Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Selling Romance - Dusty and Skye Dolls from Kenner

I don't know how things went for you, but February totally flew by for me -- even with the extra day today! I didn't get a chance to post even half of the material I had hoped to for Black History Month! But don't worry, I won't keep it from you! I will be sure to post some more of my finds concerning diversity and inclusion in the romance comics over the next couple of months. In the meantime, I do have this very cool ad selling the Kenner manufactured dolls, Dusty and Skye! Definitely geared for the younger romance comic book readers, Dusty and Skye were fashionable, sporty, and 11 1/2 inches tall!

"Both are knockouts in their trendsetter fashions!"

Ad from
Young Love #120
(Winter 1976)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Real-Life Infiltrates the Romance Comics!

Big dreams for romance
character, Debbie Williams!

But, alas! Those aspirations of
winning an Oscar came true!

Panels from the DC story, "First Prize.. Heartbreak!" which appeared in Young Love #61 (May/June 1967). Have a wonderful weekend, and if you are watching the 84th Annual Academy Awards tomorrow evening -- enjoy!

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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Few Date Ideas from the Romance Comics for a Happenin' Valentine's Day!

That time of year is upon us again! Valentine's Day! If you have a sweetheart, but aren't sure where to take him or her for the evening, perhaps one of these establishments out of the romance comics would make a nice date spot!

How about a shake at Ye Olde Soda Shoppe?

"The Wrong Way to Fall in Love!"
Girls' Romances #122
(January 1967)

Tip on down to the Tip Toe!

"Kisses Without Love"
Heart Throbs #131
(April/May 1971)

Don't be timid about venturing outside your
comfort zone at the Mexican Hat!

"A Press Agent's Dream"
For Lovers Only #61
(October 1971)

Perhaps some pasta at
Wet Noodle?

"Happy Ending!"
Young Love #82
(September/October 1970)

Seafood... pizza... dancing?!
Sounds like quite a night if you ask me!

"Love is Where You Find It!"
Heart Throbs #128
(October/November 1970)

Give your sugar some sugar
at The Sugar Bowl!

"My First Romance"
Heart Throbs #131
(April/May 1971)

Please, only emotionally stable
dates at The Freak-Out!

"Reach for Happiness - Episode 28"
Secret Hearts #137
(July 1969)

The Danceteria? The Electric Brain?
Can I go on this groovy date with you too?!

"Choose Between Us!"
Heart Throbs #127
(August/September 1970)

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Page Peterson Tackles Jealousy and Possessiveness

Another great Page Peterson advice page for you today! This time, Page counsels Marion who doesn't like boyfriend Bill chatting with other ladies. This particular page is interesting because it is one of the few instances of an interracial relationship in the romance comics!

"Do's & Dont's of Dating by Page Peterson"
Young Romance #173
(August 1971)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Romance Comics and Black History Month - Marvel's 1970 Story "--But He's the Boy I Love!"

Hey everyone! I apologize for my recent disappearance! Sometimes life gets crazy, and well -- you know how it goes! But I am back, and I have a really good one for you today to help celebrate Black History Month! "--But He's the Boy I Love!" hails from the legendary Marvel romance issue, Our Love Story #5 (June 1970) and features the extraordinary talents of Stan Lee, Gene Colan, and John Romita. After reading this beautifully illustrated story, I think you will agree... they made quite a team!

Mindy craves attention from boyfriend, Allan Stone. Unfortunately for her, Al is a promising young social worker for the Family Service Bureau with a hectic schedule and clients who depend on him. Overall, Mindy thinks that Al takes life far too seriously but she is willing to be patient.

The next morning while out, Al bumps into Mindy's little brother -- Skip -- who is truant from school. When Al declares playing hookey a "loser's game," Skip exclaims without thinking, "Wow! You're just as square as sis always says you are!" Naturally, Al is offended by Skip's off-the-cuff admittance.

Not so surprisingly, Mindy doesn't hear from Al after the run-in with Skip. Though she doesn't know why exactly she hasn't heard from him, Mindy takes the opportunity to go on a date with a guy by the name of Duke Dunphy. Duke is fun and "with it," but decidedly not Al. Duke senses Mindy is preoccupied, and encourages her to go after who she really wants. Mindy kicks herself for loving Al and not someone hip like Duke.

At some point over the days of agony while not hearing from Al, Skip reveals to his sister that he told Al she thought he was a square. Mindy laments that things turned out as they did, and wishes that things could have gone differently. The next day, Al breaks and decides to call Mindy. Al's timing is impeccable -- Skip is missing and Mindy believes he is in trouble. Al calms Mindy down and promises to find her brother.

Al rushes to track Skip down and when he finally does, Mindy's brother is in the process of being hauled to the local precinct. Skip explains to Al that the group of friends he was hanging out with decided to break into a store. Skip went along to try to discourage them from going through with it, but in the end, Skip wound up getting picked up by the police as well. Al takes on Skip's case and sees it through to Skip's acquittal.

Mindy apologizes to Al for calling him a square -- Skip's trial made her understand how hard Al works and why he strives tirelessly to help those in need. Al explains, "Maybe, in a way, doing whatever good I can do -- is having fun to me!" Mindy understands his point of view, and with that understanding, romance blossoms.

An element of this story I noticed that is perhaps worth mentioning, is the fact that Mindy appears to be the sole caretaker of her brother -- something that also occurs in the 1972 Marvel story, "I Failed at Love!" Georgia Jenkins, one of the three nurses from Marvel's Night Nurse, finds herself in a similar situation to Mindy, in which she must attend her brother's criminal trial. Interestingly, the parents of Georgia and her brother Ben are not mentioned either. Though it is never expressed why the parents appear to be out of the picture in any of the stories, it is a curious portrayal that I can't recollect seeing in other romance comic stories. As I discussed last year, depictions of African-American women as maternal were not uncommon in the romance comics (and I have a few more examples coming up this month). Though I believe these 1970s stories were well-meaning attempts at diversification, from today's viewpoint, they still border a little bit on the stereotypical. What do you think?

*Story scans generously provided by Nick Caputo!