TORSO", STRUCK A CHORD WITH A SURPRISING AMOUNT OF FANS, ESPECIALLY STRAIGHT GUYS WHO — SPOILER ALERT—- WERE UPSET THAT HE WAS KILLED. AND OBISIDIAN IN THE DCU HAS A LOT OF FANS, GAY AND STRAIGHT. I TRY AND WRITE HUMAN CHARACTERS, NOT ONES DEFINED BY A SINGLE TRAIT, SO HOPEFULLY, READERS SEE THESE FOLKS AS FRIENDS WHO HAPPEN TO BE GAY, NOT JUST "GAY" CHARACTERS.
AND OBSIDIAN IS A LOT OF FUN TO WRITE. I LOVE THAT HE IS NOT TORMENTED BY BEING GAY AND IS COMPLETELY OUT. NO APOLOGIES AND ALL THAT CONFIDENCE ARE TRAITS WE COULD ALL USE MORE OF.
JG: Is there any further work which may involve LGBTQ characters that you're able to comment on? (baring in mind that the article is likely to see print in early 2011)
MA: NOPE. AT LEAST NOTHING I CAN TALK ABOUT.
JG: Do you feel there may be a bias more towards gay women characters in comics more than gay males? I've found that many more women characters in comics turn out to be gay or bisexual, some with more prominent places in DC and Marvels books. Why do you think that may be?
MA: WELL, IT STILL IS AN INDUSTRY MOSTLY RUN BY STRAIGHT MALES, SO, OF COURSE, WE SEE MORE LESBIANS! LOL I DON'T THINK THERE IS A CONSCIOUS AVOIDANCE OF GAY MALE CHARACTERS, BUT, THEN AGAIN, STRAIGHT GUYS ARE FREAKED OUT BY THE THOUGHT OF PENETRATION BY ANOTHER MALE. (WELL, FREAKED OUT BY PENETRATION BY A PENIS. BEING RUN THROUGH BY WOLVERINE'S CLAWS IS ANOTHER STORY!)
JG: Finally, why, in your opinion, do superhero comics seem to attract such a large LGBTQ fanbase?
MA: I THINK IT IS TWO-FOLD: ONE, THE CONCEPT OF A SECRET IDENTITY RESONATES WITH ANYONE WHO HAS EVER BEEN IN THE CLOSET. AND, THE FACT THAT SUPERHEROES ARE PHYSICAL IDEALS AND WEAR COSTUMES. ALL THAT ADDS UP TO A PRIDE PARADE WITH SUPERPOWERS!