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Dudley Jones – Crossdressing Villain

On the subject of stereotypes in comics Jet Heer recently wrote a column titled “Mickey Mouse, Homophobe“. Heer presents several examples of gay stereotypes used in comic strips, of which the most famous character is Mickey Mouse in a strip from 1931. In a second post, Heer presents earlier evidence with a copy of a Nisby the Newsboy strip featuring a street tough dressed up as a “real fairy” in a ballerina costume. Where Heer’s illustrations are disparaging, he points to Robert Boyd’s piece highlighting examples from the early 1930s in which E. C. Segar has Popeye cheerfully wearing women’s clothing.

Granted today it’s understood (at least by some) that crossdressing isn’t an automatic confirmation of non-heterosexuality.In some recent reading I came across “The Sandman Meets with Murder” from Adventure #46 (January 1940). The typically thin plot involves Wesley Dodds reconnecting with college buddy Dudley Jones. Dodds and Jones have a mutual college friend, Charley Hall who’s an advertising wunderkind. They try to pay a visit to Hall but discover Hall and his fiancée are out. Suspecting something amiss, Dodds returns as Sandman and finds Hall murdered. Packed into the story’s ten pages is a gun-toting blond and her dead twin, extortion, counterfeiting, and a conniving, crossdressing villain revealed as Wesley’s friend Dudley Jones. Jones crumples to the floor after accidentally, fatally shooting himself. His disguise revealed, Jones confesses his string of crimes motivated by hate.

Extortionist, counterfeiter, murderer. How else can the villain be made more vile? Turn him into a crossdresser because it’s such a logical choice for disguise. A big thank you to the uncredited writer for reveling in clichés.

Art by Bert Christman

January 16, 2010
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