Jul 3, 2020

Mickey and Goofy, the Gay Couple of "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories"

Way to feel old.  In 2016, I bought the 75th Anniversary Edition of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, the flagship of the Disney comics empire.

Back in 1991, I bought the 50th Anniversary Edition

I was five years old when the 25th Anniversary Edition was published in 1966 (I bought it much later).

When I was a kid, I loved the Disney Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge titles, with the ducks adventuring in exotic locales, in search of the Mines of King Solomon or the lost crown of Genghis Khan.

But I had no use for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories.

There was always a Duck cover, and the first story starred Donald Duck, but it was a slapstick comedy, not an adventure.

Then several stories involving minor Disney characters adapted from movies that came out before I was born:

1. The Little Bad Wolf, a "Casper the Friendly Ghost" who butted heads with his single father, Zeke, aka the Big Bad Wolf from The Three Little Pigs (1933).  Neither father nor son expressed any interest in girls, so that was a glimmer of gay subtext, anyway.  But also:

2. The patois-speaking Indian Little Hiawatha,who apparently starred in some cartoons in the 1930s.  f Offensive even for a 10 year old in 1971

3. Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940).  Who?

4. Scamp, the son of the two dogs who got together in Lady and the Tramp (1955).  He was rascally, adventurous, a gender-stereotyped "boy," with sisters who were gender-stereotyped sissy "girls."  Offensive even for a 10-year old in 1971.

5/ Then a text story, unreadable, just so they could ship the comic books at book rates.

6. But the worst was the last feature, a serial by artist Paul Murray (1911-1989) that paired Mickey Mouse and Goofy.  

They were usually detectives trying to solve a crime with science fiction elements, though there were also outer-space and historical stories.

The problem was, I never could read a serial straight through.  Buying comic books was always a gamble, based on what Schneider's Drug Store stocked, what was left by the time I got there, and how much money I had.  There was never an opportunity to buy the same title several months in a row, so instead I always arrived in media res, or in time for "the ghost was really your disgruntled assistant" Scooby wrap-up.

Here's what I managed to get:

November 1968: "The River Pirates," Part 3.

March 1969: "The Secret of Shipnabber's Cove," Part 1.

September 1970: "The Sign of the Scorpion," Part 1
February 1971: "The Mystery of the Counterfeit Masters," Part 3

September 1971: "The Viking Stone Mystery," Part 3

July 1972:  "Message in a Nutshell," Part 3

April 1973: "The Case of the Talking Tooth," Part 3.

There was no Minnie Mouse, or any women at all in the stories, and as far as I could tell, Mickey and Goofy lived together, so they could be read as a gay couple. 

But I never made the leap.  Goofy was too tall, gawky, and dopey to be a fantasy romantic partner when I could get Tarzan, Johnny Quest, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., David Cassidy, Peter Brady....

Jul 2, 2020

Dead Man on Campus

Speaking of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, rent or stream Dead Man on Campus (1998).  It's a dark comedy about two college students, Cooper (Mark) and Josh (Tom Everett Scott) who attempt to cash in on the urban legend that when your roommate dies,you get automatic A's for the semester.

Some beefcake, lots of shirtless shots, and check out the scene where Josh is in his dorm room, trying to get some sleep, when Cooper brings a girl home and jumps in bed with her.  The camera is focused on the consternation of the roommate, but if you look carefully in the top right of the screen, you can see Mark Paul Gosselaer rising to the occasion.

And you get two cute guys, a strong homoerotic subtext, and almost none of the casual homophobia endemic in buddy comedies. What's not to like?

Jun 30, 2020

Michael Callan: A Gay Guy and His Pretend Wife

One of the most iconic beefcake moments of my childhood came in Mysterious Island, the 1961 adaption of the Jules Verne classic about some Civil War soldiers who end up lost on a mysterious island with giant crabs, prehistoric auks, and Captain Nemo.

The 1960s version added some women to up the hetero-romance, but made up for it by divesting Michael Callan of his shirt. 

The scene where he and his girlfriend get trapped by giant bees is still frightening today.

