Tagged: Archie Comics

Ed Catto: Returning to Riverdale

Riverdale returns to the CW Wednesday night. The second season promises more of the guilty pleasures served up in this surprisingly fun take of the Archie gang. It’s been wicked fun and I’m encouraged that it’s such a big hit.

Archie has had success in media beyond comics before Riverdale. There was an Archie radio show in the 40s and 50s. It’s a tough one to sit through, even for an old-time radio buff like me. Filmation Studios provided year after year of Archie cartoons for Saturday mornings, starting with The Archie Show and continuing with many spin-offs and sequels. And there have been several TV and movie fits and starts over the years, most notably the early 90s Return to Riverdale.

I graduated from UNC’s Business School about that time, and although I would embark on a traditional marketing career, even then I was looking for a way to blend my traditional marketing skills with Geek Culture. It wasn’t until years later, when I co-founded Captain Action Enterprises and the Bonfire Agency, that I would successfully do it. So while I was interviewing with Lever Bros., P&G and Kraft for traditional MBA marketing jobs, I also arranged an interview with the Chairman of Archie Comics.

I was invited to Archie’s Mamaroneck headquarters. In hindsight, I now know that my interview was about ten years too early. In those days, few could envision how important the business of Geek Culture would become. But one of the big topics we discussed was all about making the brand bigger with a made-for-TV-movie called Return to Riverdale. There were a lot of hopes and dreams dashed as a result of that tepidly received show.

So it’s all the better that the new CW Riverdale series show is such a hit. I’ve enjoyed watching it so far. I was very surprised, when sorting through my pal Freddie’s comic collection (more on that here) to come across one particular letter in a tattered copy of Archie Annual #15 from 1963.

As you can see, one of the cast members of an Archie pilot engaged in a little promotion, combined with pleading for swag from the Archie Comics powers-that-be. Wayne Adams, the actor who would play Reggie, is almost in character.

It’s a crazy look back at how things were done in the early days of what would get labeled transmedia. Today folks would try to accomplish the same thing with a well-orchestrated mix of social media and PR.

Which Witch is Which?

Beyond the clique of Riverdale High’s most popular students, it’s been reported that Sabrina may be joining the gang on the small screen. I think that’s great. I’ve been enjoying the very creepy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic series by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack, upon which the show is reportedly based.

I was introduced to this platinum beauty when she was cast as the “love interest” in what was essentially the Sugar, Sugar music video. We didn’t really call them music videos in those days but all the cool cartoons would feature chase scenes or spotlight songs within the framework of the larger cartoon. As I got older, it always seemed to me that all these quick-cut montages were an outgrowth of Richard Lester’s Hard Day’s Night.

Sabrina has had many incarnations over the years, but she debuted in Madhouse #22 along with her familiar Salem and her supporting cast. For years she was sort of a Bewitched type character with one foot in Archie’s neighborhood. She’d later leave the Archie style behind to become a stylized young girl and even an anime-esqe heroine. Sabrina was most widely seen in the long running ABC series starring Mellissa Joan Hart, of course.

But I’m really interested in Sabrina’s earlier walk on the wild side. In 1972, Archie Comics tepidly introduced the Red Circle line with a comic called Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told by Sabrina. Here Sabrina played the role of the spooky narrator. In comics, there is a rich and long tradition of horror hosts introducing macabre tales. During the first two issues, Sabrina would dutifully introduce watered down ghost stories. They were essentially EC comics by way of the Archie line’s house style.

By issue #3, it all changed. Each issue featured genuinely spooky stories, in the classic horror comics traditional, by top talents like Gray Morrow and Alex Toth. The Archie house style was thrown out the window, unfortunately along with Sabrina.

But the precedent was set. I’m leaving the lights on when CW does introduce this spooky Sabrina show.

Tweeks: Riverdale Cast Interviews

As you know, Anya is a huge fan of the Archie comics (those were her comics gateway drug) and she also fangirls hard over CW teen dramas, so Riverdale, premiering on The CW January 26, 2017, is kind of a big deal.

It’s a dark, film noir, take on the characters from Archie comics written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Greg Berlanti. In the pilot, Cheryl Blossom’s twin brother is murdered and they need to find out why. Jughead narrates the show and there’s of course a love triangle between Betty/Veronica/Archie. But there’s also a music component with Archie starting a band that seems to clash with Josie and the Pussycats.

