The broader history of interpretations of the Dynamic Duo's sexuality is full of twists and turns. "I think what has changed most over time is the awareness of gay identity," Worley said. "If you were gay in the '40s, there was almost nothing gay available for you to see. It was exciting when you found things [in comics]. I think what's happened in the meantime is a kind of convergence. As people don't have to be closeted, figuring out if somebody is or isn't gay isn't as much a part of gay life. Now in comics, there are superheroes who are gay, you don't have to find signs and create your own interpretations of ones who may or may not be. And if you're a gay writer trying to include that subject matter in a comic you're writing, you don't have to encode it, either. But because mainstream superhero comics are dealing with characters who were created decades ago and who have been worked on by hundreds of artists, those characters have now accumulated the baggage of all those interpretations and it's part of what is always present when they're being used."
Hall adds: "In his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, Fredrick Wertham pointed their relationship out as particularly unwholesome, and so I think it's fair to say that ever since Robin burst onto the scene in his little green Speedo and elfin shoes, there have been suspicions about the goings on in the Bat Cave. The Batman-Robin fantasy has changed some over time, as queer relationships have become more normalized and mainstream. But many readers still have a perverse joy in finding unintended homo subtext in work like the Batman comics."
"BATMAN ON ROBIN"
Opening reception Fri/8, 7pm, free.
Show run through March 3.
Mission: Comics and Art
3520 20th St., Suite B