A Timeline of LGBT Visibility in Mainstream Comics

This timeline includes mainstream comic books with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters. The timeline begins after the creation of the 1954 Comics Code Authority and continues half a century to 2004. The timeline takes the form of a bibliography. The timeline was compiled over the course of my master’s thesis research in consultation with the “Comics Timeline” created by The Queer Comics Historian, with Jenny North’s Transgender Graphics and Fiction Archive, and my own (re)discoveries.

Because thousands of comics are published every year, there may very well be many more comics that included (covert) queer characters or that are ambiguous enough to suggest queer readings. This timeline should therefore be understood as merely representative of a history of LGBT visibility. If a queer character reoccurs in a series, I list only the initial issue of that character’s “outing,” except where different creative teams (or even the same creative team) have used a character’s sexuality for narrative-specific purposes. Following The Queer Comics Historian’s lead, up to the year 1989 I have indicated at the end of each citation whether or not a comic was given Comics Code Authority approval. This timeline does not include underground comix or alternative and independent comics, for which the history of queer visibility looks very different. Note that my definition of mainstream, differs from The Queer Comics Historian’s, in that his definition largely connotes “all non-underground,” thereby creating a broader and much less useful “catch-all” categorization. Mainstream for me essentially includes DC, Marvel, Image, and their imprints, since these companies appealed to similar aesthetics and marketing strategies to produce and sell their comics. Our timelines are therefore rather different in scope.

The timeline represents “positive” treatments of queer characters as well as “negative” examples and those that are more complicated in their portrayal. More often than not, the following comics deal but fleetingly with queer characters; sustained development of queer identities and narratives is rare. All dates are cover dates, no release dates.

1950s

Ditko, Steve. “The Man Who Stepped Out From A Cloud.” Out of This World, vol. 1, #5 (September 1957), Charlton Comics. CCA approved.

1960s

Binder, Otto and John Sikela. “Claire Kent, Alias Super-Sister.” Superboy, vol. 1, #78 (January 1960), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Broome, John and Carmine Infantino. “Beware the Atomic Grenade!” Flash, vol. 1, #122 (August 1961), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Dorfman, Leo and Curt Swan. “Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter!” Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, vol. 1, #67 (March 1963), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Dorfman, Leo and John Forte. “Jimmy Olsen’s Female Fan!” Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, vol. 1, #84 (April 1965), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Binder, Otto and Curt Swan. “Miss Jimmy Olsen.” Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, vol. 1, #95 (September 1966), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Binder, Otto and Jim Mooney. “Supergirl’s Secret Marriage!” Action Comics, vol. 1, #357 (December 1967), DC Comics. CCA approved.

1970s

Dorfman, Leo and Kurt Schaffenberger. “They Day They Unmasked Mr. Action.” Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, vol. 1, #159 (August 1973), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Glanzman, Sam J. “Toro.” Our Fighting Forces, vol. 1, #148 (May 1974), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Gerber, Steve and Carmine Infantino. “If You Knew SOOFI…” Howard the Duck, vol. 1, #21 (February 1978), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

1980s

Pasko, Martin and Curt Swan. “The Turnabout Trap!” Superman, vol. 1, #349 (July 1980), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Shooter, Jim and John Buscema. “A Very Personal Hell.” Hulk!, vol. 1, #23 (October 1980), Marvel Magazines. Magazines are not submitted to CCA.

Mantlo, Bill and Mike Vosburg. “Saturn’s Secret…” Bizarre Adventures, vol. 1, #30 (February 1982), Marvel Magazines. Not CCA approved.

DeMatteis, J.M. and Mike Zeck. “Someone Who Cares.” Captain America, vol. 1, #270 (June 1982), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

Byrne, John. “Into the Negative Zone!” Fantastic Four, vol. 1, #251 (February 1983), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

Barr, Mike W. and Brian Bolland. “Knight Quest.” Camelot 3000, vol. 1, #3 (February 1983), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Wolfman, Marv and Keith Pollard. “Witnesses.” Vigilante, vol. 1, #5 (April 1984), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Gillis, Peter B. and Don Perlin. “Manslaughter!” The Defenders, vol. 1, #134 (August 1984), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

——— “Bodies and Soul!” The Defenders, vol. 1, #136 (October 1984), Marvel Comics. Not CCA approved.

