Sep 4, 2016

The Gay Adventures of Jerry Lewis

When I was growing up, every summer and sometimes at Christmastime, we drove 300 miles from Rock Island, Illinois to Garrett, Indiana, to visit my parents' family.  We usually stayed with my Aunt Nora, whose kids were nearly grown-up: when I was 10, Cousin Ed was 21, Cousin Eva 19, and Cousin Joe, the only one still living at home, 17 (he's the one who I saw naked).

It was fun staying with Aunt Nora.  Their house was only two blocks from the Limberlost Library, where Cousin Joe let us check out books on his card.  It was three blocks from Sylvan Lake, where we could go swimming and fishing in the summer.

And in the winter, there was another treasure: an attic full of comic books from the 1950s!

Donald Ducks! Ancient chubby Caspers!  Archie going to sock hops! Pre-code horror!

And Jerry Lewis.

At the time I didn't know that Jerry Lewis was a real person, a comedian whose shtick involved blatant gay subtexts.

I just thought that he was a comic book character, a big-jawed, rather dopey, but cute young man who was not interested in women, as many cover gags demonstrated (here a woman is amazed because he took her through a Tunnel of Love without attempting a kiss.)

 However, he had a long-term partner named Dean Martin.

The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis title (1952-1957) had the pair traveling around the world, to China, the Middle East, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa, or Ruritanian countries of Europe, where they became immeshed in intrigues involving spies, bandits, evil cultists, or cannibals, allowing the easily-frightened Jerry to leap into Dean's arms.

Dean often got girls along the way, but Jerry did not.

In the few issues that displayed him shirtless, he had a pleasantly solid physique.

(Yes, that's Batman and Robin as guest superheroes.)

In 1957, shortly after the real-life comedy duo split up, Dean Martin vanished from the comic books, and The Adventures of Jerry Lewis continued for another 84 issues, finally folding in 1971.

Now Jerry was a single parent raising his sarcastic preteen nephew, Renfrew, and still not interested in women, though often they tried to seduce him.  The duo had humorous paranormal adventures with ghosts, witches, werewolves, monsters, mad scientists, and so on.

Eventually Jerry became the headmaster of a school for kids who are "different."

Some nice gay symbolism in my Aunt Nora's attic during the long, dull days after Christmas.

See also: Jerry Lewis Falls in Love.