Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Number 1512: “Lemme love ya, Sally!”

Danger! Rape rears its ugly head in a love comic from the '50s. Dear Lonely Hearts #5 (1954) features not one, but two stories of what today we’d call date rape (or as close as you can get without having it happen). The writer(s) must’ve had a theme going here to warn girls and women that some guys don’t need a lot of stimulation to jump from gentlemen to rapists.

While Johnsie, the yokel of “Mountain Love” misunderstands Sally’s clothes and attitude as an invitation to intimacy, on the other hand Pierre, of “A Man Worth Loving” is an opportunist, looking for the first chance at Bobbie, at which he attempts to overwhelm her.

These are cautionary tales about not getting into bad situations. It’s too bad the message might not have taken with males, because we still have guys who refuse to believe that no means no, and in most cases there are no gallant gentlemen, as there are in these stories, to step in and prevent a serious crime.


Brian Barnes said...

The rape angle is interesting, but it's hard to ignore the standard evil of country folk and/or the French, which are staples of the romance genre.

At least, in the first story, they didn't give the hillbilly a crazy dialect in the text, like the French guy, who I suspected was Captain America enemy Batroc the Leaper!

Notice that with the implied violence of the rape, the solution is: more violence. And it's that very violence that finally turns the women subservient to the man. It's hard to not put 2 and 2 together and believe that had the rape gone through, the same result would have happened. I think these things are a bit darker than you'd imagine, at least subconsciously.

And that's what makes them great!

Daniel [] said...

To me, “A Man Worth Loving” looks as if Bill Everett had a hand in it, albeit not the only hand.

I guess that I see these stories as amplifying some of the pathologies of the formulaic romance comic-book stories.

By the way, Doc held the knife in lousy way for fighting. It should have been held either like a little sword, or with the edge outward (which allows for slashing, as well as for stabbing).

Pappy said...

Daniel, thanks for the advice on knife-fighting. I wondered why I always lose when I fight with a blade...I'm holding it the wrong way! Usually when I come down with it on a guy I'm trying to stab he can block my arm. Next time I'll remember to come up with the knife or use it in a slashing motion and make it more difficult to stop.

The Grand Comics Database iists Alberta Tewkes as the artist of that story, which may help explain why her drawings of the knife-fight aren't very realistic, although I've seen lots of artists make the same mistake with similar circumstances (why am I thinking of Jack Kamen right now? I must've puzzled over a knife wielding killer in a panel of his at one time.)

As for Everett, there are no credits listed for this story in the Grand Comics Database, but page five panel four disabuses one of the notion he had anything to do with it. That is as clumsy a panel as I've seen, the positioning worse than Doc's knife-fighting technique.

Pappy said...

Brian, I don't disagree with your assessment that the solution to the implied violence is more violence, but if I stumbled upon the same scene and found someone I loved being raped I'd probably use violence rather than a request to the rapist to stop raping my loved one.

But I do understand what you mean when you say it makes the woman subservient to the man. Women weren't expected to fight, not in fiction, not in real life, so they had to be protected. I'm sure in real life Sally might have been scratching, clawing and biting to get Johnsie off her, but for the purposes of this story the fantasy of her being saved by her real Prince Charming was allowed to play out.

Daniel [] said...

Pappy, you look d_mn'd good in spite of losing those knife-fights! (Or maybe you're 'shopping the avatar.)

I'd certainly agree that Everett had little or nothing to do with some of the panels in “A Man Worth Loving”; I just think that he may have been involved with others. To me, the thing looks like something on which at least three different pencillers were involved. (Then again, maybe it was just one penciller swiping slavishly from multiple artists.)

Pappy said...

Daniel, don't be fooled by the picture. I'm a carved up wreck, all my scars showing.

I believe you are correct that swipes were involved in the artwork.