Unfortunately, nothing from that life leaked over into this one: I find comics from that era incomprehensible. Even when I can understand the slang, the jokes don't make much sense. They seem to be mostly about people hitting each other.
But I can certainly understand that Alphonse and Gaston are a gay couple.
Jokes involved them being urbane, sophisticated, and foppish, traits antithetical to the big-shouldered Yankee masculinity of the era.
And over-polite, each graciously refusing to leave before the other as the building burns down or the bull charges at them.
"After you, my dear Alphonse!" "No, after you, my dear Gaston!" became a popular catchphrase, used endlessly by journalists, political cartoonists, and sports commentators.
In 1947, Bob Clampett adopted the characters to the over-polite gophers Mac and Tosh, who are even more obviously portrayed as a gay couple, particularly in their recent incarnation on the Cartoon Network.
See also: The Looney Tunes Show