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Retro Rerun: Jimmy Olsen, Queen of Metropolis

| May 16, 2016
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Time for another blast from the past. Now and then we unlock the vault and take a look at what’s stored away down in the TGForum Archives. This article from 1997 was the first of Britanny Rose’s long series on crossdressing and trans characters in comic books, Brittany’s Cartoon Corner. In this article she explored the four times Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s pal and intrepid cub reported went undercover in a dress and high heels.

COMXCRNEWhere does a T* boy growing up in a conservative home find examples of crossdressing that are safe to have around the house? Comic books! Any hint of gender blending or female impersonation in a comic, and I had to add it to my collection. 30 years of collecting has resulted in well over 200 comics with some T* connection. From time to time I’ll be sharing examples of heroes, villains, and just normal people dressing in drag.

To start this series right, I have to highlight the patron saint of comic book crossdressers, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. In the sixties and early seventies, most comics were written for pre-teens. This was particularly true for the comics that featured Superman. Jimmy Olsen, who worked at the Daily Planet with Clark Kent, was Superman’s best friend and had even been given a special Signal Watch that allowed him to call Superman at any time. Each issue of his own comic usually featured two or three stories of Jimmy getting into all kinds of problems or disguises which usually led to Superman having to save the day. At different times he disguised himself as a Texas millionaire, a Rock-N-Roll star, a boy from Mars, a circus clown, or even Superman himself. And at least four times our hero dressed as a woman.

JIMMYOL1

Click image for full size cartoon.

Jimmy’s first crossdressing experience came in issue 44 (April 1960, reprinted in issue 95).

In a story entitled Miss Jimmy Olsen, Jimmy decides the best way to find jewels that a mobster, Big Monte McGraw, has stolen is to infiltrate the Broadway show MacGraw is producing. Since they are looking for female dancers, Jimmy dresses up, auditions and becomes a chorus girl. Big Monte is so impressed that he insists that “Julie Ogden” become roommates with his girlfriend, who has a pet monkey. The next day at rehearsals, Big Monte informs “Julie” that he is smitten by her, gives her flowers, and invites her on a date. Monte takes Julie to a fancy restaurant, and when another mobster comes on to her, Monte has him rubbed out. However, back at the apartment, Monte insists on a good night kiss. (Remember we’re writing for 10-year-olds) So Monte gets a big wet kiss, never realizing he’s kissing the monkey. The next day Jimmy pretends to be sick, so he can stay home and search the apartment again. Monte then goes to the apartment to check on the “Future Mrs. McGraw.” However, when he sees Julie searching the apartment, he notices her Adam’s apple and removes the wig. But just when Jimmy is about to be shot, the monkey hits Monte over the head with a baseball bat. Superman then shows up and reveals the jewels. The final panel shows Jimmy typing up his story back in the newsroom, still in a dress. No wig, or makeup, but in the dress. Hmmm.

JIMMYOL2The second story appeared in issue 67 (March 1963) — “Leslie Lowe, Girl Reporter.” Jimmy is offered a job at a rival newspaper, but out of loyalty turns it down. But when his request for a raise at his own job is refused, he quits, only to find that the new job has already been given to a girl reporter. Out of work, he finds that the only openings seem to be for women. So Jimmy drags out the old disguise trunk and dresses up once again. “I used rouge over my face to cover my freckles and the Desire Me lipstick will make me look like a doll, even if I do say so myself.” It should be noted that his outfit and wig are totally different from anything he wore in the first story. Hmmm. Anyway, he applies for his old job as “Leslie Lowe” with the plan of messing up so badly that his boss will realize he needs Jimmy back and will rehire him. However, every time he tries to mess up it backfires, and soon Leslie has a raise. At one point, Leslie is caught having to change clothes and winds up hiding in a bubble bath. (Why not?)

Finally, after Leslie is praised one too many times, Jimmy pulls off the wig only to discover that everybody knew it was him. He had forgotten to take off his Signal Watch. And how did everything keep turning out all right? Superman had nothing better to do that day than to hang around and play jokes on Jimmy. Jimmy then gets the raise, and goes to take his girlfriend out, when she smacks him for two-timing her, since Leslie’s purse and jewelry are in the back seat. Oh, well, it’s not that Jimmy didn’t learn a valuable lesson working as a female. “I like bubble baths!” he says in the final panel.

JIMMYOL3Issue 84 (April 1965) in “Jimmy Olsen’s Female Fan,” Jimmy’s fan club has to select a new president. They welcome as a new member someone who is moving to the area, only to discover – gasp! — it’s a girl! She passes all their initiations and is even selected as their new president, until one of the boys figures out that it’s really Jimmy in disguise. That boy then becomes the new president. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, it is a totally different outfit.)

JIMMYOL4Finally, in issue 159 (August 1973), in “The Day They Unmasked Mr. Action,” Jimmy has become the investigative reporter called Mr. Action, who is helping the police train their new Masquerade Squad of undercover cops. Suddenly it is announced that Jimmy has been secretly working with the underworld, and he becomes a wanted man. (Being Superman’s pal, and an assistant with the police apparently doesn’t count for much.) He then disguises himself as a woman in clothes from a thrift shop, but is caught soon after. Surprise! He wasn’t really wanted, it was just a trial run for the Masquerade Squad (who identified him by his Signal Watch. Again.)

Not great or deep stories, but when I was reading them — Gee, if Jimmy Olsen, can dress like a girl and get whistled at, maybe, just maybe, when I grow up….


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