[Ads-l] Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay

Sat Jun 6 15:37:17 UTC 2015

I recently encountered the old comic book characters Toni Gay and Butch Dykeman, although it seems that these names have attracted comment on the Internet for years.  It would seem that the names adhere too strongly to the same theme to be coincidence.  Particularly striking is the story in Popular Teen-Agers #6 (Jan. 1951), the first page of which is at http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=5695&page=3, where a gym instructor slaps Butch Dykeman around for his bad posture.  

Toni Gay started as Toni Gayle, a "glamorous model with a yen for crime detecting."  She appeared under that name in comics such as Young King Cole, Guns Against Gangsters, and Thrilling Crime Cases.  Still using the Toni Gayle name, she was first paired up with Butch Dykeman in School-Day Romances #1 (Nov. - Dec. 1949), in which she was a student at the Venus School of Modeling and he was a student at the adjacent Adonis School of Dramatic Arts.  The crime-fighting adventures were now done; Butch and Toni instead were comedic romantic figures, and some stories also featured Toni's romantic rival, Eve Ardor.  Without explanation, Toni Gayle's last name changed to Gay with School-Day Romances #4 (May - June 1950) (or possibly #3, which I don't see online).  School-Day Romances changed its name to Popular Teen-Agers with #5 (Sept. 1950).  Gay and Dykeman continued as a feature through Popular Teen-Agers #7 (Apr. 1951), and Gay appeared without Dykeman in Popular Teen-Agers #8 (July 1951).  After that Popular Teen-Agers became a standard romance comic that did not have regular characters, continuing in that format until #23 (Nov. 1954).

Comic books in the 1949 to 1951 period received little formal attention, and there was considerable flexibility in what could be portrayed.  This was to change radically in 1954, with the publication of the best-seller Seduction of the Innocent and publishers' institution of the Comics Code Authority, which imposed a rigorous system of censorship, but it was still an almost-anything-goes system for Butch Dykeman and Toni Gay.  These comics are not antedatings of "gay," "butch," or "dyke," but they are early uses and demonstrate that the terms were sufficiently little-known that they could be used as names in a children's comic book.

John Baker

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list