The Bechdel Test as Applied to Romance Comics!
It isn't a surprise that most dialogue in romance comics is, well, about romance! Boys, marriage and all things courtship usually dominate the panels of our beloved genre! The following two panels from the story, "The Only Girl for Him!" from Secret Hearts #149 (January 1971) serve as good examples of pretty typical romance comic dialogue.
If one looks hard enough, however, there are the occasional panels in romance comics that feature young women talking about things other than romance! But I must admit, these types of panels that pass what is known as the Bechdel Test are in the minority. Most commonly used in film criticism, the Bechdel Test first appeared in a 1985 comic strip by Alison Bechdel titled, "The Rule." The three main qualifiers to see if movies (or in our case, romance comic book panels) pass this test are:
There must be at least two female characters
These two characters must talk to each other
Discussion must center around something other than men
The following panels are ones that I have selected because I feel they fit the terms of the Bechdel Test. Though it is expected by their very nature that romance stories center around the discussion of romantic partners, these panels show that careers, familial relations, and cultural issues were not only on the minds of the characters but on the minds of the creators -- who recognized that these issues were relevant in the lives of their readers.
Now, I am aware that three of these panels do mention men (a father, a male professor and Elton John) but I included them because I felt the males were not necessarily the point of the conversation. Even though this exercise holds these mid-century romance comic book characters up to a 1980s and later standard, it turned out to be an interesting challenge and one that proves that romance comics aren't just all fluff and talk of dating and marriage!