Michael Callan was the go-to guy for teenage beefcake in the 1960s, wandering between Disney, ARP, and anyone else who would put a shirtless scene.  I've seen him as a bulgeworthy circus aerialist in The Flying Fontaines (1959), a troubled high schooler in Because They're Young (1960), a gang member in West Side Story (1961), a teen dancer in Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961), and a rascally cowboy in Cat Ballou (1965). 

He also took off his shirt in Bon Voyage (1962), The Interns (1962), The Victors (1963), and who knows what else?

Although he always seems to have his arms around a girl, many of Michael's early movies involve as much buddy-bonding as girl-kissing.  He bonds with Warren Berlinger in Because They're Young, Cliff Robertson in The Interns, and Dwayne Hickman (left) in Cat Ballou.  

The sitcom Occasional Wife (1966-67) seems to have been a sitcom about a gay guy and his "beard."  Businessman Peter (Michael Callan) knows that he can't get ahead without being married, so he convinces his gal pal Greta (Patricia Hartley) to pretend to be his wife.

Plots involve backstabbing coworkers, people suspecting their secret, and Greta's boyfriend suspecting that they're really involved, but no hetero-romance for Peter.  You can see some episodes on youtube.

In real life Michael was married three times, and doesn't have a lot of gay rumors attached to him, though Dwayne Hickman spends many pages of his autobiography describing their warm friendship.

Jun 29, 2020

"The Tick": Can a Man and a Boat Find Love?

I'm completely obsessed  over the relationship between a man in a moth costume and a talking boat.

The Tick. created by Ben Edlund in 1986, is a superhero parody that examines how being super might play out in the real world, where the rent is due, buildings you smash up have to be repaired, and you suffer from anxiety and depression over "being different."

The comic book, animated series, and tv series versions have all been slightly different, but the Tick and Arthur always capitalize on the superhero-sidekick homoerotic bond: they live together, share expenses, share a bed, bicker like a married couple.  The 2001 series, with Patrick Warburton as The Tick, was called "the gayest show on tv" for dealing with issues like coming out to parents and gay adoption.

The latest adaption, on Amazon Prime (2016-2019),is even more gay.  In previous versions, Arthur gets girlfriends to sort of diffuse the gay coding, but here, he (Griffin Newman) does not express any heterosexual interest.  Neither does the Tick (Peter Serafinowicz).  Everyone accepts them explicitly as a couple.  They are invited to parties together; Mom invites "the two of you" to dinner; they apply for official superhero status as a pair.

Of course, they are not actually lovers; the Tick is happy to see Arthur "getting out there" and dating new people.  Or new boats.

Fellow  superhero Overkill (Scott Speiser) has a sentient boat named Dangerboat (voiced by Alan Tudyk in a parody of Kitt , the talking car from Knightrider).  Early in the series, Dangerboat announces that he identifies as male.  This starts out a little discomforting, like a transphobic joke, but after the initial “identifies as” scene, everyone just accepts that Dangerboat is a male boat. Furthermore, he is gay, attracted to both male boats and male humans. He was in love with his previous owner,  Michael, and now he has a crush on Arthur.

He gets a  little frisky while Arthur is taking a shower (inside him).,but then he apologizes, and just asks Arthur out (or in) to movies.Arthur keeps blowing him off. (“Just date the boa!” I yelled at the screen.“You could do worse.” )

 Tick is enthusiastic about the potential romance,but Arthur isn’t sure – a man dating a boat? How would that even work?  (Gay human couples get the same response).  “”I don’t want to confuse him, or confuse me.  I’m already confused.  He’s just a boat, right?”

Thing come to a head when Dangerboat has a post-traumatic episode over Michael’s death, and Arthur talks him down from a "deep cleansing" that would kill them all: “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love”   Dangerboat admits that he loves Arthur, and Arthur responds "I know you do."


Later, Dangerboat apologizes for losing it, and hopes that they can still be friends.  “We are friends,” Arthur affirms.


So I guess they won't be dating.  But I still think Arthur could do worse.