At Comic-Con, Anya was able to sit down with the cast to ask about the show and here’s the interview. There are some really great bits in there. Like K.J. Aga (Archie) has a cute New Zealand accent and Luke Perry (Fred Andrews) is totally what you’d expect of the guy who played Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills. And speaking of actors on old shows we love, Cole Sprouse (Jughead) talks about why he returned to acting for this role and proves to be a total comic nerd.

What we’re really looking forward to on Riverdale is that strong feminist vibe in this version. Well, at least that’s what Camila Mendes (Veronica), Lili Reinhard (Betty), Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl Blossom) and Ashleigh Murray (Josie) seem to be saying. There’s a lot about the pressure to be perfect and topics that will really speak to teen girls today.

Watch the press table interviews and the trailer and tell us what you think!

 

Martha Thomases: We’re A Happy Family!

ramones archie

Ah, the dog days of August. Carefree times when our only worries are going outside where we might sweat to death or staying inside and being driven insane.

Luckily, we have each other, right? We can band together and support our shared passions, especially as they relate to pop culture, can’t we? Isn’t that why we have the Internet?

Well, sure, unless you’re a woman, queer, a person of color, or a member of some other group of random people that someone decides to insult gratuitously and, usually anonymously. The most high-profile recent example is what happened to Leslie Jones, but there are a zillion others we can cite.

Up until now, there is nothing anyone could do about it except ignore it, and shudder in despair at the hatred that eats away at certain human souls. And, when it gets personally threatening, tell the police and take out a restraining order, if possible.

However, there may be hope that haters will no longer be able to hide behind a fake user name. Technology might be able to discover which anonymous trolls actually are in real life. We will, virtually if not actually, tell their moms how badly they behave.

Let me be clear here. I’m all for freedom of speech. You can say anything you like, no matter how hateful. However, if you don’t say out loud it in public, or if you don’t sign your name on media, I will think you are a weasel and a coward and deserve to be ridiculed. And if you make credible personal physical threats, the law says you have moved beyond free speech and into criminal activity.

Look, I understand baseless rage. I feel it several times a day. It’s a characteristic we all share, proof of our inner two-year-olds. Is the line too long at the ATM? Is my food delivery delayed? Does my elevator stop at every floor? Is it hot in the subway station? All these things make me want to rant and rave and call people horrible, abusive names.

But I don’t. I’m an adult. And my inner two-year-old is properly terrified that my inner Mom will yell at her.

That’s maturity.

Mine will be tested this fall, when Archie Comics publishes Archie Meets the Ramones. One of my pet peeves is that many more people now claim to be Ramones fans than ever supported them in the late 1970s or 1980s, when they could have used the money. They couldn’t even get radio play. And now AT&T uses their songs to sell their wireless service and most of the Ramones are dead.

I went to see them a lot when I was young enough to go out at night. And I took as many people with me as I could, famous and not. Those memories not only bring me pleasure, but they contribute to my sense of self.

I sure as hell never saw Archie Andrews and his ilk at CBGBs. Nor, despite what the actual story might depict, did I see his father, either.

So, perhaps in a way that might provide me with some empathy for those who don’t want anyone to remake Ghostbusters, I’m skeptical of this. I don’t know if it will seem true to me in the ways that the best fiction is true.

And then I remember how much the band liked comic books, and how much they probably would love being in an Archie comic, and I try to let go of my resentment.

I’m not promising to love the story when it comes out, but I promise not to anonymously make threats about its creative team on the Internet.

Mike Gold: Archie Is Too Cool For Words

ramones wide

Lately, my Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind kickass rock and blues Internet radio show has spilled over into my ComicMix column. But it’s hard for me to restrain myself, and besides, self-restraint isn’t exactly my long suit.

Since every living person, as well as the estates of many of the dead, makes all kinds of “big” announcements at SDCC, the smart people (Hi, Martha!) make their big announcements the week before the show. They’ll get better exposure in the online comics news sites, and this year they avoid having to compete for attention with a 70-year old Creamsicle media hog with severe bigotry issues.

Ramones & ArchieSo our friends at Archie Comics cleverly chose last week to announce their latest bizarre crossover, Archie Meets The Ramones. This past decade or so, Archie Comics (as opposed to the character, Archie Andrews) have been the most innovative and risk-taking of the Original Comics Publishers. Archie has methodically testing new concepts, new interpretations of their characters, super and non, and new ways of running their company to provide the revenue to launch such projects. I think I read all of their new-material comics save their Sonic the Hedgehog line, and I like what they’re doing.

