Double Post! Howl’s Moving Castle (Novel and Anime) and Making Tim Drake Gay

Howl’s Moving Castle (Novel and Anime)

I’ve recently watched and read the two versions of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle. The anime film by Hayao Miyazaki is loosely based on Jones’s novel. As I read the novel, I could not help but compare the two versions. And I think, contrary to popular assumption, that the anime is better than the book. Why? One word: Wales.

That Howl (Howell Jenkins) and Suliman (Ben Sullivan) are both natives of Wales (and from the lateish twentieth century to boot) living in a fictional fantasy world (Ingary) where both are highly accomplished wizards. This bugs me to no end. If the parts dealing with Wales are cut, the novel would not be hampered in any way. As it stands, Wales (our world) makes an unwelcome intrusion into a fantasy story. It does not make the story any better that I can see. All it does, honestly, is allow for some playing around with Oz and Narnia.

Taking Wales out, I’m not sure which version I prefer. I think I would still go with the Miyazaki adaptation. I like that Howl is a rogue in the novel, a coward and dissolute. But, I much prefer the more heroic depiction of him from the anime.

In the end, both works are good. But I think the anime, with its themes of pacifism, war, rebellion against power, etc. is a more enjoyable work on the whole. Jones is, however, a very good and enjoyable writer.


Making Tim Drake Gay

I’ve been meaning to get to this. A week ago, Comics Alliance had an article listing ten already existing comic book characters who could conceivably be “outed” as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The argument is that these (and other) extant characters have been around for years (and will continue to be so) while newly created/ introduced characters are more  likely to be exiled to comic book limbo after a while.

I see the point that Tim Drake (Robin/ Red Robin) has a stature and history greater than that of his new teammate on the Teen Titans, Bunker. And for that matter, Drake does have a higher status than Wiccan and Hulkling (who may be in the process of being sent to comic book limbo after The Children’s Crusade, though I hope not). So, outing Tim Drake (or any of the other characters on the list) makes some sense.

But some of the characters on the list really don’t make much sense. Gambit? Captain America?

As a gay man who grew up with Tim Drake as Robin, I would be thrilled if a writer and editor made the decision to out him. For me, fictional characters’ sexualities are by nature fluid. They are at the discretion of the writer. Making a character gay, straight, bi, or asexual is the choice of the writer.

Now, this brings me to reasons to argue that Tim Drake can be read as gay. GayComicGeek on Youtube has a pretty good video on this. While these reasons could help in a hypothetical coming out story (as happened with Rictor and Shatterstar), they can also be explained in other ways. That a straight man chooses to not have sex with his girlfriend or a willing girl does not equal gay. That Tim is far more affected by Superboy’s death than by his longtime girlfriend’s does not mean he is gay. There has been critical attention paid to these types of relationships (Sedgwick and Clum). And while they can be interpreted as homosocial and homoerotic, it does not necessarily make either character homosexual (nor does it preclude it).

Could Tim Drake ever conceivably come out as gay or bisexual (or even asexual)? The consensus seems to be no. Most readers do not see DC outing a major character of Tim’s status. I’m not so sure. I want to give the editors more credit than that. If he were to come out, I would be overjoyed. But if he continues to be confirmed heterosexual, then I have no problem with it.

Either with established characters or with newly created ones, the numbers of glbt comic book characters are growing, slowly but steadily. These characters, whoever they are, give glbt comic book readers characters to look up to, to read about, maybe to even identify with.




Posted on May 20, 2012, in Anime, Books, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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