Comics Timeline

 **Spoiler Warning** Obviously there are spoilers here of which characters are LGBTQ. I also occasionally include relevant comments about where relationships go, including--in a very few cases--when a character gets "fridged" (killed). It should also be noted that there's one rather NSFW image in the 2000-present timeline that is unavoidable because it is the image itself that is relevant, not the character or dialogue.

**Trigger Warning** In the 80's and 90's, there are a few depictions of rape and attempted rapes, inflicted on men by other men. Because of the ongoing association with rapists that members of the LGBTQ community have to face, I consider including these issues necessary. There are also depictions across all of the timelines of gay bashings and assaults on LGBTQ people because of their orientation or gender identity.

This is an incomplete and ongoing representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer inclusion in comic books.  In an effort to be a little more systematic in how I am approaching the timeline, I will try to keep an updated list of inclusion and exclusion criteria.  See down at the bottom of the page for this information.

Of course, I am indebted to the work done by others before me, especially:
Gay League
World of Black Heroes
Prism Comics
Lambda Literary
Transgender Graphics and Fiction Archive
Out in Comics
Andy Mangels' definitive 1988 articles in Amazing Heroes on the topic of gays in comics up to that time (Part I, Part II)
CBR's four-part series "Homosexuality in Comics" (Part I, II, III, IV)
...and many more.

If you would prefer a full screen view (and trust me, you do): Before 1990, 1990-1999, and 2000-present.

Before 1990: 1990-1999: 2000 - Present:

This is a graph of the number of "significant" queer issues published each year, from 1958 to 2014. This includes all issue in the above timeline (~160), as well as those issues I am aware of but have yet to purchase (~200). It is intended only to give you an idea of the progressive--yet uneven--increase in queer representations in comic books. The data are otherwise of questionable value, as they do not take into account multiple appearances of the same character.

Inclusion Criteria:
  • Item is a comic book, graphic novel, or magazine that is primarily focused on graphic fiction
    • Starting with Scott McCloud's definition of "comics": “Comics are juxtaposed pictorial and other images in a deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”
    • This definition is then restricted by the following criteria
  • AND was originally or "most-notably" published in a printed form, with multiple bound pages.
    • This is an awkward, form-factor criterion
  • AND was published in English
    • AND includes a character who is explicitly or implicitly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or otherwise non-gender-conforming
      • Does not matter whether this is character or identity is ongoing or only lasts for the duration of the issue.
      • Implicitly identified LGBTQ characters are those that are coded as such.  "Coded" means that the character has certain features that are stereotypically associated with LGBTQ people and thus can be interpreted as such.
      • OR the issue/book in question has generated media or popular interest in itself based on a transgression of cisgender heternormativity.
        • Example: Saga #12 resulted in significant media attention because of a graphic depiction of gay sex unrelated to any character in the issue.
    • AND I currently own a copy of it
      • This is probably the hardest one to justify, but this project is as much for my own entertainment as for any educational purposes. Sorry.
    Exclusion Criteria:
    • Comic strips
      • Defined as the subset of "comics" that are originally or most-notably published in a serialized manner in magazines and/or newspapers and include panels on only a single printed page.
    • Web comics
      • Defined as "comics" printed originally or "most-notably" in a digital format
    • Zines/fanzines 
    • Manga
      • This is a completely arbitrary choice to limit the scope of the timeline to something more manageable. There may be periodic exceptions to this criteria that I will list here, and I may drop the rule entirely in the future.
    • The issue features an LGBTQ/gender-transgressive character, who has already been outed as such, in a way that is not substantially different from earlier portrayals AND has failed to gain any new media exposure or rise in public attention because of the issue in question.
      • This essentially means that I exclude issues from ongoing series featuring queer characters unless something significant occurs, like Wiccan and and Hulking's proposal.

    Fair Use Claim: The copyright of all images here belongs to the publisher and/or the writer(s) and/or artist(s). Please see individual issues for specific copyright information.  The images here comprise only a small part of the total work. I believe their use to be essential to convey the intent of the issues/books and the often subtle cues that are used to indicate characters' sexuality or gender identity.  No free alternatives exist or can be created. Their use here does not impinge on the copyright owners' right to sell the issues depicted.  

    Please do not sue me. Pretty please.


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