Pre-Stonewall

  • The ambiguously gendered “KRAZY KAT” by George Herriman appears in his own newspaper strip starting July 26, 1916 and runs until 1944.
  • TIJUANA BIBLES, small-sized comics featuring big-name cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Archie in all kinds of sexual situations, including homosexual ones, illegally circulated from the 1930s through the 1950s, and have been collected and reprinted more recently.
  • MADAME FATAL,” a man who fights crime dressed as an elderly woman, first appears in CRACK COMICS #1 (Quality, May 1940), and in the next 21 issues.
  • SCHOOL DAY ROMANCES #4 (Star, May-June 1950) features a story in the ongoing “TONI GAY” series featuring Butch Dykeman.
  • In response to public demonstrations, Senate hearings, and Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, most of the major comic companies form the COMICS CODE AUTHORITY in 1954 to regulate their content. According to the CCA Standards, “sex perversion of any inference to same is forbidden.”
  • TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen)’s homo-erotic drawings begin to appear in physique magazines beginning with the cover of Physique Pictorial (Spring 1957).
  • In the intriguing short story “THE MAN WHO STEPPED OUT FROM A CLOUD” in OUT OF THIS WORLD #5 (Charlton, September 1957) an alien takes a shy, introverted boy to his home planet, which seemingly only consists of men, until he has grown to maturity and can decide for himself the kind of life he wants to lead, there or on Earth.
  • Jimmy Olsen dons drag for the first time in “MISS JIMMY OLSEN,” SUPERMAN’s PAL JIMMY OLSEN #44 (DC, April 1960), and again several times over the next few years.
  • A. Jay (Al Shapiro) begins his “HARRY CHESS: THAT MAN FROM A.U.N.T.I.E.“strip in Drum magazine (April 1965), and it is later collected and featured in MEATMEN and other publications.
  • Joe Brainard creates C COMICS, a mimeographed anthology in which he collaborates with New York school associated poets John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Dick Gallup, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank Lima, Jimmy Schuyler, Frank O”Hara, Kenward Elmslie, Peter Schjeldahl, Tony Towle, and Ron Padgett. The first issue is published in 1964, exact date unknown and the final issue follows in 1965. O’Hara and Brainard’s “HARD TIMES” strip is about a naked male, fine arts major who is so narcissistic that he finds something of himself in every piece of fine art. His genitals are drawn in one panel. Brainard would collaborate on several other art comics in the next few years. [JP]
  • Joe Johnson’s strips “MISS THING” and “BIG DICK” briefly run in The Advocate magazine (ca. 1965).
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