June 20, 2013

Minorities in cartoons: "Chelsea Boys"

Minorities in cartoons: "Chelsea Boys"

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is “Chelsea Boys,” a comic strip that started in 1998, and ran through most of the 2000s. “Chelsea Boys” was created by Glen Hanson and Allan Neuwirth. The strip’s name refers to New York City’s heavily gay populated Chelsea neighborhood.

Background

“Chelsea Boys” focuses on the lives of a trio of gay roommates in New York City:

  • Nathan, a 42-year-old Jewish man who’s short, likes baseball, and is widowed, though we learn a bit about his partner in flashbacks. Early in the strip’s run, he begins dating Steve. Steve worked in the World Trade Center, and was killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • Soirée, a flamboyant thirtysomething Black man who performs as a drag queen. Soirée’s back story states he was thrown out of his parents’ house as a teenager. However, he still has close ties to his sister. Soirée began dating Curtis, a lawyer in his 40s, later in the strip’s run.
  • Sky, a college student from Vancouver, British Columbia, who’s extremely muscular and handsome, to the point of various random people drooling over the guy. Being raised by hippies, Sky has a similar outlook upon life, which sometimes clashes with his New York surroundings.

The strip also introduced various other supporting characters, including the gang’s relatives, their apartment building neighbors (a lesbian couple who eventually had a child—fathered by Nathan), best friends, boyfriends, and so forth.

Similar to “A Couple of Guys,” the strip features some “blue” humor. However, it also delves into serious issues on occasion, as seen with the World Trade Center attack strips.

One strip features a flash-forward into the distant future and the gang’s elderly years, where we see (among other “Jetsons”-esque jokes) that gay marriage is legal in New York. Of course, that came sooner than anyone probably expected—New York State legalized same-sex marriage in 2011.

The strip came to a halt sometime in the mid-2000s, though two compilation books were published. An animated series was announced, but never came about.

(Updated 11/18/16)

Tags: African-AmericansAllan NeuwirthChelsea Boyscomic stripscomics triviagayGlen HansonJewishLGBTQMediaminorities in cartoons