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An Incomplete History of Comic Strips & Same Sex

Earlier today one of the points of Mike’s column was the casual portrayal of same sex partnerships in the Bliss panel. Commenters at the GoComics page also noticed.

I tried to pass on commenting, but can’t resist.

As mentioned in the Bliss comments Bud Fisher‘s Mutt and Jeff have been doing the same bed thing for 100 years. The 1922 Cupples and Leon book Mutt and Jeff Book 8, reprinting earlier daily comic strips, featured this strip (by Ed Mack?):

 

A few years later, in the same series, the situation was cover featured.

 

Yes, at various times they were shown with wives, but Mutt and Jeff sharing a bed was a regular occurrence throughout the 76 year run of the comic strip. Here is Al Smith (under Fisher’s signature) continuing the tradition (as rerun on the September 8, 2013 GoComics page):

 

 

Even before the 1907 debut of Mr. A. Mutt there was Lucy And Sophie Say Goodbye. Lucy And Sophie Say Goodbye was a 1905 comic strip series for The Chicago Tribune by an unknown creator. Every episode featured two young ladies saying goodbye with a passionate kiss and the attendant pandemonium, and occasional indignation, the act caused.

The series can be read at the Digital Comic Museum.

So this “same sex” thing has been going on in syndicated comic strips and family newspapers since at least the early 20th Century.

 

 

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Mike Peterson
September/4/2018
@ 3:29 am

This is interesting because it reminds me that (A) sharing a bed used to be a more common thing and that (B) elements of affection have also changed.

Ishmael and Queequeg shared a bed in Moby Dick and there was no question of sex, though, to the opposite side of the question, there was a fair amount of buggery happening on long sea voyages, most of which was — as in prison settings — more a case of opportunism than sexual attraction. But it was common for people to share beds — and naught else — in the days before efficient central heating and nobody thought much of it.

Ditto with women sharing affection without attraction, another relatively common element in 19th century literature, and let’s not forget the hand-holding between Saudi men that so shocked Westerners when some president — I think W — held hands with a Saudi leader. We’ve been more comfortable with physical contact in the past and other cultures remain so.

OTOH, those of us over a certain age grew up in a world where even married couples could not be depicted sharing a bed on television, until Mike and Carol Brady broke that taboo. If we have dirty minds, I blame Lucy and Ricky, Rob and Laura and a whole lot of other folks, but never myself.

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