Another article from my Tumblr:
Many people cite Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein as being their first glimpse into the idea of open relationships. I’ve never read it myself. My introduction to the possibility that there can be relationships other than monogamous ones came from an unlikely source. Comic books.
Many of us grew up on the misadventures of Archie Andrews and his gang of teen-aged friends. It was so fascinating to me that Archie (and Reggie) was dating both Betty and Veronica but he also had a wide dating pool outside of the two girls. Of course it was all supposed to be innocent but there was a lot of making out going on. It didn’t exactly make me question monogamy outright but it planted the seed in many ways. That affection and attraction need not be with just one person.
As and aside, recently Archie Comics have been exploring what would happen if Archie married either Betty or Veronica. Some of the promotional art have been rather poly in their imagery.
The other famous love triangle, at least to comic readers my age, was the one between Superman, Lois Lane and Lana Lang.
Throughout most of the 50’s and well into the 90’s Superman was involved in a love triangle between Lois and Lana. He spent most of that time avoiding marrying either one of them. He was often torn between having to make a choice but even then a small thought in my mind wondered why he had to really choose. He was happy with both of them. Seemed unfair to me that he’d have to hurt one to make the other one happy.
However, as a young comic reader in the 80’s it was these pages:
That made me very aware of the real possibilities of open relationships. Here and in the following pages of Elf Quest sex and romantic relationships were shown to be open and playful. Jealousies existed of course but for the most part love and sex was shared where it was desired without judgment. It was a huge revelation to me. This was very different from the open dating of Archie and Superman. This was openness within the parameters of a committed relationship.
Returning to Superman many years later there was an Elseworlds (a DC imprint that explored alternate versions of their characters) series, Whom Gods Destroy, where at the conclusion Superman, Lois and Lana form a triad and live on the moon. I remember reading that and being so happy for them. The stupid love triangle and childish jealousy games were over and done with. Of course it was only an “imaginary” story but it still opened my eyes even wider.
The rest of my transformation came about in other ways but I credit comics for opening the doorway all those years ago.
And what the heck, one more Archie: