Apr 5, 2018

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1135: Sandman Mystery Theatre #15, June 1994

https://www.comics.org/issue/55178/

Have I ever gone into my pain here? I'm not sure I have.

The reason that I've been writing much less of late (or one of the reasons) is I've been having quite severe joint pain in my wrists. It's been a concern for some time, but this past Winter, with the very cold temperatures we've had here in Calgary, it's been quite bad. I'm glad to say I have some medication that assuages the pain somewhat, but it's not always effective, and some days, like today, it hurts to do anything with my hands. Even reading a comic. But I really do want to give this series the level of thought and discussion it deserves.

So, briefly (Ha!). There's a strangely cult-like vibe to the lesbians in this story. I was concerned that we were about to see an unfair depiction of queer people (which, given this series, would be ridiculous to think), but unsurprisingly, the creators went another, very cool, route. What's interesting to think about is this story of an extremely charismatic woman gathering other women as her followers. We've seen the tale play out of the charismatic man who woos young people into exploitative cults, but I'm not sure I can think of an example of it played out from a lesbian point of view. (If anyone can, do let me know!) There is always an overtly carnal/sexual aspect to the relationship, as there is in this one, and the relationship is always frowned upon by "society." Though, perhaps, we're also seeing some institutionally-induced aversion to polygamous situations.

What this puts me in mind of, then, is representation. This is not a particularly flattering portrait of lesbians. But to only have benign portrayals of any group of people ignores the fact that there are unpleasant people in every demographic, everywhere. That aside, it's a novel portrayal, a story with which we're familiar but from an unfamiliar point of view. Surely this is the kind of representation we need to see in media depictions of queerness. Not "Hey, look at us, aren't we lovely?" but "Hey, look at us, aren't we human?" There's also the lovely silver lining of Dian, and her reactions to the explicitly gay scenes she comes across. It's a testament to Guy Davis' art that Dian communicates so much to us through her expression in these instances. In Dian we see what I would consider the optimal reaction of someone ostensibly heterosexual being exposed to queerness: curiosity.

Par example: Dian tails a friend and spies on her tryst with another woman.


Represented in this tale is a powerful, believable gay woman using her influence for nefarious purposes and a straight person straying into the Questioning aspect of queerness. I never really grasped the inclusion of that term, but I suppose that even the act of questioning one's heterosexuality is in and of itself a queerness. If queerness seeks to break down binary definitions of gender, then the act of questioning that binary is queer. Interesting stories to be telling.

More to come...

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