• Fatal Attractions: AIDS and American Superhero Comics, 1988-1994

    Author(s):
    Sean Guynes (see profile)
    Date:
    2015
    Group(s):
    GS Comics and Graphic Narratives, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American, MS Visual Culture, TC Popular Culture, TC Sexuality Studies
    Subject(s):
    American history, American literature, Cultural studies
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    AIDS, comics, cultural studies, gay visibility, superhero
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6460F
    Abstract:
    Between 1988 and 1994 American comic books engaged the politics, problematics, and crises of the AIDS epidemic by injecting the virus and its social, cultural, and epidemiological effects on gay men into the four-color fantasies of the superhero genre. As the comic-book industry was undergoing major internal changes that allowed for more mature, adult storylines, creators challenged the Comics Code Authority’s 1954 sanction against the representation of homosexuality to create, for the first time, openly gay characters. Creators’ efforts were driven by a desire to recognize the reality of gay men’s lived experiences, especially crucial in the epidemic time of the AIDS crisis. Through mainstream superhero comic books a small body of conscientious writers and artists confronted stereotypes and misinformation about HIV/AIDS, championed gay men’s rights, and fought homophobia. Comic-book creators developed a complex, sustained, and lively conversation about HIV/AIDS, gay men, and PWAs that was unprecedented both in the history of comic books and of other forms of popular culture.
    Notes:
    Please note that Fig. 4 was improperly formatted by the publisher; as a result, the portion of the image depicting the "Act now!" signs I describe, and to which I ascribe the political rhetoric of AIDS activism, have been unfortunately cropped out.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Journal:
    International Journal of Comic Art
    Volume:
    17
    Issue:
    2
    Start Page:
    177
    End Page:
    216
    Status:
    Published
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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