A numbers of comics companies on both sides of the Atlantic have marked this June as Pride Month with a celebration of difference, welcomed by many.
They included the BEANO, which declared “Beanotown stripes come in every colour, and at Beano we support love and equality for all.
“Keep an eye out for Pride-themed content on Beano.com as we mark Pride online as well as with the Beano team.”
Separately, BEANO has recently made a number of changes reaffirming a commitment toward rejecting past stereotypes, and revising the cover line-up of “The Bash Street Kids” with the addition of new characters.
Sadly, response from some quarters was disappointingly prejudiced, reflecting a world view more akin to cultural attitudes many felt, and rightly feel, the world has moved on from.
Responding to criticism of recent changes, and, in particular, a parody of the “Bash Street Kids” by the Daily Mail, the BEANO has responded by saying it has always been led in what it does by its readers. “They tell us what they want to see and ask us to do better when we don’t get it right.”
The company response on social media implied legal action could be taken. Instead, they decided to donate to the charity Young Minds, presumably rather than pay lawyers to take action, especially since satire for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche is permissible under UK copyright law – and urged readers to do the same.
In the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honour the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, and other countries have since adopted a longer commemoration, including the UK.
The Library of Congress notes the Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States and the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events.
Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognise the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
On the Marvel: House of PRIDE Facebook Group, Jeffrey Bach noted the queer representation in comics, especially the X-Men, has blossomed over the years since Northstar first came out so long ago! “Having such a diverse group of heroes representing a wide spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community is truly wonderful! It makes this gay geek very happy!”
That said, some were not as enthused by comic companies Pride Month initiatives. While enthused by the highlighting of work by LGBTQIA+ creators, writing for AIPT, Madeline Chan expressed some reservations, arguing Pride Month in comics should transcend “rainbow-washing”.
“While special issues and covers themselves are great, comic publishers like Marvel and DC Comics don’t truly follow through in their support for the community,” felt Madeline, “due to a lack of support for and hiring of LGBTQIA2+ creators, blatant censoring, and absence of tactile support like donations. Because of this, they’re partaking in the same rainbow-washing that other companies do.”
Below are just some other celebrations of Pride Month by comic companies creators. Some companies are actively supporting charities.
Amazon-owned digital comics distributor ComiXology has highlighted comics by LGBTQIA+ creators and comics with LGBTQIA+ themes with a Pride Month 2021 Promotion.
DC Pride #1 goes on sale this Wednesday in comic shops, an 80-page anthology comic announced by the publisher in March, featuring LGBTQIA+ characters from across the DC Universe, and Crush & Lobo, launched last week a new eight-issue miniseries written by Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) with art by Amancay Nahuelpan (Nightwing, Wonder Woman). DC will also publish a series of nine Pride themed variant covers in June, showcasing DC’s top characters as realised by the comic book industry’s leading artists.
DC Pride #1 will feature LGBTQIA+ characters from all corners of DC’s ever-expanding Universe, including cameos by fan favorites Batwoman, Renee Montoya, Alan Scott, Midnighter, Apollo, Extraño, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Constantine, and more.
Dark Horse announced it was celebrating Pride Month with new comics and collected editions featuring LGBTQ+ creators, stories, themes, and characters, and published a Pride Month Reading Guide.
Barbalien: Red Planet is out now; The Pride Omnibus and Renegade Rule arrive this month; and Enigma: The Definitive Collection and Killer Queens arrive soon.
Declaring “Happy Pride Month to all”, Europe Comics also published a LGBTQAI+ comics list spanning a variety of genres.
June’s 25th anniversary theme for Image Comics variant covers also celebrates Pride Month, the company stating variants will serve to celebrate the LGBTQ community and the progress made by the Gay Liberation Movement in promoting inclusivity and support for all. 100% of the proceeds made from these June Pride variant covers will be donated to Human Rights Campaign.
“We are so thankful for the opportunity to support the LGBTQ community during Pride Month this year by partnering once again with the Human Rights Campaign,” said Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, earlier this year. “It’s never been a secret that Image Comics is supportive of creative freedom, but it’s important that we also make it clear that we stand for inclusivity, diversity, and equality, now more than ever. We hope these variants will serve as a positive display of that ongoing commitment.”
The team behind the Marvel Contest of Champions game declared “We stand hand in hand with the LGBTQ+ community with Pride! Happy Pride Month to all of our Summoners and Champions!”
Meanwhile, as we previously noted, Marvel announced it was celebrating Pride Month with a new series of variant covers by legendary artist Phil Jimenez, in addition to the release of Voices: Pride 1, their first ever Queer focused comic, on sale in comic shops from 23rd June.
This issue boasts some of the biggest LGBTQ+ creators in the business, like Leah Williams, Keiron Gillen, Olivier Coipel, Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala, Kris Anka, Javier Garron and many more, telling stories about Marvel’s ever growing cast of Queer characters.
Sequential Magazine celebrated Pride Month with an article on Queer Canadian comics history and said more was to come.
Finally, Skybound Entertainment are releasing a line of nine variant covers featuring art by LGBTQI+ creators, and all proceeds from the sales of these Pride Month variant covers, will be donated to the Transgender Law Center, the largest US national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Skybound will continue these charity initiatives throughout the year along with additional actions in support of underrepresented and vulnerable communities.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.