Based on the above stories, on a scale of 1 to 4 roses, how coded do you believe them to have been?
This activity will be running ALL month long! (6/1–7/4) Select an item from each section, and then compare them! Or just anything you’d like to discuss about the material and polls provided, including all that! DON’T BE SHY—drop your thoughts below when you’re ready. See ya soon!
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These two characters were not created with each other in mind, but it seems that way to their passionate fan base. Pamela Lillian Isley first appears in Batman#181 in 1966 to challenge three other women over the title of number one female criminal in Gotham. Robin immediately worries Batman might be falling for femme fatale. Harleen Quinzel joins the DC animated universe as the Clown Prince of Crime’s henchmen in Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Jokers Favor’ in 1992.
Harley and Ivey first cross paths in a BTAS episode appropriately named “Harley and Ivy” in which Pamela borrows a line from Casablanca telling Harley “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Whatever the magic was that they sparked together, fans, creators, and the animated Batgirl noticed it immediately, though it takes time to bring it to its logical conclusion. In Gotham City Sirens, starring the duo with Catwoman, Harley breaks through talk of friendship and asks Pamela if she loves her. Finally, years after we all knew the truth Palmiotti and Conner’s Harley Quinn series made it a full, undisguised part of both of their lives. Their story, and the story of creators fully understanding these modern characters, took another step forward in the animated Harley Quinn where we find Ivy dealing with her confusing feelings toward her friend and coming to understand her own sexuality.
Members of the industry must see to it that gains made in this medium are not lost and that violations of standards of good taste, which might tend toward corruption of the comic book as an instructive and wholesome form of entertainment, will be eliminated.
Critics of early comic books, including Catholic bishops, mother’s groups and others latched on to what they saw as a sense of immorality. This ‘outrage’ exploded with the introduction William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman. Psychiatrist Fredic Wertham, was particularly incensed. Of Diana he said “she is a frightening figure for boys…undesirable ideal for girls.” Of female superheroes ”They are not homemakers. They do not bring up a family.” He also thought Wonder Woman’s stories were “plainly lesbian.” And it’s that fear of even hints of homosexuality, that became along with the supernatural and crime the centerpieces of Wertham’s anti-comics screed Seduction of the Innocent and subsequent senate testimony. Wertham presented ‘research’ that young male patients of his were attracted to pro-gay messages presented by Batman and Robin. It would take 60 years before an examination of Wertham’s notes found that he was lying about the two patients he based these broad pronouncements on. The boys described liking the father-son supportive family dynamic of Batman and Robin, but were physically attracted to real life actors like Johnny Weissmuller the former Olympic swimmer who played Tarzan in films.
In reaction to public pressure, the comics industry adopted a ‘voluntary’ code to rein in the more ‘harmful’ aspects of their books. Under the marriage and sex portion of the code, three rules effectively banned the depiction of homosexuality in any form:
(2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed.
(4) The treatment of live-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.
(7) Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
While the code would be revised over the years concerning such things as drug use, the ban on the depiction of gay and lesbian characters remained until 1989. During the interval, writers worked around the rules to some extent creating characters that were LGBT in all but name. Joining Element Lad, Shrinking Violet and Lightening Lass from the Legion of Superheroes was John Byrne’s “Maggie Sawyer who lived with a woman and later admitted that she had spent years trying to deny feelings “a proper Catholic girl didn’t even want to consider.” DC also published books, such as Camelot 3000 outside the umbrella of the code, allowing the book to present Sir Tristan as a transgender woman in love with Isolde. The altering and eventual disappearance of the code has allowed for a blossoming of characters depicting the entire range of humanity.
We probably give the code too much “credit” for keeping LGBT out of comics during the 50s-80s. The publishers weren’t going to put them blatantly in there anyway. The code’s prohibition against showing “Illicit” “sex perversion” was as much about yelling “Stop saying Batman is Gay!” as prohibiting something they weren’t going to touch anyway. Probably, maybe it slowed down the introduction of LGBT characters by sometime in the '80s. Maybe. Though, maybe there would have been a ‘special’ Green Lantern-Green Arrow issue that hinted at violence against gays. Maybe.
I say HQ because Ivy had to leave Kiteman. Sorry to Kiteman fans (I’m a fan) but HQ is a huge upgrade. Harley had to admit she was in a toxic relationship. Ditch her 1st true love, with the risk of retaliation unlike anyone else’s ex could be capable of. Than convince Ivy that not only would she not go crawling back again. But, that she should leave her fiancé & trust that she (Harley) would keep her word that she was done with Mr. J.
yes! I could talk all day about Ivy in particular- I’m hoping to put out a video essay this month about queer coding within her and the level of comphet that can be read into her obsession with Batman and her relationship with Woodroe pre n52…
(I tend to read ivy as lesbian and Harley as bi)
Hmm. I’m not sure I see Joker as “true love” so much as an obsession…and maybe Harls just has a problem taking NO for an answer but agree! (Wonders how @iJest categorizes that relationship). “It’s complicated” is prob just the simplest way to go.
Coded Batman & Robin is something of a funny topic to me these days. Like, do men call each other “big daddy” and sleep in the same bed…in a mansion w/ 50 other rooms? No. They don’t. Just like women don’t randomly shower together. I’ll be back!
Not True Love. I put 1st true love. But I suppose 1st love if we’re splitting hairs… the 1st person she says was her 1st love? Idk how to say it much different lol. I think it’s the true part you’re hung up on. Just a phrase. I didn’t mean it as literally as it was received.