Friday, May 15, 2015

Patsy and Hedy's Special Graduation Issue!

Graduation season is upon us! This evening I have for you a "don't dare miss it!!" story from Patsy and Hedy #95 (August 1964), celebrating the duo's graduation from high school. I often get requests for Patsy Walker stories and though they are not quite romance, I do collect a few of these and think they're fantastic. "Patsy's Graduation Day" by Stan Lee and Al Hartley (with what looks to be more than one inker) is a cute story of dashed expectations, and female friendship in the midst of disappointment. I'd like to dedicate this post to my little sister, Lisette, who not only just turned 18, but will be graduating from high school in a few weeks! Go Lisette! For anyone graduating this year, please accept my most sincere congratulations on your huge step in the path of life! Now, on to the story...

Patsy and her friends are excited! It is nearly graduation day and for Patsy and the gang, it means an entry into the "romantic world of young adults!"

While dreaming of the future, Patsy talks with her mother about what's next. Her mom asks her if she's made up her mind as to what she wants to do after graduation, but Patsy lets her know she isn't in much of a hurry to decide and wants to treasure her last days of high school. Patsy also tells her mom that she is gunning for class valedictorian. Wisely, her mother warns her of getting her hopes up. In another house, Hedy Wolfe is certain that she will be selected as head of the class.

All that talk of the future puts Patsy in the mood to shop and before long, it's time for a fashion break! While at the boutique, "The Fashion Plate," Patsy bumps into friend Nan, and the two start trying on the latest designs (sent in by readers, as was customary for the Marvel teen humor books) in order to look their best at graduation.

Patsy finds a dress she adores, but unfortunately, it is out of her price-range at $150 (accounting for inflation, at the time of publication, that was the equivalent of about $1,135). Already downtrodden, Hedy strolls in and tells Patsy that if she isn't buying the dress, she will scoop it up for herself. Hedy winds up purchasing the dress. Patsy walks out of the store, dejected, but Nan and Buzz (who just sort of appeared out of nowhere) try to comfort Patsy. Buzz declares, "You, my ravishing redhead, are going to make me five dollars richer!" When Patsy and Nan inquire how, Buzz lets them know that he bet their classmate, Ron, $5 that Patsy would be chosen valedictorian over Hedy.

In a moment that is a little perplexing considering the top of the third page has Patsy telling her mother she expects to be declared valedictorian, Patsy goes home after running into Buzz and frets, "Gosh, I hadn't even thought about being chosen class valedictorian... But now, with Buzz counting on me -- it's become important!"

Patsy is hopeful about her chances however, because the quest for valedictorian is one that unlike everything else, Hedy can't purchase. Patsy decides that one way to ensure her success is to take a public speaking course. Another fashion moment ensues when Patsy goes to register for the class in her "new career-girl suit." Though motivated by competition, Patsy's hope for her after life after high school is commendable!

Meanwhile, Nan reflects on how glad she is that she isn't competing for class valedictorian and plans out how she'll spend her summer. Nan decides to go swim suit shopping. Upon leaving the store, Nan runs into her jolly friend, Tubs. The two discuss the quest for valedictorian, and how both Patsy and Hedy are eager to win the title. Hedy overhears the conversation and begins to panic.

Hedy decides she must launch a campaign to convince their teacher, Miss Bliss, that she should be chosen head of the class. After a dreamy montage of what Hedy thinks being chosen will grant her, Miss Bliss brings both Patsy and Hedy back to reality -- reminding them that they will not be elected valedictorian, but rather, chosen by merit.

Neither young woman is deterred by the revelation, and each feels that their grades will put them ahead. Nan feels badly for them both -- someone's feelings are going to get hurt.

The big day arrives when the valedictorian is announced. Patsy heads off to school, sure that she will be given top honors. Her little brother, Mickey is understandably put off by his sister's corniness.

When Patsy arrives at school, she feels all eyes on her. Thinking she most certainly has been chosen, she exhibits pity for a confused looking Nan.

As Patsy nears the posting, she sees Hedy. Judging from the shocked look on Ms. Wolfe's face, Patsy's enthusiasm continues to grow. Before Patsy rounds the corner to see the sign, Buzz attempts to stop her, but Patsy confidently tells Buzz he can congratulate her after. Ohhhhh boy. Not good. Not good at all. I think you can see where this is going... A dark horse has emerged -- Nan!

Patsy and Hedy come together, both shocked at the turn in events. Patsy realizes that in all the confusion they neglected to congratulate Nan. In a touching moment, Patsy and Hedy sincerely let Nan know how very proud they are of her. The night of graduation, Nan delivers a rousing speech thanking not only her parents and teachers, but Patsy and Hedy -- "two close chums whose standards have always been the highest!"

The story ends with the three friends even closer than they were before the whole valedictorian drama, and a hopeful editorial message at the bottom of the panel teases what's ahead for the three "kookiest, cutest, greatest gals in the whole wide world!"

I really like this story, even though it has some moments where motivation on behalf of Patsy and Hedy is slightly questionable. I like the message of female friendship at the end, and despite any cattiness throughout the story, the ladies are able to come together to give credit where credit is due. All in all, a cute story! I try not to collect too far outside the bounds of the romance comics to keep my collection manageable, but I may have to one day invest in the issues that follow this particular one. After this "Special Graduation Issue" until issue #108 (October 1966), the book would be subtitled "Career Girls" to reflect Patsy and Hedy's new status as working women.


  1. This issue is divine! I absolutely love your blog!

    1. Thank you so much, Celia! So glad to have you as a reader!!!

  2. Hi Jacque,

    I quite enjoy these stories, too. They are entertaining and the art by Al Hartley is attractive (inking on the story is by Chic Stone, who was doing a large chunk of inking on the superhero line in this period). Lee provided a fine dose of drama and humor to the story, and when I first read it some years ago I realized Patsy and Hedy's graduation pre-dated Peter Parker's by a year (Amazing Spider-Man # 28, June 1965), and plotter Steve Ditko did a tremendous job capturing the emotions of the characters in that story, with Stan's dialogue hitting all the right notes.

    Congratulations to your sister on HER Graduation. I wish her the best on the road ahead.

    1. At first I thought maybe there was more than one inker on this story, since it is a little inconsistent in places, but thanks for clearing that up! I do like the cover of this one quite a bit, with the Giacoia inking.

      Thank you for the well wishes for my sister! I'm very excited for her :)

  3. Very important issued marking a shift in tone for both "Patsy" titles being published at the time. For me, this is where things got interesting.


  4. I think I'm going to have to step up my Patsy Walker collecting game, Marshall!