Hot Read: ‘Sex Drugs and Superheroes’
Imagine muscular men, fantastic costumes, and sweaty bodies crammed into one space over four days in southern California. No, we aren’t talking about the White Party in Palm Springs, but Comic-Con International in San Diego. (Naturally!) The annual celebration of all things pop culture has become a phenomenon of mythic proportions, giving fanboys around the globe the rare opportunity to party like rock stars while dressed in their Jedi best.
Of course, there’s nothing hotter than a gay geek, and the number of guys with a thing for crossing lightsabers attending this convention grows by leaps and single bounds every year.
Writer David Reddish perfectly captures the unique view of Comic-Con that can only been seen though a queer lens in his new novel Sex Drugs and Superheroes: A Savage Journey into a Wretched Hive of Scum and Supervillainy. Far from a simple intro to the greatest party in all of geekdom, Sex Drugs and Superheroes takes the reader beyond the surface of nerd culture with rich characters, romance, and a rocking good time. From cosplay enthusiasts to the comic curious, the fictional story of Liquin Sonos, the novel’s angst-ridden protagonist, offers as much fun as any graphic novel – and twice the charm.
Gay.net caught up with the author of this witty novel for a peek behind the cape of his latest story.
Gay.net: What inspired you to write Sex Drugs and Superheroes?
David Reddish: My very first year at Comic-Con in 2004, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the majesty of it, the special feeling of community there, that I really wanted to write a movie about it. The place just fills up with so many unique and interesting people and experiences that I think it naturally lends itself to a dramatic treatment.
Why do you think Comic Con appeals to the LGBT community?
I think the answer is the key word in your question--community. Let's face it; many of us geeks grew up bullied and outcast for our eccentric tastes--we'd rather be at home watching movies or reading comic books or playing Dungeons & Dragons than out at a school basketball game or at some party with all the "popular" kids, assuming we'd even get invited in the first place! So we all ended up as a sort of group of misfits, living on the fringe as this sort of underground culture. Growing up gay isn't all that different from growing up a geek: we're often social outcasts, bullied for being different. Comic-Con is a place of acceptance, a celebration of love of all things fantastic and unusual. For me that was the inception of the main character in my novel, Liquin. He's a gay geek, a sort of penultimate outsider. Comic-Con, for him, represents a sort of oasis in life, a utopia where for four days he can just be himself and be loved for it and enjoy the sense of community there. It's a place where being different is synonymous with being beautiful or special.
Why should people who’ve never been to Comic Con, or even read a comic book, pick up a copy of Sex Drugs and Superheroes?
Well Comic-Con has become the defining gathering for all things pop culture and entertainment related. For people curious and trying to understand the boom of superhero and fantasy entertainment--everything from THE AVENGERS to WALKING DEAD to STAR TREK to HARRY POTTER--the novel offers an insider look at the momentum behind the boom in interest. Also, again I think it presents a unique perspective on the Geek Community, gay or straight, and for people, especially young adults, who feel like an outcast, or who might be in the "closet" about their geeky interests...people who hide their comic books or watch reruns of STARGATE-SG1 on late night TV for fear of being judged, it can offer them a vicarious trip to the Convention and help them find a sense of pride in being a geek and let them know they are not alone.
Superheroes have often been used as gay allegories. As a gay man, do you think that aspect of the genre influenced you to take the path of a gay geek?
That's a bit harder to say. Would I love superheroes as much as I do if I didn't feel some level of connection with them because of my sexual identity? Would I feel an empathy for gay people if I were straight and still loved superheroes? Who knows. My love for men and my love for superheroes are defining characteristics of my identity. I can't imagine myself without either.
If you could convince any comic company that one of their iconic characters needed to come out of the closet, who would it be and why?
If I had to choose one, despite the history and inevitable backlash involved, I would pick Batman. He's probably the most plausible and mainstream of all comic book heroes, and I think his nocturnal adventures with other dashing, handsome men and his lack of interest in women sort of lend him to a gay reading.