By the way, this version also has a lof beefcake.  Arthur is nude frequently, and there are glimpses of other superheroes, like Superion  (Brendan Hines).  Not the Tick - Peter Serafinowicz doesn't look like that in real life, anyway.

Plus a Season 1 plot arc involves the Very Large Man, an ordinary guy zapped with a ray that makes him 200 feet tall.  At that height, he's no longer sentient, but he does have a 20 foot long penis.

The perennial question: smart but tiny, or dumb but hung?

See also: 10 Things You Should Know about "The Tick"

Jun 28, 2020

"The Woods": I Know What You Did Last Summer...Um, I Mean 26 Years Ago

The Woods, a 5-episode Netflix mini-series, gets a 97% rating in my recommendations, and the plot sounds intriguing: In 1994, four teens go into the woods, and never come out. Besides, I haven't heard Polish spoken in a long time.  So ok.

Prologue 1: A  balding, bearded middle-aged man is staring into a gun barrel, and thinking. "In 1994, the summer was coming to an end, and so was my childhood."

Prologue 2:  A scary, empty summer camp. As the police wrap up some bodies in the woods, Teen Hunk is watching from the trees.  When they see him, he runs away.  Uh-oh, he must be the young Baldy, a murderer!

Scene 1 (1994); Teeaage girls at summer camp acting like five-year olds.  One is swinging.  Another  blows on a whirligig and laughs in delight.  I don't get it -- are these special needs children?  At least the boys are doing teen things, drinking wine and playing foosball. 

Out on the lake, three boys, including Teen Hunk, are frolicking (bare chest shots) while a Girl photographs them.

They head back to camp.  Teen Hunk and the Girl grin dopily at each other.

Mom and Creepy Head Counselor yell at Teen Hunk for shirking his responsibilities to go grinning dopily at The Girl.  He's supposed to be "looking after them."

Scene 2:  Teen Hunk blows off his duties again to go out into the woods with the three from the lake. They helpfully introduce themselves, although they obviously already know each other -- unless this scene is outof sequence: Pawel (Teen Hunk), Laura (the Girl), Artur (left), and Daniel.  The boys take off their shirts, and Laura photographs them.

That night, in the cabin, Pawel and his Sister discuss how hot Daniel and Laura are, respectively.

Scene 3: Pawel is off to make his nightime rounds, shining his flashlight into dark trees and checking the locks on buildings.  Artur and Laura  join him, and they go joy riding in a  car thats been parked in the woods all day with the keys in it.  Suddenly they hit someone!  Uh-oh, I know what you did last summer, 26 years ago!

Scene 4 (2019):  The Adult Pawel and, I assume, his wife Laura, are watching their daughter in a diving contest. Another daughter sits beside them (this is turning into a very distaff-heavy show).  Pawel refuses to take pictures of the competition, because they could end up on the internet, where pervs could access them. Geez, this guy is broken!  What happened at that summer camp?

Scene 5:  Plot dump:  Adult Pawel is a widower with a daughter.  He works as the chief prosecuting attorney of his district, obsessed with bringing pervs to justice.  Laura, who is married to someone else, has come for a visit.  She asks Pawel to move back home,so things could be like they used to be, but Pavel insists: "Nothing will be like it used to be."

Scene 6:  Although it's the middle of the night,after the competition, Pawel goes to work, analyzing criminal case files in his office.   Suddenly a police inspector shows up (why would he think that Pawel was even there in the middle of the night?).  By being threatening and sinister, he convinces Pawel to drive with him to a huge, scary building.

Plot dump:  Someone named Marek was murdered last night.  It's a fake name, so they don't know who he really was.  But he was carrying a lot of newspaper clippings about the 1994 disappearances, and Pawel's name and address..

Scene 7 (1994);  The guys are playing basketball (one shirtless, and a ginormous bulge), while girls look on with annoyingly blatant horniness -- they're dying to get laid, right now!  Wait -- weren't they acting like five-year olds earlier that day?

