Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?

It is not that unusual for the stories in romance comics to adhere to the old adage, "you can't have it all." Sometimes, the stories have stellar art with so-so plots, and sometimes it is the story that shines, accompanied by mediocre art. Lucky for us, with "Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?" from Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969) we can have it all! In the market for a highly satisfying story with delicious art by the legendary Ric Estrada? Continue reading!

The star of our story, Felice is a well... um, how do I put this nicely? A gold digger. After turning down a date invite by her perfectly handsome office mate, Dick -- Felice recounts to her other co-worker, Myrna that her goals include finding herself a rich guy and not wasting her time on a "poor dum-dum" like Dick.

Felice is a pro-active kind of lady. Instead of waiting for a man of the wealthy class to find her, she decides to go scoop one up herself at the Lakeside Resort for millionaires. Felice realizes getting a millionaire at the resort will take spending a small fortune in itself, and has already saved the necessary funds for the vacation by skipping meals and going to movies only when asked to on a date. To demonstrate her scrimping prowess to Myrna, Felice asks Dick to lunch and manages to coax him into buying her a gift.

Lunch turns into dinner, and poor smitten Dick tries to convince Felice they should give it a shot. Instead of keeping an open mind -- Felice proclaims, "I'm not marrying anyone who can't support me in a manner to which I'm definitely not accustomed."

Seeing he can't change her mind, Dick says goodbye to Felice and she departs for her vacation. Felice quickly forms an ally on the beach who points her in the direction of a multi-millionaire with the largest mansion on the lake -- Peter Mason.

Felice tries to be patient while waiting to spot the elusive Peter Mason, and almost has her attention diverted for a moment. But alas! Only a lowly waiter beckons! Finally though, she spots Peter's speedboat and makes her way over to introduce herself.

A whirlwind romance ensues, and Felice feels the bliss. She visits Peter's mansion, eats delectable dinners cooked by the millionaire himself, spends afternoons in the pool with him and rides in his fancy sports car.

And then, tragedy strikes! The man Felice has fallen for is not Peter Mason at all, but Larry -- one of Mr. Mason's caretakers!

After being lied to, Felice (understandably) looses her cool. What ensues next only proves the other old adage is true, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned who is armed with a bowl of spaghetti marinara."

Possibly the best use of Plop in the history of comic books

The next morning, Felice heads home on the train and thinks about the events that transpired. She realizes that next time she will be sure she knows who the guy really is before taking it too far. This epiphany hits Felice hard, and she wisely conjectures that "being able to spot the real thing is half the game!" Unfortunately, her realization is much too little, too late. Upon her return to work, the real thing (charming and handsome Dick) has passed her by for the sweet Myrna, and he turns out to be the boss's son to boot!

Karma -- it will get you every time!

Well, there you have it folks! A story that not only portrays a character that gets what she deserves, but has the art chops to back it up! In my opinion, this is one of those stories that will make it hard for you to choose between art and stories in the current poll. No need to choose with this one though. Just enjoy it all!!!


  1. Jacque,

    Nice story. Truth be told, I've never been a big Ric Estrada fan, but he does nice work here, ably inked by Vince Colletta. I think Estrada's style is much more suitable to romance than superheroes.

    BTW, I loved your "Hell hath no fury..." comment!

    Nick C.

  2. again, never been a big estrada fan, but his graphic sensibilities work well for him here. I love the next to last panel on the final page. What negative space around her black hair! What a great shot!

  3. I LOVE Ric Estrada~ he makes 'simple' art look easy, but it is so hard to render such crisp clear images with such a nice aesthetic design quality. Thankfully~ Vince Colletta did a nice job inking this one; he is often maligned for trashing Jack Kirby pencils, among others. The colors are wonderful, too~ and used perfectly in the final sequence to emphasize that anti-climactic 'oh~!'

  4. Nick: It seems not everyone is a fan of Mr. Estrada (or Colletta for that matter), but it is undeniable that both of their work is definitely appropriate for the romance genre.

    I am glad you got a chuckle out of my humor -- I am just a big goofball really!

    Inkdestroyedmybrush: That panel is my favorite in the story! That bow is amazing!!! It makes me want to go out and buy one!

    Lysdexicuss: I really love Estrada also. It seems that Colletta managed pretty well with the romance -- no complaints here! The coloring of the story is great. You would almost think that all that changing background color would be disruptive, but it really just adds to the overall look of the story.

  5. The more I look at this story the more I have to say that for me it is lacking in flaws. The layouts are superb in the way they allow the story to flow so naturally through the panels. Estrada is great at postures, gestures, and capturing subtle nuances of expression and movement. How often did Estrada and Colletta work together? Colletta really takes the thick edge off Estrada's pencils and nicely balances his style. Of course, Colletta's great at all those glances himself. If I had to pick the best thing about the art in this story, I would have to say, "The eyes have it!"

  6. Jacque: I count myself an Estrada fan. His simplicity is deceptive - I love the body posture and body language he gives Felice in this one - That page when she is on the beach and the waiter comes onto her, and for that single moment she considers him - that panel with the hand poised near the face - that is exactly what a woman looks like when she is considering a man; and Estrada places that casual hand there with such confidence. Or how about that panel when she is all stretched out, reclining on her bed like a big cat - handsome and fabulously rich. What else can a girl ask for?. That's big league stuff and not at all easy to draw - and Estrada makes the grade with long smooth lines.

    Great story. Great art. Great post. -- Mykal

  7. KB and Mykal: More Estrada fans, hooray!!! Not sure how many times Estrada and Colletta teamed up, KB, but hopefully it was numerous times, right?!

  8. Well, I love Estrada, but when he drew superheroes, he got Wally Wood inks. In romance books, he got Vince Colletta. In war comics, he mostly was allowed to ink his own pencils. But when he drew Welcome Back, Kotter, he was deliciously inked by fellow romance artiste Bill Draut (for a few issues, anyway). Yum.

    Jacque--yes, there's a *lot* of Estrada/Colletta pairings. You'll be happy, I'm not. Colletta drains away Estrada's élan. All that's left is his wonderfully eccentric and lively layouts. IMHO. Obviously, your mileage may vary. And will. ;)

  9. Loved that twist ending; it really makes the story. BTW, the title is a bit of a cultural artifact; it was the signature line for a TV game show of the 1950s and 1960s called To Tell The Truth. A panel of TV and stage personalities would be presented with the amazing biography of some person, and after questioning a trio that included the real person and two imposters, try to guess who was the genuine article. After the panel had registered their guesses, the host (Bud Collyer, who also has a significate tie to comics), would say, (for example), "Will the real Edmund Hillary, please stand up?"

  10. Richard: Estrada's layouts are lively, to say the least. Thanks for reminding me about the Welcome Back, Kotter series. I always mean to pick it up, I love the Oksner covers, so I know I would love the Estrada interiors!

    Pat: That is great! I am sure that is where the title comes from! Very clever! Thanks for that little bit of trivia!!!