Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Mammy Archetype Returns in Falling in Love's "Love, Love, Go Away... Come Again Another Day!"

Remember this amazing Nick Cardy cover from a while back? Intriguing, no?! Well the corresponding interior story, "Love, Love, Go Away... Come Again Another Day!" from Falling in Love #120 (January 1971) is just as memorable. Meet Jackie and Felicia -- BFFs for life.

When Felicia leads Jackie to her cheating boyfriend, Jackie flips out on her. It was Felicia who told Jackie to date cheatin' Larry in the first place and Felicia who told her to stop when she discovered his unfaithfulness. Jackie is fed up with Felicia's input! Their little squabble ends quickly however, and Felicia promises never to meddle again.

Jackie thinks back to when their friendship began and remembers how even though they were children when they became neighbors, Felicia acted as a little mother to her.

Ahem! Excuse me boys!
Jackie is a girl's name
(no matter how you spell it)!

Throughout their years of friendship, Felicia always made sure that Jackie followed the right path -- from the delicate balance of schoolwork and play... fashion, hairstyles, and dating. Jackie reminds Felicia that although she doesn't need her motherly help anymore, she does continue to need her as a friend.

Life goes on as usual, AKA Jackie goes on lots of dates that Felicia disapproves of. But the difference from the past is, Felicia keeps her opinions to herself as Jackie requested. Although Jackie appreciates Felicia's attempt to butt-out, she still can't fully enjoy her dates. Felicia's disapproval rings in her conscience.

One random day a few months later, Felicia phones Jackie asking her to come over and help her with something. Eager to find out why the tables have turned, Jackie rushes over. As it turns out, Felicia doesn't need help at all. Rather, she introduces Jackie to the architect re-designing her father's house. Jackie feigns upset with Felicia, but as usual, is grateful for her friend's caring input.

Felicia's setup turns out to be a very good thing and quickly Jackie and Dick fall madly in love. All seems to be going perfectly until suddenly Dick starts acting strangely. Jackie assumes that Felicia got to him and is trying to break them up out of her need for control over Jackie's life.

"Nothing will stop her until she's broken us up!"

Jackie finds out the truth soon enough when Felicia tells Jackie to come over to her house. Dick is there -- pacing frantically, wondering how he will break the news to Jackie that he can't marry her. Finally, he just comes out and says it. He can't marry her because he needs to have a critical eye operation and could potentially be rendered blind!

Jackie is clearly upset, but Felicia reminds her to be brave. Jackie then apologizes to Felicia for thinking that she was against her and Dick's relationship. Jackie throws her arms around Dick and declares that regardless of the outcome of the operation, she wants to marry him. Though Dick's vision is in good hands with Felicia's dad performing the operation, the morning of the procedure Jackie faints and flies of the porch as she waves goodbye to Dick.

Here is where the wheelchair cover comes into play -- Jackie's fall results in a broken leg, sending her to the hospital as well. When Dick's bandages are removed, he is quite shocked by what he sees!

Thankfully, the surgery was a success and the happy couple is free to marry! Naturally, Felicia will be Jackie's maid of honor.

Last year I discovered a pattern surrounding the depiction of many African-American women in romance comics which involved the curious injection of the "mammy archetype." Though this story posits Felicia as belonging to an upper middle class family and integrates her into a typical enough romance story, she is still depicted as being the caretaker and charge of motherless Jackie. Once again, I don't think that this mammy characterization of Felicia was necessarily purposeful on behalf of the authors, it does go to show how ingrained the notions and stereotypes associated with slavery and the Jim Crow era were, even into the 1970s.


  1. Great analysis Jacque! I wasn't aware of this stereotype until you started writing about it in relation to depictions of African American women in romance comics.

  2. That was a wowzer of a analysis, Jacque. You really need to write a book about romance comics.

  3. Thanks, guys! I really appreciate it!

    Tony: Funny you should say that... :)

  4. I follow your writing and I'm not even a romance comics fan.

  5. Jacque, hi, great story! I noticed you didn't include artist/inker credits to this story.

    It was drawn by Win Mortimer and inked by Vince Colletta.

    I have 11 of 12 pages of original art to it. Great stuff!


  6. Fraser: Well, hopefully I am turning you into one! :)

    Nick: Whooaaa! Soooo cool that you have (most) of that story. I am having trouble seeing the Mortimer in it (save for a few panels) -- I guess Colletta's inks are just so overpowering here.

  7. Jacque, hi, interestering point.
    When I purchased the story, it was sold to me as Win Mortimer.
    But on second look, maybe it was drawn by Werner Roth!?
    Where is Nick Caputo when we need him?
    nick k

  8. Here I am! I think it is the work of Roth, although some of the faces look a little odd. I don't see any sign of Mortimer, though.

    Great work as always, Jackie, and I'll be first in line to buy a romance book with you as author.

  9. Nick, Thank you! I will update the art credits on my story.
    ps: I wonder if any other artist had a hand in this story.
    Its interesting, when I read Jacque's review about this story, I went to look at the original pages, and I said "this is not Mortimer". So thank you Jacque too!
    And Jacque I would also love to see another romance book.
    Someone has to document this great genre of comics, that we (boys) never read when we were young. I would especially love to see the 1960s and 1970s DC, Marvel, and Charlton romance titles be featured!
    thanks again
    nick k

  10. Really interesting, i re blogged this post to my tumblr.

  11. What fun! I just love that panel of goggle-eyed Jackie hearing about the operation. And the spelling of 'absolutely' - maybe the letterer had the eye problem?

  12. Nick K and Nick C: Thanks Nick Caputo for weighing in. I think it is probably Roth too, inked by Colletta. And yay! Glad I will have you guys as audience members for the long haul! :)

    sundersartwork: Thanks for the reblog -- I really appreciate it!

    Martin: I didn't notice the misspelling until you pointed it out! I can only imagine that hand lettering must have been quite the job.

  13. The idea that Felicia is Jackie's guardian could well be intentional, though not because of any even subliminal element of racial stereotyping: it isn't uncommon for unusual family structures to exist in the African-American community, particularly matriarchy. Reasons for this are myriad, but as this blog isn't exclusively about sociology or African-American history, I'll leave out the arm chair academics and simply say thanks for sharing all this great stuff

    1. Very good point. I couldn't agree more that this may also be a reflection of matriarchal family structures that were depicted in other various forms of media. This is a part of the romance comics that I enjoy looking back on and re-examining every once in while to see if any evidence supports or contradicts my earlier thoughts. As always, Sequential Crush is a constant work-in-progress. Thank you for reading!