Showing posts with label Ace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ace. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Time Travel Tuesdays - "Out to Show Me Up" from Real Love #35 (January 1951)

Hello romance comic loving friends! I hope the day is off to a good start for you! To make it even better, I have a classic romance tale for today's Time Travel Tuesday! "Out to Show Me Up" is from Ace's Real Love #35 (January 1951) and it's a good one! You probably will recognize the splash page image from the above header! Anyhow, on to the story!

As a new bride, Sharon has big shoes to fill -- those of her new mother-in-law. Formerly a secretary in a law office, Sharon is determined to measure up to the home life husband Wally has been accustomed to his whole life.

As soon as they arrive at their new home in New York, Sharon gets to work on making their new apartment homey and organized. Wally is extremely pleased... pleased in fact, that he goes so far as to brag about Sharon's homemaking skills to their new neighbors, Jane and Harry Jenson. Sharon is thrilled that Wally and Harry find her comparable to their mothers. Meanwhile, super fashionable Jane expresses her distaste for the domestic arts, which makes Sharon cringe.

"I felt very superior as Jane
displayed her irresponsibility as a housewife..."

Soon, the evening homemaking classes that Sharon attends take over all of her spare time, which frustrates Wally who wants to have fun as young newlyweds.

"But after slip covers there were bedspreads and cooking class
got more and more interesting.
I was so absorbed in
my triumphs as a homemaker that I was totally unaware

of a growing restlessness in Wally."

The tension between Sharon and Wally builds. Finally one evening, Wally tries to get Sharon to stay home from class to watch a wrestling match on their new television set. Sharon dismisses Wally's request and goes to her home decoration class anyhow. When she gets home, Sharon is angered to see the Jensons on her couch -- more specifically, angered to see Wally enjoying Jane's company.

After Jane and Harry leave, Sharon and Wally get into a full blown fight that lasts into the evening. Sharon accuses Wally of having a thing for Jane, and Wally accuses Sharon of no longer being any fun (or "gay" as they used to say back then).

Things only get worse when Jane knocks on the door that evening claiming to be looking for Harry. Sharon assumes she has just caught her husband and Jane in the middle of a tryst. Wally tries to explain that Jane was innocently looking for Harry, but Sharon cannot be swayed. The next day, in an attempt to seek revenge, Sharon goes to the beauty parlor to get done up à la Jane and be purposefully late in getting dinner on the table. When Sharon arrives home to show off her new look and send the message to Wally that she can't do it all, she finds Wally and Jane in a compromising position on the couch.

Jane starts sobbing and runs out the door. Wally yells at Sharon for being cruel and Sharon yells at him for going along with Jane's seductive ways. Wally then retorts that it is not Jane who is the problem, it is Sharon! With her perfect homemaking, Sharon is in effect, the true home-wrecker. Wally was only comforting Jane after she got into a fight with her husband over her lack of skills as a housewife. Upset and confused, Sharon learns that Wally wants her to be more wife and less housekeeper. Fortunately, the neighbors patch things up and Jane and Sharon agree to both try to find balance by drawing from each other's positive attributes.

Personally, I really like this story -- not because I delight in seeing either woman suffer, but for all the historical insights that it exudes. "Out to Show Me Up" embodies the expectations and pressures inherent in trying to "do it all" for the mid-century woman culturally trained to be both content motherly housekeeper and doting sex-kitten. I hope this story got you thinking just as much as it did me!!!

Be sure to join me Friday for a
spooky (and romantic) Halloween tale!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time Travel Tuesdays - Dr. Wertham Speaks Out on Romance Comics!

Crime and horror comics bore the brunt of Dr. Fredric Wertham's attack, but did you know that he wasn't too keen on romance comics either? Below are a few of my favorite quotations on the love genre from Dr. Wertham's infamous book, Seduction of the Innocent!*


The experts had said that what the children need is aggression, not affection -- crime, not love. But suddenly the industry converted from blood to kisses. They tooled up the industry for a kind of comic book that hardly existed before, the love-confession type. They began to turn them out quickly and plentifully before their own experts had time to retool for the new production line and write scientific papers proving that what children really needed and wanted -- what their psychological development really called for -- was after all not murder, but love! (p. 37)


In many of them, in complete contrast to the previous teen-age group, sexual relations are assumed to have taken place in the background. Just as the crime-comics formula requires a violent ending, so the love-comics formula demands that the story end
with reconciliation. (p. 38)


Studying these love-confession books is even more tedious than studying the usual crime comic books. You have to wade through all the mushiness, the false sentiments, the social hypocrisy, the titillation, the cheapness. (p. 38)