They’ve done unusual crossovers before – Archie Meets The Punisher probably is the one best-known to the ComicMix audience. They’ve done rock’n’roll based crossovers before. But linking up with The Ramones is a whole ‘nother matter. The Ramones were part of the vanguard of the punk rock movement that they, in fact, started back in 1974. It was and remains as exciting and as vital to the form as the blues/folk/hippie rock from the previous decade. One might not think the Ramones to be a good fit with the Riverdale crew, and I highly suspect that previous (and older) management teams might have felt the same way.

Riskier still is the fact that almost all of the original Ramones are dead. They ran until 1996. Joey Ramone died in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone died in 2002, Johnny Ramone died in 2004, and Tommy Ramone died in 2014. Two important notes: First, the “Ramone” surname was contrived; they were no more related to each other than were the Doobie Brothers. Second, they were not the most doomed band in rock history. That privilege goes to Beatles protégés Badfinger; I mean them no disrespect by avoiding the specifics. Wiki’s got them just fine.

Let us not be confused by the fact that one of Archie Comics’ more popular titles is called Afterlife With Archie. Evidently, Riverdale’s typical teen-agers indulge in some serious time-travel. Comics fans get that. Rock fans get that. Your grandparents; probably not. They’ve been working on understanding Doctor Who since 1963.

Archie Meets The Ramones is a very, very clever concept. And it sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll see on October 5th.

The Ramones, The Punisher, KISS, Predator, Glee, Sharknado… Where does Archie go for its next unlikely team-up? Way back in the mid-1980s I whimsically suggested to then-publisher Michael Silberkleit we do a Betty and Veronica / American Flagg! mini-series. He immediately agreed; I suspect he was more familiar with Flagg!’s sales than with its content. But I can’t tell you how much I wanted to see how far I could push that one.

Sigh. Maturity sucks.

So, next time I think Archie and the band should go back in time once again and team-up with the MC5. I’m dying to see what Wayne Kramer www.waynekramer.com would say to Forsythe P. Jones – and vice versa. Maybe Brian Bendis can get a waiver from Marvel; his dialogue skills would work well here. Maybe John Sinclair could offer Juggie a… cigarette.

Yeah. Google that, chillen!

Supergirl Flies To Archie’s House

supergirl

If you are one of the confused masses who have been wondering why Supergirl was on CBS and not on the CW, stop wondering. Everybody decided the CBS thing was a mistake, and Supergirl will be joining Arrow, The Flash and probably Legends of Tomorrow on the mini-network next season. Which is this fall. Still confused? Hey, Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Aside from her DC comrades, Supergirl won’t be alone.  She will be joining Archie, Veronica, Jughead, Kevin and Betty in a new series, Riverdale, which is based upon the current crop of rebooted Archie titles. Yep, the CW is the official comics network.

In addition to their four-color roots, Supergirl and Riverdale have something in common with Arrow and the rest. All are produced by Greg Berlanti, a man so successful he could get a show based upon a can of singing worms on the CW. It should be noted that CBS owns a piece of the CW, and Warner Bros. – owner of Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, and the sundry Legends of Tomorrow – owns the rest, outside of a sliver owned by WGN. Unless WGN sold off to finance their own new superstation shows.

It should also be noted that Supergirl was CBS’s #1 rated new series for the last season, although its audience share has dropped off noticeably. However, it’s big on DVRs, where people zip through the commercials. The show had one of the highest license fees for a new program, so, in addition to moving to the CW, Supergirl is also moving production from Los Angeles to Vancouver, a less expensive venue and the home to the other DC teevee shows. So I guess everybody is happy.

The episode where The Flash visited Supergirl and friends did quite well, and the move (both to the CW and to Vancouver) should make future ratings-boosting crossovers more available,

No word yet on when the new season starts.

 

 

Joe Corallo: Greater Queerness

kevin-keller-it-gets-better2Over the last week or so, we’ve seen two positive affirmations of the greater queer community at two of the biggest comic franchises. Over at Archie Comics, Jughead is officially asexual. Down at Marvel, the pansexual Deadpool crushed box office records for an R rated movie at the box office. Will these queer portrayals in comic culture start a push for better and more complex looks into the sexualities of the characters we read and watch, or are we in for more of the same?

