Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Today in Comics History, June 22, 1969: To put right what once went wrong

from "Up Against a Stonewall" in Quantum Leap #9 (Innovation, February 1993), script by Andy Mangels, pencils and inks by Deodato Borges as Mike Deodato, Sr., colors by Scott Rockwell, letters by Vickie Williams

This is another one of those stories that showed up now-and-then on the Quantum Leap TV series, especially in the latter seasons, where Sam's actions in the past intersected, if not necessarily caused, real-life events. (Remember him leaping into the body of Lee Harvey Osward?)

The date and title of Dr. Sam Beckett's leap into the past in this story ought to hint that it takes place in the run-up to the Stonewall Riots (June 28-July 3, 1969). Quantum Leap stories which insert themselves into real-life events have the potential to offer a bit of cringe and heavy-handedness, but this story's pretty solid and well-written, thanks to being scripted by openly gay comics writer Andy Mangels, who's been a major force in advocating for greater gay and lesbian visibility in media including comics. (He's also a pretty great writer who's done several of my favorite comics and Star Trek novel stories.) Andy provides an introduction and background to the story, explaining that this story itself is set up as a sequel to a TV episode with an offensively violent portrayal of a lesbian character, and attempted to "put right" that character;'s storyline with a more nuanced and open portrayal.

Note that weirdly washing-our-hands Innovation editorial disclaimer that this is only Mangels's point of view, not Innovation's or the creators of Quantum Leap. It's probably legally enforced on them for being a licensed comic book, but it still comes off, especially today, as a timid "cover our butts" aside. I don't have access to any further Quantum Leap letters pages, so I don't know if the company received positive or negative mail and if any of it was ever printed. I hope it was overwhelmingly supporting...but unfortunately I know that lots of people aren't.

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