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.
Throughout their years of friendship, Felicia always made sure that Jackie followed the right path -- from the delicate balance of schoolwork and play...
...to 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.