Let’s start with Archie. For years, Archie Comics has been slowly reinventing itself. With the help of creators like Dan Parent, the openly gay Kevin Keller has been a breakout student down in Riverdale. Following some years later, Chip Zdarsky has Jughead officially come out as asexual. I think it was an interesting choice having Kevin Keller be the one to use the word asexual in conversation with Jughead, rather than Jughead use the word himself, as a way of seeming to carry the tradition on from one character on the queer spectrum to another. And the way the conversation went did so without taking away from Jughead’s agency, unlike Marvel’s poor handling of Iceman being outed in All-New X-Men nearly a year ago.

I applaud Archie Comics and Chip Zdarksy for expanding its representation to this sexual orientation minority. Asexuality is something that both inside and outside the queer community has been argued over and is often misunderstood. Asexuality manifests in different ways for different people. For Jughead, he also identifies himself as aromantic, which is perfectly fine. Not all asexuals are aromantic. Asexuals don’t necessarily have an entirely non-existent sex drive. They may just have a low sex drive. They may end up in a monogamous relationship with an opposite sex or same sex partner where they may engage in sexual activity. That doesn’t mean they aren’t asexual. Just like when a bisexual person is in a monogamous relationship, that doesn’t suddenly mean they aren’t attracted to the opposite gender of their partner. And no, it is never, ever, ever your job to try to help them see that sex is great and they’re missing out. Ever. Never ever. Please always remember that.

kevin-keller-first-kissThis isn’t something I immediately knew and understood at a young age. It took time. I remember as a teenager on the internet in the late 90s to early 2000s checking out sites like the now defunct xy.com and chatting with a few men who identified as asexual. At the time, I thought if they weren’t sexually attracted to the same sex they wouldn’t be here, and that they were repressed and looking for someone to help them come to terms with their sexuality. That was wrong of me and I understand that now.

Some of the arguments and tension towards the asexual segment of the queer community comes not only from some of the misunderstandings, but it also comes from asexual treatment in our society and laws versus treatment of people in the LGBT community. The asexual community hasn’t necessarily in the minds of other people been affected the same way by our laws. That’s not entirely true in that an asexual who is not also aromantic could have potentially been denied the ability to marry who they wanted until recently, as well as being affected by other homophobic or transphobic laws on the books.

Asexuals also have to deal with societal pressures like most people in the queer community do. I certainly can relate to being in uncomfortable conversations with people that were aggressively heterosexual in nature when I was younger, either not out or not as confident at the time and not being sure how to handle the situation. Not to mention the conversations about how you need to have hetero sex before you can rule it out. Again, please don’t tell people they need to have sex to understand themselves and especially never imply to people that you are the one they should be having sex with in that scenario.

Moving on to Deadpool, I’ve mentioned in at least a few of my previous columns that although Deadpool is being billed as the first pansexual superhero in a major motion picture, that we have to wait and see how that ends up being handled. My fear was that most of Deadpool’s behavior that falls outside of the heteronormative would end up being joke fodder. I was at least partially right.

This isn’t really a spoiler for anything major in the movie, but if you’re avoiding anything regarding details in the Deadpool movie (or want to avoid the kind of vulgar subject matter that conspires in the movie) you may wanna skip the next paragraph.

Now that we got that out of the way, here’s the deal. We do see Deadpool engage in some behavior that’s considered outside the norm. He’s confident in himself, his sexuality, and it doesn’t make him any less of a powerful and threatening character. However, most of the instances when he’s doing something outside the heteronormative, it’s a joke. When he’s with his girlfriend they have a montage of different holidays they have sex on. For International Women’s Day, she ends up pegging him. It’s played for laughs. Other instances including kissing a pizza delivery boy on the cheek after threatening him, and complimenting his male taxi driver. This doesn’t necessarily help all that much in terms in pansexual representation.

If sexuality outside the norm is played purely for laughs, it’s just a joke and it’s not about being inclusive. That’s not also to say that we shouldn’t have any fun with sex and sexuality either. And I will give Deadpool credit in that it’s good to see more heroes who have less traditional sexualities and can help combat the dated and offensive notion that queer people are somehow weaker and can’t be taken seriously. More and more characters in nerd culture like Doctor Who’s Captain Jack Harkness have been coming out and combating this for years now, but stereotypes are damaging and linger.

Between Jughead and Deadpool in this last week, I feel that it was one of the best weeks for greater queer representation in comics and comic culture. Sexuality is not black and white, and I think these characters and the stories being told with them in comic culture are helping to show that sexuality is complicated, fluid, and can’t truly be encompassed by a single word.