Artur obligingly approaches one, and they swallow each other's tongues for awhile, until Creepy Head Counselor interrupts them. .

Scene 8:  Creepy Head Counselor goes into the woods with some girls and flirts with them (I guess they're so horny they'll take anyone with a penis.)

Meanwhile, Pawel and Laura go to the beach, play with each other's toes, and smoosh their tongues inside each other's mouths.

Scene 9 (2019):  Adult Pawel examines the clippings from the Dead Guy's car.  Of course Creepy Head Counselor, aka "The Summer Butcher," was convicted of "killing that girl."  And of course he didn't do it.  Of course Dead Guy knew what Pawel did that summer, so Pawel killed him to keep him quiet.  At least, that's what the inspectors imply.  (But after killing him, Pawel left his name and address and the clippings in the car?He's not an idiot!)

Scene 10: Back home, Pawel has a cute-daddy scene with his daughter.  Wait -- isn't it like 2:00 am?  And didn't her cousin stay over.  Is this the same night as the swim meet?

Scene 11 (1994); The teens are bouncing around idiotically in what is apparently supposed to be dancing.  Artur gets mad at Daniel (left) for kissing his girl, and attacks.  His friends pull him away.  They discuss how love is unending agony.

They take off their shirts and dance and almost kiss.  Some gay subtexts going on.

But then the girls show up, gazing with that annoyingly blatant "Sex me up right now!" look, and invade the party.

Scene 12: Pawel stumbles into the woods and throws up.  Why, did a girl try to kiss you?  Laura comes out to grin dopily at him.

Scene 13 (2019):  By now it must be like 5:00 am. Adult Pawel rummages through his bulging files about that summer (so I guess he didn't do it).  Adult Laura joins him.

Plot Dump:  Mom, who ran the camp, abandoned him after the incident.  Or did she disappear because she knew something?

Scene 14 (1994): Mom yells at young Pawel for having booze parties with hoodlum friends like Artur: "Pull a stunt like that again, and God knows what I might do!"  (an obvious red herring)

She then yells at/threatens Artur: "Stay away from Pawel!  You're no good for him!" (Definite gay subtext, in spite of the girl-smooching.)

Scene 15 (2019): Adult Pawel swimming (kind of dumpy).  Then he goes to work, where his assistant shows him risque photos of her!  (is it taboo to say someone's name in Poland?).  He calls her, a college student, into his office.  Two guys raped her and then pled not guilty.  These photos will be used to "prove" that she is a slut who wanted the activity.

This is interesting, but...what's it doing here?

Later, Pawel is sitting in a cafe, when one of the boys' fathers shows up. He offers to pay the girl 50,000 zlotys and donate to Pawel's wife's foundation if he drops the case.  Then he threatens Pawel: "Everybody's got secrets."

Scene 16 (1994): The teens are doing their idiotic jump-dance thing.  Pawel sits outside under a tree.  Laura convinces him to walk into the woods.  Close-up of tongue-swallowing, then sex for abotu five minutes of air time.  They are interrupted by a loud noise.  Laura runs away, and Pawel looks in horror at....

Scene 17 (2019): Adult Pawel swimming and looking horrified.  Later, in the courtroom, Pawel moves to keep the boys in the rape case in custody while they analyze the forensic evidence.  Their Dad is not happy.

Scene 18: Pawel meets with the police inspector. Plot Dump: Four kids went into the woods. Two were found dead later.  The other two, including Artur and  his sister, were never seen again.

He finally agrees to look at the body from Scene 6, the guy who died with all the clippings from the incident in his car. "Fuck me -- impossible!"  It's Artur!

Beefcake: A lot of bronze bodies glistening in the sun in the 1994 scenes.  Young Pawel doesn't own a shirt.  The adult Pawel seems to go swimming before work every day.

Gay Subtexts:  Pawel and Artur.

Heterosexism:  A lot of smooching.

Heavily Broadcast, Obvious Red Herrings: A lot.

Weird Age Conflations:  The teenage girls act like they're five years old one moment, and auditioning for a porn movie the next.

My Grade: B.
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