May 12, 2015

Bugs and Porky meet a Drag King: Warner Brothers Comics

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my favorite comic titles were Harvey (gay-vague Casper the Friendly Ghost), Disney, Archie, and the Gold Key jungle adventures.

Comics featuring Warner Brothers cartoon characters Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Bugs Bunny were low on my list.

The art was amateurish, with minimal backgrounds, or just blank space (this is one of the best covers).

The plots were boring slapstick.

And instead of the anarchic outsiders of the cartoons, the characters were stable, stolid suburbanites, with houses and jobs and girlfriends. Porky was a single dad, raising his nephew, Cicero.

But sometimes Bugs and Porky or Yosemite Sam teamed up for adventure stories.  Maybe they stumbled upon a haunted inn.  Or they answered a job ad for "undersea explorers"  Or a telegram arrived about "trouble at the ranch."  Buddy-bonding, captures, and nick-of-time rescues followed.

A continuing series had Bugs and Porky working as Indiana Jones-style adventurer-archaeologists, investigating the myth of Pegasus or discovering a lost civilization hidden under the ice of Antartica.  With no girlfriends in sight, and no damsels in distress to be won.




Even when there was no buddy-bonding, the adventure stories offered opportunities for gay misreadings.  In "The Kingdom of Nowhere" (Porky Pig 4, 1965),  Porky wins a contest to re-name a Medieval kingdom (he suggests Boovaria).  But he must fight the other winner, the Black Knight.

When I first read the story, probably in my boyfriend Bill's room in third grade, I didn't realize that this small, short-haired person grabbing the king's rump was supposed to be the queen.  I thought he had a tiny boyfriend.

When Porky and the Black Knight learn that, as an added bonus, the winner will marry the Princess,  they drop out of the contest and run away.  Porky, because he already has a girlfriend.

But why does the Black Knight run away?  Could it be that he doesn't particularly care for girls?





Later we get an explanation: the Black Knight was really his girlfriend Petunia in drag!  Porky exclaims "No wonder you weren't interested in winning the hand of the princess!"

But this quick-fix doesn't detract from the image of a boy not interested in girls.

And it adds a new question: why, precisely, did Petunia disguise herself as a man?

For that matter, why are Bugs and Porky so comfortable in drag?

See also: Andy Panda and Woody Woodpecker.