2 min

Comic books come of age

You’d think people had never seen a big, glowing, blue penis before but in the wave of hype surrounding the new superhero movie, Watchmen, media attention drifted southward, obsessing on the omnipotent Doctor Manhattan’s penchant for public nudity.

The R-rated movie’s bold mix of sex, violence and nuclear war has unsettled critics unused to adult themes in comic books but Christopher Butcher, manager of Toronto’s alternative comic book shop The Beguiling, says comics are a lot sexier than people think.

Watchmen creator Alan Moore, says Butcher, is “forward-thinking” on sexual matters. The writer once shared a female lover with his wife and wrote a gay-themed book called The Mirror of Love and a series called Promethea with artist JH Williams.

Williams is now working to revamp Detective Comics in which the missing-and-presumed-dead Batman will be replaced by a mysterious Batwoman. The new caped crusader is a sexy red-haired lesbian. This move may earn the Detective Comics series more notoriety than it’s seen since its launch in 1937. “I think that’s really cool,” says Butcher, pointing out that the Batwoman character was actually introduced a couple years ago but the suits at DC sat on the project until now because they were a little nervous about the blockbuster Dark Knight movie that was about to be released.

Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, a jolly, bombastic figure, is now developing a TV series based on the gay-teen novel Hero by writer Perry Moore.

“Most adult gay superhero fans love the hell out of that book,” says Butcher, though he says he found it “a little dark. It’s written from the point of view of a 16-year-old who feels the whole world is against him.” Butcher predicts, however, that Lee’s involvement will probably change the story’s tone for TV.

Here in Toronto the big news in comic-book adaptations is the current filming of Scott Pilgrim versus the World from Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. Pilgrim is not your average superhero, he’s a slacker musician winning the love of his cool girlfriend with the help of his brilliant gay roommate Wallace.

Butcher says, with a mixture of pride and shyness, that Wallace is loosely based on him. “I’m just happy that Wallace got a boyfriend in the latest issue,” he says.

Anyone not reading the Scott Pilgrim series, says Butcher, “will be kicking themselves when the movie comes out,” just be prepared to wait in line behind all the X-Men fans and lesbians in Batman black leather.