Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Number 606

No longer science fiction

Big news in 1952 was that George Jorgensen left America for Sweden and after sex reassignment surgery came back as Christine Jorgensen. This was hot stuff for the States, where alarmed Americans viewed the procedure skeptically, if not as a sure sign of impending apocalypse.

The popular media jumped right on the story and partial results can be seen in these two science fiction comic book stories. We have "Transformation" from Charlton's Space Adventures #7, 1953, and "There'll Be Some Changes Made," from Weird Science #14, 1952. "Transformation" is drawn by a young Dick Giordano, who can't match the skill of Wallace Wood, who drew "Changes." Despite the relative merits of the artwork the stories are silly. Even with sex change surgery being a reality, in order to create comic book stories they had to be science fiction. Maybe the public still didn't see it as real.

Scans for the Weird Science story are taken from the Gemstone reprint of the 1990s.


Unknown said...

These were ahead of their time in many ways and while the stories are a bit silly and I wonder what my transgender friends would think, there actually seems to be a point beneath it all. One wonders if the creators of these stories knew someone who felt like he was the wrong gender.
The first transgender person I remember hearing about was Renee Richards. Everyone I knew was appalled. As a child, I didn't understand why anyone would want to have such a surgery but I also didn't know what Renee Richards had done to make people so hateful towards her. She seemed peaceful enough and even at a young age I somehow understood that this was the important thing.
Having made both gay and transgender friends in adulthood, I now understand that these are two different issues. In childhood I erroneously believed that a person changing their gender was something like the "ultimate gay expression."

HEH said...

Thank you for putting these comics tales in context of the times. Fascinating!

I recall a 3-D Sci-Fi comic book (was it Pacific Comics? Kitchen Sink?) from the 80's that featured Dave Stevens artwork. The tale concerned a man changed into a woman. Wonder if the effort was a nod to these tales.

Thanks for posting these!

Pappy said...

Lily and Hex...sorry, I don't remember the '80s comic by Dave Stevens, but I'm sure someone out there does and will share the information.

I had forgotten about Renee Richards until you mentioned her. I remember there was a big flap about her having a man's strength on the tennis court. Is it fair, her competitors asked.

These stories really don't go into any of the ramifications of sex reassignment. It was just considered very bizarre. Ed Wood's first movie, Glen or Glenda? was supposed to be an exploitation flick, I Changed My Sex about sex reassignment. He made it into a polemic about cross-dressing, not the same thing, obviously.

My point on posting these stories was that at one time changing one's sex was considered way, way out. Real comic book stuff!

After the Comics Code came in neither of these stories could have been published.

Daniel [] said...


At about the time of these stories, sexoloists such as David O. Cauldwell held that there was no real difference between the male and female brain. The natural position then was that mental health lay simply in accepting the sex of the body that one had. Cauldwell vehemently objected to sex reässignment surgeory, but integral to this objection was a purely practical problem — that a real change of the sex of the body were then impossible.

These stories work quite well within that framework.

Runs.with.Ferals said...

Great research & follow through, Pappy ! I hope the asylum Nurses continue allowing you to post~ despite your sex !

Tamfos said...

"Anyway, I'm a little tired of being a man..." Oh, yeah. It's just that simple.

As for the 2nd story, you'd think the name of the planet -- Gastropodia? Really? -- woulda been a dead giveaway to Arnold. But after all, he did his his head pretty hard on Page One.

HEH said...

Pappy, I came across the 3'D story on Ten Cent Dreams!
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