Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Number 1146: Just a heart throb named Bill
Poor little rich girl, Mona, lusts after hardworking hunky young pretty-boy seaman, Bill. After a rough trip through a bad launch and stormy weather, they end up adrift on the much calmer Sea of Love. I'm sure when Heart Throbs #1 was published in 1949 it set many a young girl's heart all-at-sea with the soggy saga of Mona and Bill. And maybe more than a few young guys, too. At one time love comics were the best selling comic books, published by the boat load. Few were as well drawn as this seaborne soap opera, done by a master of pin-up pulchritude, Bill Ward. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had pioneered the genre, and every other publisher jumped into the pool. They could not have sold as well as they did unless they were read by both men and women. So the soap opera is for the gals, and the sexy stuff is for the guys. Or maybe the other way around...or even a mix of both. Everyone likes a good fantasy, and there were no fantasies like love comics.
At this stage of my life when I'm retired not only from my job but relationships, I can understand the fantasy, but always find it tempered by the reality. I often thought that stories of superheroes were more realistic than the love stories I read in these comics. At the end Bill says he and Mona will have to live on a seaman's pay, and she says, "With you, darling, I'd gladly live on bread and water." Ah, that's where these comics get real phony, because she won't. I give Mona and Bill about six months; she's at home and he's at sea and she misses the privileged life of a One Percenter. Back she goes to mom and dad at their mansion, leaving poor Bill with a shipwrecked marriage.
Heart Throbs had smooth sailing from 1949 to 1972. Quality published the first 46 issues. DC bought the Quality line and kept it afloat for 100 issues more.
Another sailor named Bill, Barnacle Bill, that is, is played by Bluto, Popeye's enemy in a few dozen animated cartoons. The eternal triangle is played over and over again, with my personal favorite entry this cartoon from 1935: