Gays finally get their own heroes, from drama queens to teen dreams

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Gays (and their straight cousins, nerds) have kept the comic-book industry afloat for years (Dallas’ own Zeus Comics is, in fact, gay-owned. From spinning around as Wonder Woman in our mothers’ shawl to lusting after that water-breathing dreamsubmarine Aquaman, we’ve powered the superheroes and even appreciated how butch and ripped the artwork makes the ideal man appear.

But that also means we’ve watched powerlessly as Peter Parker tries to make a relationship work with Mary Jane, when the only “mary jane” we probably desired came around 4:20. Comic book heroes, with few exceptions, have always been straight.

Well, not anymore.

Two new bound editions of characters that came to life in the comic book pages are now available in compendia that acknowledge gay folks … albeit in vastly different ways.

Greg Fox’s Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast: A Second Bowl of Serial, combines two things gay men are known for: Hot bodies and drama.

The first thing you admire is Fox’s draftsmanship, which seductively captures the beefy, muscled, multicultural bodies of proprietor Kyle and his 20- and 30-something friends, from the closeted ballplayer Brad to gossipy Richard and tortured Latino Eduardo. Fox has a way with poses that look real and well-observed while stringing together dishy plots worthy of (actually, superior to) Melrose Place.

The strip appears regularly in Dallas Voice, but even if you’ve caught it there, there is still a lot more to be enjoyed in this edition, including an entire three-page, never-before-published story and some of Fox’s, er, less discrete figure drawings.

On the other end of the spectrum, Archie’s Pal Kevin Keller by Dan Parent provides younger queer comic fans with a role model who “just so happens” to be gay, but still resides in the homespun Archie universe.

Kevin is a handsome, smart gay kid, so of course Veronica sets him in her sights; one entire arc in this hardback edition deals with Betty egging on Veronica into making a fool of herself for not realizing Kevin’s gay.

If that sounds like a plot that could have been on The Facts of Life, it is. Archiedom lives in a brightly lit world of perpetual youth where kids worry more about prom dates than date rape — it’s a giant leap away from Kyle’s B&B. But that’s OK. We don’t require all our comic book heroes be the same, or even heroic; we just like to see our lives represented on the page by people who know that gays are as varied and interesting and silly as straights. Mission accomplished.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 11, 2012.