Charlton Romance Comics Take on Alcoholism - One for the Road

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Ah, cautionary tales! As readers today, these tend to be the types of stories that help give the impression that romance comics were tone deaf to the needs of teen readers -- no matter how well-meaning. "One for the Road" from Charlton's For Lovers Only #81 (October 1975) is one such story. I believe this to be a reprint (or commissioned sometime in the 1960s), due to the mod clothing worn by the characters. There appears to be a signature on the splash page, but I am unable to identify the artist at this time.

Before we dive in, it's worth pointing out the narration at the top of the page as an indicator of where the story is going to go:

In this era of pot, acid, tranks, and all the other
garbage some kids do, I had to go and get involved with one of the deadliest things of all... booze!

I don't know about you but in my mind, dropping acid seems a bit riskier than indulging in a glass of wine (responsibly of course), but alas! Charlton did here what they did best... baffle. Interestingly enough, just a few years earlier, Charlton and its signature character Jonnie Love gave a sequential lecture on the danger of narcotics. Anyhow! Let's move on to today's story!

As you already saw n the splash page, Eve has tried wine for the first time... and well, she likes it. Like, really likes it. Reb, the man who introduced Eve to alcohol and is quickly becoming the object of her affection, tries to get her to slow down.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that Eve is an alcoholic. Reb's ensuing quest to get Eve off the sauce proves fruitless.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Eve's girlfriends can't even convince her to take it easy.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Eve grows increasingly irritated with the concerns of those around her. She pays no mind to them, however, and continues to revel in her new found hobby. 

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Reb grows especially concerned when Eve tells him one day that she "needs" a drink. Eve doesn't see Reb's concern for her, as she feels that he is just "preaching" at her. Eve flips out on him, gets out of his car, and tells him to get out of her life. She then flags down a passing car in hopes they will drive her back to town.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

The car that picks her up (Eve clearly didn't read the DC story on the dangers of hitchhiking!) contains two sketchy men, but Eve gets in with them anyway. The three head to a bar, and the men proceed to buy Eve drink after drink. When one moves in on her, she demands that the men let her out to get a taxi. The guys pull over and as she runs off, a police officer passes in his squad car. Eve expresses her displeasure to the cop in all the "rat finks" around her. Taking pity on the distraught young woman the cop calls a taxi, and lets Eve sit in his car until her ride shows.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

When Eve arrives home, her mother expresses concern with Eve's drinking, blaming it on Reb. Eve explains to her that Reb tried to warn her, but she got hooked despite his admonitions. Having had enough of being questioned, Eve heads out for a martini. Suddenly, Reb shows up and declares his love for Eve... the sober Eve. Reb lets her know how much he wants to marry her, but first, she must get on the wagon. Reb takes Eve to a doctor, who promptly prescribes her a "mild tranquilizer" and assures her that the pounds she's packed on during her bender will melt away.

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

Upon leaving the doctor's office, Reb suggests he and his sweetheart go to city hall and get married immediately. Eve convinces Reb that they should wait a month to make sure she is "cured," and so that she can lose the weight she gained so she will look good on their honeymoon. The two kiss, and presumably, live happily ever after with not a drop to drink. 

 Romance comic books and serious issues alcoholism Charlton comics

While I know this is just a comic book story, the implication that curing alcoholism with the snap of a finger and tranquilizers seems like a more damaging message to me than no message at all. Though the story is beautifully illustrated and gets its point across well enough, for me, the Win Mortimer illustrated cautionary tale, "Pajama Party: The Night I Wish Never Happened" is far more impactful.

Either way, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into the wacky world that is Charlton! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this story!