"Trail to Romance"
Cowboy Love #10
(June 1950)


It is a mistake to think that love comics are read only by adolescent and older children. They are read by very young children as well. An eight-year-old girl living in a very comfortable environment on Long Island said, "I have lots of friends and we buy about one comic book a week and then we exchange. I can read about ten a day. I like to read the comic books about love because when I go to sleep at night I love to dream about love." (p. 39)


Flooding the market with love-confession comics was so successful in diverting attention from crime comic books that it has been entirely overlooked that many of them really are crime comic books, with a seasoning of love added. Unless the love comics are sprinkled with some crime they do not sell. Apparently love does not pay. (p. 40)

Love Experiences #18
(April 1953)


False stereotypes of race prejudice exist also in the "love comics." Children can usually pick the unsatisfactory lover just by his looks. (p. 105)


Love comics do harm in the sphere of taste, esthetics, ethics and human relations. The plots are stereotyped, banal, cheap. Whereas in crime comics the situation is boy meets girl, boy beats girl; in love comics it is boy meets girl, boy cheats girl -- or vice versa. (p. 185)

"Quicksand Romance"
My Secret Life #25
(January 1950)


I wonder if Dr. Wertham ever read any post-Code romance comics? I think he would have rather liked their wholesome nature!

*All quotations from Fredric Wertham, M.D.'s Seduction of the Innocent. New York: Rinehart, 1954. Reprint, New York: Main Road Books, Inc., 2004.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cigarettes and Smoking in Romance Comics

For anyone who has watched AMC's Mad Men, it is no secret that smoking was rampant in mid-century America. In a genre touted for its glamor and true-to-life stories, it is only natural that cigarettes and smoking were prevalent in the romance comics. I have collected for your reading and viewing pleasure, a sampling of images and attitudes from the romance comics concerning smoking. Enjoy this romp through days of yore!

Long gone are the days of advising people to smoke -- much less teenage girls! This advice from Ace's Real Love #35 (January 1951) advice column, "The Charm Corner" advises young women looking for friends to light one up in the name of comradery:

"If it's permissable [sic] in your office to take time out for a cigarette in the rest room, choose a time when some girl you'd like to know is doing the same thing. Many pleasant friendships have had their beginnings over a cigarette."

The romance comic book stories featured many a character who smoked. Sometimes it was part of the plot, and other times it was just a part of everyday life for the characters as evidenced by the following splash page from a 1964 story.

"End With A Kiss"
Young Love #41
(January/February 1964)

Two years later, in 1966, fourteen year old "Betts" wrote in to Young Love advice columnist, Jane Ford to ask her opinion on girls who smoked. Miss Ford had this to say:

"There's nothing distinctive nor talented about being able to smoke. Any fool can light a cigarette..."

"As Jane Ford Sees It..."
Young Love #54
(March/April 1966)

Though subtle, this page from a 1967 DC romance story depicts a young woman sitting at a bar with her pack of cigarettes and what looks to be a martini. Quite glamorous, no?!

Everyone smoked in this story!

"Her Last Chance for Romance!"
Falling in Love #94
(October 1967)

Even by 1970, health professionals such as Jewel (a nurse)
were depicted as smokers:

"Confessions" Episode 4
Girls' Love Stories #150
(April 1970)

The characters from the long running serial "3 Girls -- Their Lives -- Their Loves" were big smokers, as seen in the next two images. Most everyone seemed to smoke in this serial, doctors not exempt!

Episode 9
Heart Throbs
(October/November 1970)

My, my!
What a large cigarette
you have there, sir!

Episode 12
Heart Throbs #113
(April/May 1968)

Though it is not surprising in the least that the following panel originally appeared in a story from 1960 (My Own Romance #74 - March 1960); it is a little shocking that this smoking scene was not edited out of its subsequent reprinting in 1971.

"He Was Perfect -- But I Lost Him!"
Reprinted in Our Love Story #12
(August 1971)

Smoking in the romance comics seems to have pretty much disappeared from the sequential art in the early '70s, but it certainly hadn't vanished from minds of young comic book reading folk. Donna Fayne's anti-smoking rhetoric was a bit more groovy than Jane Ford's, but seems to get the same message across -- don't do it!

"At your age, you don't need any artificial turn-ons:
everything you do, think, experience and feel is a heavy scene."

"Like It Is! by Donna Fayne"
Heart Throbs #138
(February 1972)

I have to say, it is the subtle things in the romance comics that really get me excited and are so telling of the evolution of attitudes in American society!

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