May 11, 2019

Gay Byways of Disney Comics

They say that the golden age of comic books was during the 1930s and 1940s, when hundreds of superheroes filled the skies, but I think it was from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, when my friends and I scoured the racks at Schneider's Drug Store, ignoring the DC and Marvel titles in search of Gold Key.

From Adam-12 to Dark Shadows: was there any tv series that didn't get the Gold Key treatment?

All of the Warner Brothers characters: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam.  

Child-friendly adventure series: Magnus Robot Fighter, Space Family Robinson, Korak Son of Tarzan.  

Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and many other Disney titles, exploring obscure gay byways of the Disney universe:

1. The Beagle Boys  (1964): six masked petty thieves in orange turtleneck sweaters, with serial numbers instead of names, who lust after Uncle Scrooge's money bin in many comics, spun off into their own series, reduced to a trio, with relationship unspecified (are they a gang?  brothers? lovers?).  They are raising the Beagle Brats, a trio of preteen nephews.

Thus they cannily avoid any need to mention wives, girlfriends, or heterosexual desire of any sort, reveling in a world of men.

2. Huey, Dewey, and Louie Junior Woodchucks (1967).  Donald's nephews belong to a Boy Scout-like organization with an endless bureaucracy and a handbook containing infinite knowledge ("Using the Junior Woodchuck Handbook, we've just translated this ancient Parthian inscription."). 

Here they are off on their own, sometimes with Donald or Uncle Scrooge hanging around, sometimes not. Occasionally girls appear, as members of the rival club The Little Chickadees, but only as competitors, never as objects of preteen crushes.  This is a man's world.

3. Moby Duck (1967).  A whaler who talks like a pirate seems like an odd addition to the Disney universe, but it allowed for many adventures, as Moby is paired with Donald, Uncle Scrooge, or even Gyro Gearloose to transport precious cargo or search for treasure. 

Sometimes he has a first mate named Dimwitty.  Two men living together on that tiny ship?  What was a gay kid in the 1970s to imagine?

4. Super Goof (1965).  Goofy, the dopey sidekick in Mickey Mouse comics, becomes a wacky superhero upon eating a magic goober (peanut).  Plus he's a single dad, raising his genius nephew, the mortar board-wearing Gilbert. (A word of advice: never marry a relative of a Disney character.  The moment you have kids, you're doomed.) 

Plus sometimes Gilbert eats the magic goobers, too.  Generation gap antics ensue, with neither Goofy nor Gilbert crushing on girls.

See also: The Comic Book Jungle


  1. Golden Age actually includes early 50s. You should know this, because the moral panic about comic books included "Batman and Robin are a couple". These days, everyone sees their relationship as paternal, and DC has finally indicated at least some gay men are into Dick. That gay men really like Dick. Quickly adding "But he's straight."

    The way they treat Jason and Tim is even more heterosexist, though.

    1. All superhero-teen sidekick pairs were either dropped or heterosexualized during the post-War period, with references to homework, chores, girls, and sleeping in separate rooms to identify them as father and adopted son rather than vague partners.

    2. I think you might be right. Judging by what Endgame did to Steve/Bucky.

      Keep in mind, my generation is spoiled, so age difference and family ties are choppy waters for a ship.

      But I did recently joke about Robert Pattinson as Batman. It's the same joke I tell already: "Dick always did have a weakness for redheads." (In canon, Starfire and Batgirl. But the joke is when you realize two of his closest male friends are Wally West and Roy Harper, both redheads.)


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