Thursday, 28 February 2008

85: Pitman and Wonderboy Robin Vass

in “Private Eye” 15 April 1966

This was a strip that ran for a few issues in “Private Eye” while Barry Humphries “The Adventures of Barry MacKenzie” was on hiatus. I think the illustrations are actually by Nicholas Garland who was also the illustrator for “Barry MacKenzie”

Originally “Selwyn and his Batman” (a batman is a personal servant for an officer in the army), it became “Pitman and Robin Vass”. Pitman is incredibly familiar but I can’t squeeze my brain cells to recall who he actually is. Robin Vass is old etonian Robin Douglas-Home (hence the top hat), since Alec Douglas-Home was known in the pages of “Private Eye” as Baillie Vass. In each episode, the two conservative superheroes would defend biogotry, privilege and prejudice from the vile forces of socialism, liberalism and social equality.

This comic predates any of the debate about homosexual reform. This is some 40 years old and almost none of these jokes would be out of place on any sketch show. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I leave for your judgement. The characters are very camp, but this is an example of the sissy predator (Dragula was also a good example of this). While gay men are of course less manly, still straight men become instantly vulnerable to their assaults.

The fashion assistant = gay is a longstanding social equation. The most famous example of this probably Mr Humphries from the 1970s sitcom “Are You Being Served”.

Also, in all this is all that Frederick Wertham “Seduction of Innocents” gay-batman vibe. Particularly in the last scene, where having beaten off the perverts, Pitman is a little too intimate with Wonderboy Robin

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