Claremont, Chris and John Bolton. The Black Dragon, vol. 1, #2 (June 1985), Epic Comics (Marvel Comics imprint). Not CCA approved.

Levitz, Paul and Greg LaRocque. “Dead End.” Legion of Super-Heroes, vol. 3, #22 (May 1986), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. “Absent Friends.” Watchmen, vol. 1, #2 (October 1986), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Claremont, Chris and Jackson Guice. “We Were Only Foolin.” The New Mutants, vol. 1, #45 (November 1986), Marvel Comics. Not CCA approved.

Barr, Mike W. and Alan Davis. “The Last Laugh!” Detective Comics, vol. 1, #570 (January 1987), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Mantlo, Bill and June Brigman. “Resurrection.” Alpha Flight, vol. 1, #45 (April 1987), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

Moench, Doug and Paul Gulacy. “Damazons and the Family Unit.” Slash Maraud, vol. 1, #2 (December 1987), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Englehart, Steve and Joe Staton. “Under.” Millennium, vol. 1, #2 (January 1988), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Moench, Doug and Gray Morrow. “Housewarming Party.” Spectre, vol. 2, #11 (February 1988), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Byrne, John. “Wings.” Superman, vol. 2, #15 (March 1988), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Delano, Jamie and John Ridgway. “Going for It.” Hellblazer, vol. 1, #3 (March 1988), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Grell, Mike and Ed Hannigan. “Gauntlet.” Green Arrow, vol. 2, #5-6 (June-July 1988), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Englehart, Steve, Cary Bates  and Joe Staton. The New Guardians, vol. 1, #1-12 (September 1988-September 1989), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Claremont, Chris and Craig T. Hamilton. “Deal With The Devil!” Marvel Fanfare, vol. 1, #40 (October 1988), Marvel Comics. CCA approved.

Moore, Alan and David Lloyd. “Valerie.” V for Vendetta, vol. 1, #6 (October 1988), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Pasko, Martin and Frank Springer. “The Sound of a Silent Heart.” Action Comics, vol. 1, #624 (November 1988), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

Ostrander, John and Luke McDonnell. “Personal Files–Amanda Waller.” Suicide Squad, vol. 1, #19 (November 1988), DC Comics. CCA approved.

Gaiman, Neil and Mike Dringenberg. “24 Hours.” Sandman, vol. 2, #6 (June 1989), DC Comics. Not CCA approved.

1990s

Gruenwald, Mark and Ron Lim. “A Clockwork Origin.” Captain America, vol. 1, #368 (March 1990), Marvel Comics.

Morrison, Grant and Richard Case. “The Soul of a New Machine.” Doom Patrol, vol. 1, #34 (July 1990), DC Comics.

Claremont, Chris and Bill Jaaska. “Storm.” Uncanny X-Men, vol. 1, #265 (Early August 1990), Marvel Comics.

Messner-Loebs, William and Greg LaRocque. “Fast Friends.” Flash, vol. 2, #53 (August 1991), DC Comics.

Gaiman, Neil and Shawn McManus. “Slaughter on Fifth Avenue.” Sandman, vol. 2, #32 (November 1991), DC Comics.

Shetterly, Will and Vince Stone. “Crossroad.” Captain Confederacy, vol. 1, #1 (November 1991), DC Comics.

David, Peter and Dale Keown. “Thicker than Water.” The Incredible Hulk, vol. 1, #388 (December 1991), Marvel Comics.

Smith, John and Sean Phillips. “Counting To Ten.” Hellblazer, vol. 1, #51 (March 1992), DC Comics.

Lobdell, Scott and Mark Pacella. “The Walking Wounded.” Alpha Flight, vol. 1, #106 (March 1992), Marvel Comics.

Bierbaum, Mary, Tom Bierbaum, Keith Giffen, Curt Swan, and Colleen Doran. “Terra Mosaic.” Legion of Super-Heroes, vol. 4, #31 (July 1992), DC Comics.

Milligan, Peter and Chris Bachalo. “Lenny’s Story.” Shade, the Changing Man, vol. 2, #26 (August 1992), DC Comics.

Milligan, Peter and Colleen Doran. “Hermaphrodite.” Shade, the Changing Man, vol. 2, #27 (September 1992), DC Comics.

Joyner, Tom, K.S. Wilson, and Chris Sprouse. “Now These Her Princes.” Hammerlocke, vol. 1, #1 (September 1992), DC Comics.

