The 1980s

  • Don McGregor’s DETECTIVES, INC.: A REMEMBRANCE OF THREATENING GREEN graphic novel is published (Eclipse, July 1980), featuring the first lesbian characters in mass-market comics.
  • GAY COMIX premieres (September 1980) under the editorship of Howard Cruse. Robert Triptow takes over as editor with #5 (1984), and then Andy Mangels with #14 (1991). With #15 it changes to GAY COMICS and continues publishing through #25 (1998). Through its 25 issues and Special (1991), it is the pre-eminent anthology for LGBT comics and LGBT comics creators.
  • Jim Shooter’s infamous gay-rape story, “A VERY PERSONAL HELL,” the first gay-themed story in super-hero comics, appears in HULK #23 (Marvel, October 1980).
  • The very first published “Omaha, the Cat Dancer” strip, appearing in BIZARRE SEX #9 (Kitchen Sink, September 1981), features the self-defined bisexual SHELLEY HINE. Several characters who appear in later installments of the strip have engaged in homosexual activites, including Rob Shaw, Cee Cee, and of course Omaha herself.
  • STEWART THE RAT, a graphic novel written by Steve Gerber, features minor LGBT content (Eclipse, 1980).
  • Jerry Mills’ “POPPERS” series begins in In Touch magazine (April 1982), and is later featured in GAY COMIX and other publications.
  • In CAPTAIN AMERICA #270 (Marvel, June 1982), written by J. Marc DeMatteis, Cap comes to the aid of his childhood friend ARNIE ROTH and Arnie’s “roommate” Michael.
  • McGregor’s SABRE features gay supporting cast members DEUCES WILD and SUMMER ICE beginning with #3 (Eclipse, December 1982) and the first gay kiss in mass-produced comics in #7 (December 1983).
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #251 (Marvel, February 1983), written by John Byrne, contains the first use of the term “GAY” in mass-market comics.
  • Alison Bechdel’s first “DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR” strip appears in Womannews (July 1983). She begins to self-syndicate the strip in 1985 and it is first collected in 1986.
  • The Advocate begins to run Howard Cruse’s “WENDEL” (1983). The strip also appears in comics and paperback collections.
  • STANLEY AND THE MASK OF MYSTERY, a graphic novel by David Shenton is published in the UK (Gay Men’s Press, 1983).
  • Jeff Krell’s strip “JAYSON” debuts in the Philadelphia Gay News (1983) and later appears in GAY COMIX, MEATMEN, and other publications before the stories are collected.
  • Freelance assassins who happen to be gay, CANNON and SABER make their first appearance in Marv Wolfman’s VIGILANTE #5 (DC, April 1984).
  • In DEFENDERS #134 (Marvel, August 1984) written by Peter B. Gillis CLOUD is revealed to be transgendered, though later revealed not to be human.
  • LEONARD & LARRY” by Tim Barela debuts in GAY COMIX #5 (1984) before appearing in later issues, The Advocate, Frontier, and three collections. The strip last appeared in Frontiers’ May 10, 2002 issue.
  • Colleen Doran’s A DISTANT SOIL #7 (WaRP, March 1986) confirms that REIKEN/SEREN and D’MER have an intimate/ sexual relationship intertwined with their master/servant relationship. Though both also have sexual relationships with women, their intimate relationship continues to be an integral part of the series’ narrative.
  • WATCH OUT! COMIX by Carl Vaughn Frick, featuring social satire on the gay community in San Francisco, is released (Last Gasp, 1986).
  • FORTUNE’S FRIENDS #1: HELL WEEK, a graphic novel written by Kay & Mike Reynolds featuring a gay lead character, is released (Starblaze, 1986).
  • The first volume of MEATMEN, a trade paperback anthology of mostly erotic gay comics, is released (Leyland Publications, 1986) and has been published in 25 volumes to date.
  • The first issue of Ivan Velez, Jr.’s TALES OF THE CLOSET, a series about gay and lesbian teens comes out (Hettrick-Martin Institute, Summer/Fall 1987). Planned to run ten issues, nine have been published.
  • Mark-Wayne Harris has one issue of DANSE, featuring a lesbian lead character, published (Blackthorne, 1987).
  • DANCIN’ NEKKID WITH THE ANGELS: COMIC STRIPS & STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS collects Howard Cruse work (St. Martin’s, 1987).
