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Marvel disputes gay advisory
Comic rep denies policy to warn readers of gay heroes

Sep. 15, 2006

Marvel Entertainment, Inc., is dismissing reports that the comic book company had a policy to carry warning labels on titles with leading gay characters, saying recent news stories about the warning being canceled were “taken out of context.”

“The best way to find this out is to go to the comic book store, and you will not see a warning label on any title with gay characters,” said Jeff Klein, executive vice president of Dan Klores Communication and spokesperson for Marvel.

Earlier this year, Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, angered gay fans and activists when he stated that no ongoing solo series starring gay characters would go out without a warning label, according to the national Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media watchdog group.

But Klein said those accounts were based on inaccurate reports.

“On the record, Marvel never had warning labels on comic books with gay characters, and we never will,” he said.

ACCORDING TO QUESADA, the policy to use warning labels came about because of negative attention Marvel received for their 2003 Western series featuring the gay character Rawhide Kid.

Quesada addressed the policy in an Aug. 19 interview with Matt Brady with the online trade publication Newsarama after Brady asked Quesada about the gay advisory policy.

Quesada said the policy hasn’t come up in some time, and officials decided it was no longer needed.

“I’m glad you asked me this, fortunately this question has been raised again and it’s given us the opportunity to spark some internal discussions and revisit this issue especially in light of the fact that we have characters like Freedom Ring, who is the current star of ‘Marvel Team Up’ without much fanfare mind you, and that we’ve had more gay and lesbian characters appearing in Marvel comics than ever before,” Quesada said in the interview.

“In many ways, the old policy over the last few years has just sort of faded away, so let me just say that there is no longer any policy.”

BUT ACCORDING TO Klein, Marvel had placed the Rawhide Kid series, which is no longer published, under its “MAX: Explicit Content” category. He said the category, which has distinctive packaging from other titles, is used for stories with adult subject matter.

Klein didn’t provide a reason why Rawhide Kid was considered a Max title during its publishing run, but said it was not due to pressure from conservative groups.

“Looking at certain aspects of the title, that specific story fell under that banner,” he said. “It’s just an overall adult labeling.”

In addition to Freedom Ring, Marvel has a host of other gay characters including Northstar and Colossus in “Ultimate X-Men,” Wiccan and Hulking in “The Young Avengers” and Karolina from “Runaways.”

Nick Adams, a GLAAD spokesperson, said Marvel received GLAAD’s 2005 Best Comic Book Award for “The Young Avengers.”

Adams said any labels on comic books should solely be based on content.

“We think that it would be unnecessary if the labels are used just because there is a gay theme,” Adams said.

In the interview with Newsarama, Quesada said his company is in the business of representing its readers.

“Our responsibility is to entertain and to reflect the world around us as best we can while keeping in mind that our readers come in many shapes and sizes and beliefs,” he said.

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