George Pérez Helped Bring Superheroes to Gay Comics

Today, we look at how George Pérez helped to bring superheroes to Gay Comics for its 1993 “Superhero” themed issue.

This is Universal Love, a month-long spotlight on LGBTQ comic book stories that I have enjoyed over the years. This isn’t meant as a “Best Of” list, since there are SW many great works out there, and so I’ll spread the love around a bit, as it were.

This time around, I thought it would be nice to pay a little tribute to the late, great, George Pérez, by spotlighting a piece of art that he did for the cover of the 1993 “Superhero Edition” of Gay Comicswhere Pérez inked JA Fludd on this cool homage of Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum’s iconic cover to Giant-Size X-Men #1.

One of the fascinating things about this cover is that it truly does highlight just how few gay superheroes there were in mainstream comic books in 1993, as this cover depicts pretty much all of them (I’m sure some were missing, but these were basically all of them) – Northstar, Tasmanian Devil, Salu Digby and Ayla Ranzz (formerly Shrinking Violet and Light/ning Lass of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were still only subtext gay at the time, just, you know, like HEAVY subtext ), Pied Piper and Stranger

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Gay Comics began its life as Gay Comix, an annual independent collection of, well, you know, gay comics. Andy Mangels took over the series with #14 and his plans for the series was to make it as mainstream as possible, to bring these amazing gay comic creators to as larger of an audience as possible, as remember, we were right in the middle of a comic book speculator’s boom, and it would be a shame for gay comics to miss out on that boom, so Mangels did a number of attempts to make the book mainstream (while still keeping the quality level of the book high, of course). Part of that movement led to him changing the name from Gay Comix to Gay Comics with #15.

Now, the excellent Robert Triptow, who took over editor duties on Gay Comix from its original editor, the late, great Howard Cruse, had done a superhero issue years earlier, but Triptow’s superhero issue was very different from Mangels’, as you can tell by simply comparing the two covers (Kalynn did the cover for #8) …

Gay Comix #8 was good, but again, a whole other thing and, as noted, I’m spotlighting this one because of the Perez connection.

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One of the interesting aspects of this particular comic is how you can really see who is an actual superhero comic book fan and who isn’t by their stories. For an anthology like this one, these creators just want to get a story in, so once they are told the theme, they’ll typically try to work something up to fit the theme, but seeing some of them struggle with superhero ideas is quite fascinating, while others clearly love doing superhero work.

The great Joan Hilty is obviously one of those creators who love superheroes and she uses the opening story for the origin of her superhero, Immola, who we see meeting a bunch of superheroes at a sort of superhero support group before going on her first mission as a superhero where she impressed the fellow hero she met that night (and spent most of the night together) with how quickly she adapted to her superheroing ways…

Robert Kirby, one of the creators who really wasn’t interested in writing about superheroes, has an excellent story where he reflects on his assumption that gay guys liked superheroes for the same reason he did as a kid, that they were hot guys in spandex . He instead discovers Wonder Woman’s place de ella as a gay icon as he talks about superheroes with his friends de ella …

This is especially timely today as Lynda Carter has been getting guff on social media for her very obvious statements about Wonder Woman’s role as a gay icon (which, again, is VERY OBVIOUS and HAS BEEN very obvious for MANY years).

Jennifer Camper has a funny story about what happens when a superhero has to find a “real” job and she finds these jobs demeaning and, well, since she has superpowers…

Julie Franki delivers a delightful story about female superheroes in a story cheekily titled “Babequest”…

Editor Andy Mangels, also clearly one of the creators involved in this issue who loves superheroes, does a fun superhero team-up (with art by JA Fludd) of Mangels’ gay superhero character, Sentinel, teaming up with an older superhero who was forced out of the superhero game in the 1950s because she was a lesbian…

Finally, the always amazing Roberta Gregory, clearly one of the creators who wasn’t jumping up and down to do a superhero-themed tale, comes through with a charming but poignant tale about what kind of superhero that she would like to be, and in her case, she wishes that she would be able to have empathy-vision to help deal with all of the awful homophobic people in the world…

It’s a wonderful sentiment, very well-expressed.

There were a bunch of other stories in this volume that were good, but I can’t very well show you EVERY story. This is well worth a look through the back issue bins to find (or, of course, this being the year 2022 and not 1996, eBay). Mangels really did a wonderful job with Gay Comics. I spotlighted a number of his issues of the series last time I did Universal Love and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more pop up in the future.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a great LGBTQ comic book, feel free to send in suggestions to me at!

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