A Win Mortimer Illustrated Tale from Marvel - "Back Street Affair!"
In a romance story, it may seem that a "happily ever after" ending can only come from the depiction of a successful romantic relationship. But what if a happily ever after doesn't come from a romantic source or at least not in the traditional sense? "Back Street Affair!" from My Love #33 (March 1975) (originally published in My Love #19 - September 1972) with pencils (and possibly inks, at least in places) by Win Mortimer is one such story.
Martha Tyler is a self-proclaimed "Miss Nobody" -- a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. She is madly in love with Nick, the wealthiest and most popular guy in town. Their relationship is one that takes place in the hush of the night, when no one else is around to witness their affair.
Martha loves Nick, but she's sick and tired of just being his girl on the side. In an unexpected move, she tells Nick to hit the road until he is willing to see her in public.
After the confrontation, Martha lies in bed, surprised with her new found strength. She decides then and there that she cannot settle -- parking and necking just isn't for her. She wants all the other things that go along with being in love and in a relationship. Who can blame her?
Martha decides to take matters into her own hands and goes to speak her mind to Nick's father, Dr. Rolfe -- the wealthiest doctor in town. It does not go well. Dr. Rolfe calls poor Martha a "cheap little nobody" and tells her to get out of his son's life before she regrets ever knowing him. The day just keeps getting worse for Martha when she runs into Nick on her way out. He is not pleased that Martha spoke with his father, and Martha is not pleased that he is a huge jerk. A slap ensues.
Despite the heartbreak, Martha is not one of those girls who just sits around and waits for reconciliation. In the months that follow, Martha works on putting together a portfolio for a teen modeling contest and prepares for her high school graduation. On graduation day, her father gives her the good news that she has been selected as Miss Teenage Cover Girl. All her hard work and determination has paid off. Within a few months of promoting the magazine in New York City, she is offered jobs with not one but four top modeling agencies.
Before plunging into the world of elite big city modeling, Martha decides to take a quick trip home.
"But before I could accept anything, I knew I had to go back home... just to be certain I'd gotten the one bad thing in my life out of my blood..."
Martha is greeted at the airport by a throng of fans. Naturally, she wonders if (and hopes that) Nick will be in the crowd to greet her. Suddenly, Martha sees a figure running towards her and no doubt is internally satisfied that it is Nick. He puts his arms around Martha and tells her that now she is a famous model, his father approves of them being together.
And in what has to be one of the most gratifying endings in a romance story, Martha gives Nick the hand and a clear, "No dice, Nick!"
And so, Martha gets her "happily ever after" but not in the traditional sense. Though she is alone at the end of the story, Martha's ending is one of self-respect. It's a pretty darn good story, elevated by the fantastic art of Win Mortimer. In a genre where stories most often end with a woman being fulfilled in her life because of a man, "Back Street Affair!" is unique. Though it is true romance comics did most often times promote marriage as the be all and end all in a woman's life, they occasionally featured stories such as this that break the mold. Next time someone scoffs at the romance comics for sending a bad message to young women -- be sure to point this tale out to them!