  • N. Leigh Dunlap produces the strip “MORGAN CALABRESE,” which is collected in two trade paperbacks (New Victoria, November 1987 & St. Martin’s, September 1989).
  • GREGORIO DE LA VEGA, soon to become the first gay super-hero EXTRANO, and the first clearly LGBT character in CCA-approved comics, first appears in MILLENIUM #2 (DC, released in October 1987).
  • SUPERMAN (v.2) #15 (DC, March 1988) features John Byrne’s recent addition to the Superman supporting cast, MAGGIE SAWYER, and clearly indicates that she is a lesbian. This story also introduces her daughter, making her the first gay parent in mass-market comics. Due to the leading role of Maggie Sawyer in the mini-series METROPOLIS S.C.U., that series is awarded a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic, 1996. The character has also made the transition to the SUPERMAN animated series and the live-action SMALLVILLE series, and now appears in the GOTHAM CENTRAL title.
  • The homosexuality of the lead character’s assistant TIGER is casually mentioned in BILLY NGUYEN, PRIVATE EYE (Attitude Zone, March 1988), written by John Hartman.
  • Andy Mangels’ watershed two-part article “OUT OF THE CLOSET AND INTO THE COMICS” appears in Amazing Heroes #143 & #144 (Fantagraphics, June 1988).
  • GREEN ARROW (v.2) #5 & #6 (DC, June/July 1988) features the Emerald Archer breaking up a GAY BASHING GANG in a story by Mike Grell.
  • Andy Mangels moderates the first “GAYS IN COMICS panel at the San Diego Comic Con (August 6, 1988). There has been a GIC panel at San Diego each year since.
  • THE DESERT PEACH, Donna Barr’s series about the WWII adventures of Rommel’s gay brother, is first published (Thoughts & Images, October 1988) and since has appeared in over 30 single issues and several collections. he series also earned Barr a Xeric Award and Grant in 2002.
  • AARGH! (ARTISTS AGAINST RAMPANT GOVERNMENT HOMOPHOBIA) an anthology to raise funds to fight the anti-gay legislation “Clause 28″ in the UK is published (Mad Love, October 1988).
  • OH BOY! SEX COMICS by Brad Parker debuts (Leyland, 1988).
  • GAY COMICS, a history of gays in comics containing many reprinted examples, edited by Robert Triptow, is published (Plume, March 1989).
  • Founded by Jericho Wilson with central mailer Mark Phillips, NORTHSTAR becomes the first gay APA (amateur press association) with its first mailing (May 1989).
  • Angela Bocage edits the first issue of REAL GIRL, a comic anthology which is “about sex for all genders & orientations.” Eight more issues follow over the next several years (Fantagraphics, October 1989).
  • A story in WONDER WOMAN Annual #1 (1989) features KEVIN MAYER, a gay man.
  • THE MOSTLY UNFABULOUS SOCIAL LIFE OF ETHAN GREEN” by Eric Orner begins to be syndicated in 1989 to alternative and gay newspapers, and is later collected in several volumes.
  • The second gay-related APA, ATDNSIN (THE APA THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME) is founded by Andy Mangels and Roger Klorese in response to 1989′s Gays in Comics panel at the San Diego Comic Con. It has since changed its name to THE APA THAT DARE NOW SPEAK ITS NAME.
  • K.L. & Tom Roberts produce HOMO PATROL, a graphic novel dealing with AIDS and homophobia (Helpless Anger, 1989).
  • John Blackburn first self-publishes his COLEY series (1989), which is later continued and reprinted at Fantagraphics/Eros.
  • CASTRO COMICS, a flip book featuring “Between the Sheets!” by Bruce Billings and “Under the Covers” by Kurt Erichsen is released (Leyland, 1989).
  • Andrea Natalie’s single-panel comic strip “STONEWALL RIOTS” begins (1989) and is soon collected in three books.
  • Two gay-themed horror stories of Clive Barker, “HUMAN REMAINS” and “IN THE HILLS, THE CITIES“, are adapted into comics form in the first two issues of TAPPING THE VEIN (Eclipse, 1989).
  • The COMICS CODE AUTHORITY again revises its standards in 1989, but this time requires that social groups such as homosexuals must be portrayed in a positive light and that derogatory references to sexual orientation are forbidden unless used for dramatic purposes.

One Response to “The 1980s”

  1. […] LGBT Comics Timeline states Sabre had the first gays in a series's supporting cast and the first gay kiss in a mass market comic.  […]

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