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Lance Gardner

Writer Gerry Conway had given Diana Prince an apartment in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. After rescuing an airliner and sky divers, Wonder Woman returns to the rooftop of her apartment building, and with her magic lasso transforms into Prince. Diana almost makes into her apartment when she’s stopped by her neighbor Lance. Lance and his roommate Tod are throwing a party to which he invites Diana. Lance promises there will be interesting and creative people from the building at his party. He follows Diana into her apartment, complimenting her on the decor, and mentioning that he’s a dancer, and he “almost had a part in ‘A Chorus Line’ Bob Fosse promised he’d use me in his new musical, after ‘Dancin’–“

In #260 Lance stops Diana in the hallway again, pestering her with some photos from his modeling portfolio. He refers to his roommate as Tom now, probably a simple lettering error. He’s anxious to show Diana his new modeling photos, one of which he says is intended to emulate (gay) dancer Nijinsky. Artist Jose Delbo lets the reader see that the pose has the look of Nijinsky. Diana is still suffering from a Berserker’s rage brought on her in some plot. Not in a humorous mood, she picks him up and tosses him away from her door. The big party takes place on the roof top in issue #262. Lance is drawn somewhat nerdishly with an overbite. This may be due to a change in artists from Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta to Ric Estrada & Jose Delbo or possibly Estrada making him into a caricature. Lance appears in only a few panels and is consigned to supporting character limbo.

Tod also shows up at the party and he makes a play for Diana. They share a quiet conversation and a kiss. Diana backs off though. Alas, Diana is still mourning Steve Trevor’s second death. The last we see of Tod is in #269. Tod charms his way into Diana’s apartment by offering to cook her a romantic candle-lit dinner. Tod then proceeds to profess, “I think I could love you, Diana” and kisses her. Of course, Diana is still devastated over Trevor’s death and she tells Tod to leave.

Neither Lance nor Tod were officially outed; this story was printed in 1979, eight years before the Comics Code would be revised to openly allow identifying characters as LGBT. The subtext from his appearances in #259 and #260, as well as the necklace, bracelet, and (miscolored) ring in his introductory panel make it clear the character is intended to be gay. As for Tod/ Tom trying to romance Diana, the most likely possibility (aside from reading subtext wrong in the first place) is that some backpedaling happened initiated by Conway himself or by direction of then editor Ross Andru. It’s also possible that Tod was always straight or bisexual.

Thanks to Norman Tipton for bringing the character to my attention and his help.

Lance Gardner created by Gerry Conway and Jose Delbo. Lance appeared in Wonder Woman (volume one) #259, #260, and #262.

Art by Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta.

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