It's not a secret that the world of comics and comic books hasn't exactly been gay-inclusive over their long histories. Indeed, for gay readers looking to finding themselves represented in the pages of their favorite newspaper comic, the choices have been few and far between. After all, a few enraged readers are often enough to intimidate timid, already struggling newspapers into dropping certain comic strip panels which some intolerant readers deem offensive.
Unfortunately, comic books and graphic novels haven't fared much better. Among the major comic publishers such as Marvel and DC, gay characters are often relegated to minor titles that come and go as fast as Superman changes into his superhero outfit. While small press publishers tend to be more inclusive, their offerings are usually hard to find at comic shops, especially if not located in a major city.
However, there is one place where the number of opportunities for gay themes to be explored in comics and for gay creators has actually grown: the Internet.
While newspapers and their syndicated comic strips continue to wither away, thanks to the Internet there has been an explosion of "webcomics," strips usually available solely online and usually at no cost.
Webcomics aren't exactly new. Indeed, they have been around for about as long as users have been able to send images over the Internet. The earliest webcomics were distributed via usenet groups and BBS (bulletin board service) forums – and with each passing year the format of the webcomic is becoming increasingly accepted by the comics industry.
Prestigious comic industry awards like the Eisners, the Harveys and the Ignatz Awards now include a category for webcomics and the "big two" comic book publishers – DC and Marvel – have both gotten into some form of distributing comics over the web. In fact, thanks to the Internet, many of the hurdles that often keep a gay-themed comic from making it onto comic shop shelves and into readers' hands are being eliminated.