Friday, February 26, 2010

Part II: Black + White = Heartbreak!

Welcome back for a second installment on the fate of lovers Margo and Chuck! We left off with a cliff hanger of a story. Margo and Chuck. Lovers from different racial backgrounds, united in their deep and undying love for one another. Friends since childhood, these two lovers had to make a choice -- stay around their friends and families who demand they part ways, or stay together and leave everything and everyone they have ever known behind.

At the end of the sequential story in Girls' Love Stories #163 (November 1971), readers were ask to send in their version of the fate of Margo and Chuck for cash prizes. The above solicitation appeared in Girls' Love Stories #165 in January of 1972, letting readers know they could still enter into the contest.

As I mentioned in the first part of the Margo-Chuck saga, I don't have the issues that contain the readers' entries, issues #166 (February 1972) and #167 (March 1972). Lucky for us though, the ever so kind Gene Kehoe -- editor of It's A Fanzine, has #167 and was so very gracious to send me a scan of the contest page. As we move on to the second wave of fan endings, lets give a mighty round of applause for Gene!!! Hooray!!!

How do you feel about how it ended? Though I probably would have gone for a more thrilling and dramatic ending, I think DC did a nice job of acting as a catalyst for cultural change; even if it was just in the form of something so seemingly "frivolous" as a romance comic book!


  1. Black + White = $5.00 for Sharon. And half of the jokes on The Jeffersons.

  2. Jacque: If indeed DC's description of the response they received is accurate, I think it does say something important about prevailing attitudes, at least amongst those readers of DC romances who felt sufficiently motivated to respond, however representative of the general population they might be. To me it's enough to say there was a vociferous contingent in favor of moving past prejudicial racial barriers to marriage.

    I think this is a cool piece of research you've worked on here. It's a first class example of how to tease apart a popular cultural artifact to get at an understanding of the conditions prevailing in the society that produced it.

  3. Thanks KB! I can't wait to get my hands on the first batch of responses! Don't ya just wish that somewhere there was this huge archive of all the letters that DC received from readers?! What a treasure trove that would be!

  4. This effort by DC reminds me of the great speech made by Spencer Tracy at the end of 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner'; thought provoking, and it requires PARTICIPATION by we, the viewers.

    The word catalyst is perfect, Jacque~!

  5. Jacque: Your point about the "huge archive of all the letters" made me think. Today, on the net, it's hard to move for bloggers giving their opinions on how stories out to have ended, or begun, & so on. And though future historians might find those blogs of some interest in say 35 or 40 years time, those bloggers are a relatively small & relatively homogenous group. But your "huge archive" would be absolutely fascinating. Just to consider an archive of the letters to the romance comics where the issue of race was involved, for example ... It would perhaps contain material from groups not as self-conscious & practised when it came to offering opinions on comics & wider issues compared to many of today's fans. Romance comics had the potential to involve young female readers in a time when access to & participation in a discourse about race was often rarer than today, so again quite different voices might be heard. Comics also traditionally accessed groups lower down the socio-economic scale who were often less exposed to - for want of a better word - liberal thinking, so again, there might well be a host of illuminating material from people engaging - perhaps because of youth or gender or class or a mixture of those variables - in a cultural discourse relatively new to them. I would LOVE to read those letters. What a shame it's all gone ...

  6. Jacque,

    Although I like the idea of reader feedback and participation, and the winning letter was interesting, I would have liked DC to use it as the basis of a follow-up story - by the same team - detailing what happened. Comics are a visual medium, and it would have provided a perfect closure to the story.

    I also think the conclusion as written was a little weak. It would make sense for the couple to move away and start fresh, and, considering the attitudes of their parents, they would have eventually accepted their marriage. I do not believe everyone in the town would have done so. It would have been more believeable for the author of the conclusion to explain that everyone did not agreed or understand, but would have to live with their own prejudices. That would have taught a lesson as well: not everyone is going to accept you, but you have to deal with that as well.

    Very interesting stuff, and I applaud you for going "where no romance blog has gone before.."

    Nick Caputo

  7. Lysdexicuss: I need to see that movie, asap. Added to Netflix queue!

    Colsmi: Really great points about romance comics being one of the few forums that a) young women and b)those on the lower socio-economic scale could have access to progressive thinking. Maybe those letters are somewhere... just waiting to be found... *wishful thinking*

    Nick: Hey! Thanks! A sequential follow up story would have been nice, huh? Its not too late DC!!! Show us where Margo and Chuck are today!!! :)