Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jules Feiffer's Superheroes Week: On boy companions, and the gayness of the Dynamic Duo

Here's what Jules Feiffer had to say about sidekicks in The Great Comic Book Heroes:

"I couldn’t stand boy companions. If the theory behind Robin the Boy Wonder, Roy the Superboy, The Sandman's Sandy, The Shield's Rusty, The Human Torch's Toro, The Green Arrow's Speedy was to give young readers a character with whom to identify if failed dismally in my case. The super grownups were the ones I identified with. They were versions of me in the future. There was still time to prepare. But Robin the Boy Wonder was my own age. One need only look at him to see he could fight better, swing from a rope better, play ball better, eat better, and live better—for while I lived in the east Bronx, Robin lived in a mansion, and while I was trying, somehow, to please my mother—and getting it all wrong—Robin was rescuing Batman and getting the gold medals…

"He was obviously an 'A' student, the center of every circle, the one picked for greatness in the crowd—God, how I hated him. You can imagine how pleased I was when, years later, I heard he was a fag… "

Feiffer was kidding, of course. He goes on to bring up Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, quoting an oft-quoted passage about how Batman and Robin's lifestyle was "like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together."

Feiffer doesn't agree, despite the fact that the young Feiffer had no real love for Robin. Wrote Feiffer: “Batman and Robin were no more or less queer than were their youngish readers, many of whom palled around together, didn’t trust girls, played games that had lots of bodily contact, and from similar surface evidence were more or less queer."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite parts of that essay. Sheer hilarity!