Sex! Readers Write for Advice on More Than Just Romance!
Most (ok, pretty much all) of the 1960s and '70s romance comics are on the chaste side. Little more than kissing ever occurs, giving the illusion that courtship of that time did not include anything more than a bit of necking. Well, that isn't necessarily true. We have to remember that romance comics weren't a hard and fast documentation of what was going on in youth culture, but rather, a reactionary attempt by an older generation to guide youth to what was considered normal and healthy. That and the fact that the Comics Code wouldn't have allowed for overt depictions of sex! However, it does appear from the following two advice columns that it was definitely on the minds of readers, and they felt romance comics to be a safe and trustworthy forum to ask their questions regarding when sex should occur in their young lives.
Our first inquisitive reader -- 16 year old "Very Victorian," asks Jane Ford how far a girl has to go to be considered "with it." Jane responds that it seems she is doing well on the dating scene, so why give out any "unnecessary free samples?" Jane also remarks at the end, "Almost every guy has to try a few things with a girl, but it's still up to her as to whether or not he succeeds!"
Another reader, "Troubled Arthur" (yes, sometimes guys wrote into the advice columns!) picks the brain of Carol Andrews as to an issue he had with Tina -- the girl he wants to ask to marry him. While away on an overnight trip to the country, Tina refused to stay in the same room with him. Carol Andrews is impressed by how Tina handled the situation and encourages Arthur to put a ring on her finger, citing that that type of virtue (in 1971) is hard to find.
What is your reaction to these? How do you think DC's editorial staff did in answering the readers' questions? I know many people overlook text pages for the allure of gorgeous illustrations, but I find these absolutely thrilling! In just a few short sentences we are given a window into a world of insecurities and doubts that the sequentially illustrated romance stories don't give us. I can't help but wonder if the editorial offices of the romance publishers weren't flooded by these types of questions, only for a few select ones to make it into the hands of readers, and ultimately, us...