The romance story "Hitch-Hiker" that I have for you this evening from Young Romance #206 (July/August 1975) (cover pencils by Creig Flessel, and story pencils by Win Mortimer) tells a cautionary tale of hitchhiking. The story's simple message? Hitchhike and something bad will befall you.
So what happened? How did hitchhiking go from something that was rather commonplace to something that was viewed as incredibly dangerous? Among other events, in 1972 and 1973, a rash of hitchhikers were murdered near Santa Rosa, California, shocking the nation. The case of Kathy Devine in 1973, a young teenager found murdered after hitchhiking in Seattle, no doubt exacerbated the fear of the practice. A hitchhiking ban was even sought by the victim's family via petition. Though it is not certain whether this comic book story is based on any real life headline as it proclaims to be, it no doubt was intended to capitalize on the shock value of hitchhiking, and simultaneously act as a warning to young readers.
"You've read the headlines -- now here is the story --
my story of danger and despair -- and an ill-fated kind of love ---"
Sally is a free-spirited young woman. Along with her friends, she has no qualms of hopping into cars with strangers as her primary mode of transportation. That is, until she is taken on a ride that is more than she bargained for.
The people that pick Sally up range from the fatherly type, to the older cute guy. But one never knows when attempting such risky behavior who will drive by and offer a ride.
Once the men are notified by Sally that they are being followed by reporters, the driver screeches out into traffic, eventually losing the newspaper men. As the car careens out of control, Herb, the long-haired lunk tells Sally, "You'd better pray, baby!" Turns out the car they are driving isn't just any old car. It's stolen.
With just enough romance thrown in to stay true to the brand, "Hitch-Hiker" can certainly be viewed as an attempt by DC for relevancy. What do you think? Did DC bring the drama with "Hitch-Hiker" or was this story indicative of the romance genre inching past its prime? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this unusual story!
Thanks so much for reading!
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