Dooley, Kevin and Andy Smith. “The Real Return of the…Global Guardians!” Justice League Quarterly, vol. 1, #8 (September 1992), DC Comics.

Cooper, Christian and Richard Case. “Black Letter.” Darkhold, vol. 1, #1 (October 1992), Marvel Comics.

Jones, Gerard and Tim Hamilton. “The Ashes Fall.” Wonder Man, vol. 1, #18 (February 1993), Marvel Comics.

Nicieza, Fabian and Rick Mays. “Criss Cross.” Nomad, vol. 2, #11 (March 1993), Marvel Comics.

Morrison, Grant and Steve Yeowell. Sebastian O, vol. 1, #1-3 (May 1993-July 1993), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Milligan, Peter and Duncan Fegredo. “Episode 4: And Then What?” Enigma, vol. 1, #4 (June 1993), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Ennis, Garth and Steve Dillion. Hellblazer, vol. 1, #68-69 (August 1993-September 1993), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Pollack, Rachel and Scot Eaton. “The Laughing Game.” Doom Patrol, vol. 2, #70 (September 1993), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Velez, Ivan, Jr. and ChrisCross. Blood Syndicate, vol. 1, #8 (November 1993), Milestone Comics (DC Comics imprint).

Velez, Ivan, Jr. and ChrisCross. “After the Fox.” Blood Syndicate, vol. 1, #10 (January 1994), Milestone Comics (DC Comics imprint).

David, Peter and Gary Frank. “Part Animals.” The Incredible Hulk, vol. 1, #417 (May 1994), Marvel Comics.

Nicieza, Fabian and Richard Pace, John Czop, Guy Dorian, and Darick Robertson. “The More Things Change…” New Warriors, vol. 1, #48 (June 1994), Marvel Comics.

Rawson, Dave and Greg LaRocque. “The Fighting Ugly American.” Fighting American, vol. 2, #6 (July 1994), DC Comics.

Washington, Robert L., III and John Paul Leon. “Female Trouble.” Shadow Cabinet, vol. 1, #2 (July 1994), Milestone Comics (DC Comics imprint).

Edginton, Ian and Doug Wheatley. “Red Prophet.” Blade: The Vampire Hunter, vol. 1, #2 (August 1994), Marvel Comics.

David, Peter and Gary Frank. “Lest Darkness Come.” The Incredible Hulk, vol. 1, #420 (August 1994), Marvel Comics.

Washington, Robert L., III, Ivan Velez, Jr., Wilfred. “What Are Little Boys Made Of?” Static, vol. 1, #16-20 (October 1994-February 1995), Milestone Comics (DC Comics imprint).

Morrison, Grant and Steve Yeowell. “Down and Out in Heaven and Hell.” The Invisibles, vol. 1, #2 (October 1994), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Blaustein, Maddie, Yves Fezzani, and J.H. Williams III. “This Ain’t No Cryin’ Game.” Deathwish, vol. 1, #1 (December 1994), DC Comics.

Barr, Mike W. and Paul Pelletier. “Island Girls.” The Outsiders, vol. 2, #16 (March 1995), DC Comics.

Choi, Brandon and J. Scott Campbell. “Beach Blanket Brawl.” Gen13, vol. 2, #2 (May 1995), Image Comics.

Dixon, Buzz and Eduardo Savid. “The Old Switcheroo.” Disney’s Aladdin, vol. 1, #8 (May 1995), Marvel Comics.

Isabella, Tony and Eddy Newell. “Blowed Away.” Black Lightning, vol. 2, #5 (June 1995), DC Comics.

Jones, Gerard and Chuck Wojtkiewicz. “New Devils for Old.” Justice League America, vol. 1, #110 (April 1996), DC Comics.

Wojnarowicz, David, Romberger, James, and Marguerite Van Cook. 7 Miles A Second. Ed. James Romberger. New York: Vertigo Verité (DC Comics imprint), March 1996.

Ostrander, John and John Ridgway. “Acts of God.” Spectre, vol. 3, #45 (September 1996), DC Comics.

Claremont, Chris and Dusty Abell. “The Price.” Superman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy, vol. 1, #4 (1997), DC Comics.

Jimenez, Phil. “Requiem.” Tempest, vol. 1, #4 (February 1997), DC Comics.