Oh, and it can be profitable at the box office too.

Martha Thomases: Jughead’s Sex Life

Jughead Asexual 1This column is going to make me sound old.  Really really really old.

In the new issue of Jughead by Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson, Jughead comes out as asexual.  As I write this, it hasn’t yet appeared on the stands, but I’ve loved the series so far and I’m really looking forward to it.  Still, the news sent me on a tour of the Internet to exciting new avenues of political correctness.

(Note:  I want to be politically correct here.  I am trying to understand people who are new to me, and I want to be polite and respectful.)

The first thing I found out is that this isn’t even really news.  Comicbook.com had the story way back on September 25.  My first reaction was surprise that this didn’t show up on any of my feeds at that time.  My second reaction was admiration for Archie’s publicist for getting two hits with the story.

The next thing I learned is that I didn’t really understand what asexual meant.  I thought it just meant a person who wasn’t interested in sex.  I was wrong.  If you read the link (and it’s fascinating), you’ll see that identifying as asexual is much more complicated than my initial assumption.

As most things are.

Jughead Asexual 2Living life and meeting people is the easiest and most fun way to have one’s assumptions challenged. When I was a kid, society told me that homosexuality was a perversion indulged in by people who were too immature to form meaningful relationships.  I learned differently when I met actual gay and lesbian people.  Society told me that sex was only for reproduction, and that it was something only men liked, something that good girls only did so they could have babies.  I learned differently when my own hormones kicked in, and feminism became a thing.  Society told me that transgender people had extreme cases of body dysmorphia.  This is a case where society not only told me the wrong thing, but actual science has made it possible for there to be emotionally healthy alternatives to “just learning to live with it.”

And just in researching this column, I found out about skoliosexuals, about whom I was completely ignorant.  I look forward to maybe meeting some and having even more of my assumptions shattered.

At the same these changes in social attitudes happened, comic books grew up.  My childhood was filled with stories about Lois Lane wanting Superman to give her a “super-kiss.” Characters might wear revealing costumes, but they were all chaste.  It wasn’t until underground comix, and then the direct market, that a mass market saw comic book characters who had adult relationships with adults.

(Note:  Yes, it is my opinion that an awful lot of comic books are still smarmy and giggly about sex.  So are most humans.  Alas.)

This week, we’re seeing a comic book character who is shocking because of his lack of interest in sex.  He is being written (I think, based on the few pages I’ve seen) respectfully, as a character, not a caricature like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.

(Is Sheldon supposed to be asexual?  Or is he supposed to just be really repressed?  Or don’t the writers even think about such things when all they want is a laugh?)

As an old person, I find myself looking at Jughead indulgently, thinking that as a teenager, his sexuality is probably at its most fluid, and that he might just be going through a stage.

And then I realize what I sound like, and try to shut up.

Mike Gold: TV Comics – Room For Another?

Riverdale

This is the time of year when the broadcast networks start to reveal their pilots for the upcoming fall season. The fact that the broadcast networks still think in terms of a “fall season” is simply adorable.

The greatest contribution given to us by the American broadcasting industry is their reimagination of the rubber stamp. So we’ve got a few spin-offs of presently successful comics shows – ABC is toying with a show featuring Mockingbird as an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. castoff, and NBC is considering a show called Powerless about superpowerless wannabes who work at an insurance company. Yes, you’re right: we used to call superpowerless people “people.” Now they’re “powerless.” If this one hits air, it might be renamed “Super-Ability Challenged Beings.”

By the way, I hate the word “reimagine” so much that I’m going to start calling it the “I-word.”

So. How many comics-spawn teevee shows can we squeeze into our lives? Surprisingly – well, at least I’m surprised – at least one more.

The CW is shooting a pilot called Riverdale, staring the brand-new, modernized, more realistic, more plot-driven Archie Comics stalwarts. If, like me, you have no life outside of pop culture you might remember this show being under development with Fox. Well, they punted and, quite frankly, the CW is clearly a better fit.

According to the hype, Riverdale is “a surprising and subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica and their friends” – I guess this means somebody is going to miss her period – “exploring the surrealism of small town life, the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.” OK, so this show is likely to be less realistic than, say, The Gilmore Girls.

