Legendary Batman and Robin scribe Chuck Dixon recently addressed DC Comics retconning Tim Drake to make him attracted to men.
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DC Comics retconned Tim Drake in the pages of Batman: Urban Legends #6 in a story by Meghan Fitzmartin and Belen Ortega.
In Batman: Urban Legends #4, Drake meets up with his friend Bernard for dinner, but things go awry when a Chaos Monster appears and kidnaps Bernard.
Then in Urban Legends #6, Drake infiltrates the Chaos Monster’s lair in order to rescue Bernard. While surrounded by the Chaos Cult, Bernard describes their dinner as a date when he tells Robin, “Please. Tell Tim Drake …He helped me realize my true self. Who I am. Tell him…Well, he probably knows. He’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met. But tell him… I wish we could have finished our date.”
After defeating the Chaos Cult and rescuing Bernard, the story ends with Tim Drake showing up at Bernard’s house and Bernard proceeding to ask him out on a date.
Bernard states, “Tim Drake…do you want to go on a date with me?””
Drake responds, “Yeah…Yeah, I think I want that.”
Dixon responded to this retcon in his latest episode of Ask Chuck Dixon by first detailing how much work on Robin he did.
He says, “What are my bonafides on Robin? I wrote a hundred of his monthly issues. I wrote numerous miniseries, specials, annuals of Tim Drake Robin. I did not create Tim Drake Robin. Marv Wolfman created Tim Drake Robin. Alan Grant further developed Tim Drake, but then I was tasked by Denny O’Neil to develop the character further and make him worthy of being Batman’s sidekick. So he moved from ancillary character to full fledged Boy Wonder.”
Dixon then went on to discuss the retcon. He explained, “Robin is an iconic character. He’s been around forever. I’m not surprised by what happened because this is what they do. It’s disappointing more than anything else.”
He continued, “Because why couldn’t they just create a new character instead of leaning into a question that’s existed for the Robin character almost since his creation thanks to this gentleman, Frederick Wertham, who introduced the idea that there may be some sort of homosexual subtext to Batman and Robin and now they’ve basically confirmed.”
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“For what reason, I have no understanding. It’s a cynical marketing ploy because it brings attention to the title. What it will not bring to the title is increased sales because these things never work that way,” Dixon asserted.
He then posited, “There have been gay characters in American comics since the 80s. It’s not a new thing. It’s not stunning or brave. It’s just changing things for the sake of changing them. I mean what’s next? Hal Jordan is a cannibal? What are they going to do next?”
“This has been the flavor of the month for almost three decades. Is to reveal that a character is bi or gay, which to me is a distinction without a difference,” the Robin writer stated.
Dixon then noted, “I don’t understand the point of it. The character was never written this way, never conceived this way. But this is going to be his continuity from now on even if they retcon it back, even if they do a reboot and he’s no longer bi-curious; he will be bi-curious for the rest of time. This is going to be part of his continuity.”
“I don’t think there’s any real good reason for this beyond a simple marketing ploy. Like I said, these marketing ploys…they don’t work, they’re not effective. They don’t raise sales, but they raise interest from the media and from the peers within the industry. Which I guess is the point, to get your back slapped at an editorial meeting or possibly to get an interview with Vanity Fair. Maybe your name might get mentioned on CNN,” he said.
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Dixon contended, “But I think the vast majority of the American public has no idea who Tim Drake is. So now Robin is gay because they don’t know the difference between…They don’t know there’s been three versions of Robin or four or five version of Robin. They just know Robin and the Boy Wonder. So they’re thinking Burt Ward and Adam West and now Robin is into guys.
“But at the end of the day, it’s just lazy writing. It’s like when they used to kill characters to get interest in them and that was the only idea they had for a long time. Now they delve into the character’s sexual proclivities,” he postulated.
Dixon then explained how he predominantly wrote romantic stories rather than sexual stories, “And for my money and when I was writing comics, and I was writing under the Comic Code, none of my characters were ever sexually active. Now, I wrote plenty of scenes where there was a clinch and a fade out and you could assume that the characters went on to you know do the deed. But I left that up to the reader. You could believe that or you could not.
He elaborated, “It was like the old movies where the leading man and leading lady have a passionate kiss, fades to black, and when we see them again they’re having breakfast together wearing different clothes. So you could fill in the blank between those two scenes any way you wished and that’s where I always left it.”
“The only characters I ever had that were sexually active were Conan the Barbarian and occasionally Frank Castle would get lucky. But other than that I didn’t…I dealt in romantic relationships rather than sexual ones,” he further explained.
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Dixon then argued, “But by introducing the idea that a character is gay or bisexual, you are introducing the sexual aspects of it. You are saying the word and I just don’t think it has a place. I know kids don’t really read these things anymore and they’re written for adults, but it just seems like a weird way to go. In a medium filled with characters who run around in masks, and capes, and boots, it just seems to approach the fetishistic to explore their sexuality in any way. Even just to hint at it.”
“Which I imagine is what this comic is doing. It’s simply hinting at what might happen in between the panels or in between issues. So I don’t see any point to it,” he stated.
“No, I’m not disgusted. I’m not angry. I don’t own these characters they can do what they want with them, but it is just…It’s boring at the end of the day. It’s just boring and a little disappointing,” the creator of Bane concluded.
What do you make of Chuck Dixon’s reaction to DC Comics retconning Tim Drake to be attracted to men?