Robinson, Jimmie. Amanda and Gunn, vol. 1, #1 (April 1997), Image Comics.

Kessel, Karl, Steve Mattsson, Paul Pelletier. “My Precious…” Superboy and the Ravers, vol. 1, #13 (September 1997), DC Comics.

Ellis, Warren and Bryan Hitch. “A Finer World.” Stormwatch, vol. 2, #4 (February 1998), Image Comics.

Stern, Roger, Tom McCraw, and Jeffrey Moy. “Friends, Lovers and the Calm Before the Storm.” Legionnaires, vol. 1, #59 (April 1998), DC Comics.

Robinson, James, David S. Goyer, and Tony Harris. “Destiny.” Starman, vol. 2, #45 (August 1998), DC Comics.

David, Peter and Leonard Kirk. “The Flying Game.” Supergirl, vol. 4, #26 (October 1998), DC Comics.

Raspler, Dan, Dev Madan, Christopher Jones. “Squishy They Were and Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes in Love, vol. 1, #17 (October 1998), DC Comics.

Busiek, Kurt and Brent E. Anderson. “The Long Treadmill.” Astro City, vol. 2, #15 (December 1998), Image Comics.

Rodi, Robert and Phil Jimenez. “Genes and a T-Shirt.” Heartthrobs, vol. 1, #1 (January 1999), DC Comics.

David, Peter and Leonard Kirk. “Hell Hath No Furies.” Supergirl, vol. 4, #28 (January 1999), DC Comics.

Bendis, Brian Michael and Marc Andreyko. Torso, vol. 1, #5 (July 1999), Image Comics.

Mackie, Howard and John Byrne. “And Then There Were…” Amazing Spider-Man, vol. 2, #10 (October 1999), Marvel Comics.

2000s

Nicieza, Fabian and Mark Bagley. “Two Ships.” Thunderbolts, vol. 1, #42 (September 2000), Marvel Comics.

Winick, Judd and Darryl Banks. “The Bonds of Friends and Lovers.” Green Lantern, vol. 3, #137 (June 2001), DC Comics.

Busiek, Kurt and Keith Giffen. “Career Opportunities.” Power Company: Josiah Power, vol. 1, #1 (March 2002), DC Comics.

Azzarello, Brian and Marcelo Frusin. “Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels, Part Four.” Hellblazer, vol. 1, #173 (June 2002), Vertigo (DC Comics imprint).

Millar, Mark and Gary Erskine. “Brave New World: Four of Four.” The Authority, vol. 1, #29 (July 2002), Wildstorm Comics.

David, Peter and Jim Calafiore. “Getaways.” Captain Marvel, vol. 4, #32 (July 2002), Marvel Comics.

Milligan, Peter and Duncan Fegredo. “X-Storm.” X-Force, vol. 1, #129 (August 2002), Marvel Comics.

Winick, Judd and Dale Eaglesham. “Hate Crimes.” Green Lantern, vol. 3, #154-155 (November-December 2002), DC Comics.

Milligan, Peter and Mike Allred. “Good Omens, Part 4: Talking About Eddie With Arnie.” X-Statix, vol. 1, #4 (December 2002), Marvel Comics.

Zimmerman, Ron and John Severin. “Slap Leather.” Rawhide Kid, vol. 3, #1 (April 2003), Marvel Comics.

Rucka, Greg and Michael Lark. “Half A Life, Part One.” Gotham Central, vol. 1, #6 (June 2003), DC Comics.

Busiek, Kurt and Brent Anderson. Astro City: Local Heroes, vol. 1, #2 (June 2003), Homage (HomaHDC Comics).

Ennis, Garth and Cam Kennedy. “Streets of Laredo, Part One.” The Punisher, vol. 5, #28 (August 2003), Marvel Comics.

Vaughan, Brian K. and Pia Guerra. “Safeword.” Y: The Last Man, vol. 1, #18 (March 2004), Vertigo (DC Comics).

Gaiman, Neil and Andy Kubert. “In Which Many Patterns May Be Discerned, By Those With Eyes To See Them.” Marvel 1602, vol. 1, #7 (April 2004), Marvel Comics.

Gerber, Steve and Brian Hurt. “The Big House.” Hard Time, vol. 1, #2 (May 2004), DC Focus (DC Comics).

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