One of the folks responsible for the recent editorial growth over at Archie Comics is their chief creative officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. He’s also worked on Supergirl, Big Love and Glee. Roberto’s an executive producer of this teevee show. Having a comics person with media chops in a supervisory position on such a program is de rigueur, and it’s a very good sign. So is having Jon Goldwater on board – he’s Archie Comics’ CEO and his family has been steering the Good Ship Archie since the original carrot-top’s creation 75 years ago. Jon can protect the family jewels, and that puts Archie one up on DC and Marvel.

The fact that Greg Berlanti is another executive producer and Riverdale comes from Berlanti Productions is… well… the obvious choice. Berlanti has more comics-related teevee shows on the air than Carter had little liver pills. He produces Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. He also wrote the Green Lantern movie, but we won’t hold that against him. He is, or at least was, attached to the The Flash movie that is unrelated to his The Flash teevee series.

Yeah, I’m intrigued. I’d like to see a teen comedy that speaks to our times. Oddly, the first show that did this was The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which Archie Comics felt was a direct rip-off of their property. I can debate that point, but this isn’t the time for that. However, I will say that show contained Warren Beatty’s finest performances.

We’ll see if the CW picks Riverdale up. I just hope that sooner or later they get around to adding Cosmo the Merry Martian to the cast.

John Ostrander: Paving The Way

Kevin KellerFriday was a landmark day for this country. The Supreme Court effectively said that same sex marriage was legal in all 50 states. In doing that, they reflected the views of American citizens: 63% of us have said they think same sex marriage should be legal. It’s been a majority opinion since 2010 when a CNN poll first reported it.

This would have been unthinkable just a few years before that. Part of the change is due to our own pop culture. Depictions of LGBT individuals have proliferated over the years. Think of the uproar when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian back in 1997 with her character on her sit-com, Ellen, also coming out a short time later. The uproar that followed!

Contrast that with her talk show that started seven years later. She has also hosted the Academy Awards, the Grammys, and the Primetime Emmys. She’s been a hugely successful stand up comedienne. She was the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo. She’s beloved today.

And she changed peoples’ perceptions of LGBT. She was in peoples’ homes, in their living rooms, on the TV. TV is a member of the family in most households and, by extension, so are the people who are on it. She wasn’t alien; she was human and she made us recognize that.

In 1998, Will and Grace premiered on NBC starring Eric McCormack and Debra Messing as a gay man and his straight female friend. (McCormack, it should be noted, is not gay; that’s why they call it acting, folks.) It was hugely successful during its eight seasons. And it dealt with many LGBT issues, dramatizing them for the American audience. It made people aware of LGBT people and the fact that they were people. The sexual orientation might be different but so many other concerns and likes mirrored everyone else.

In 2003, Queer Eye (for the Straight Guy) debuted in which five gay men would do a make-over of a straight man, including where he lived, what he wore, what he ate, how he looked, and even how he acted. Some felt the Fab Five (as Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez were collectively known) were stereotypes and it’s true that the show never got into the Fab Five other than their on-air personalities. Nor did we see them with significant others.

I think that misses a big point. Queer Eye, like the other two shows, was welcomed into the general public’s living room. So many people didn’t know anyone who was gay (or didn’t know that they knew someone who was gay) suddenly knew a few. And liked them. And weren’t threatened by them.

They – as well as Ellen and Will and Grace – also gave to other LGBT, including young ones, people to admire and look up to. Someone to identify with. They were no longer alone.

There have been gay and lesbian characters in comics, though not as prevalent as other media. I worked in some gay issues and characters in both The Spectre and Suicide Squad. In the latter, a mechanic in the support team for the Squad (Mitch Sekofsky) was a gay father.

There have been LGBT characters at different companies. Marvel has had Northstar, Wildstorm/DC has Midnight and Apollo, Batwoman, Rene Montoya, and many others. Archie Comics (Archie Comics?!) famously introduced an openly gay character in Kevin Keller in his own mini-series and digests and the issue where he got married to his boyfriend sold hugely. The Buffy comic series, following up on the very popular TV series has several lesbian characters. Buffy herself experimented in a one-night stand with another woman.

There have also been any number of open LGBT creators, artists, and writers in comics. Some, like Howard Cruise, have openly explored gay themes in their work. Others simply work in comics and write all kinds of characters with all kinds of themes. Their life experience, who they are, informs their work, as my life experience informs mine. That’s called being human.

Pop culture has had a significant role in changing public perceptions of LGBT. Not perfectly. Pop culture more often reflects public perception rather than shapes it. However, it can open eyes, not by confronting but rather by showing us that LGBT people are, well, people like you and me.