Monday, August 24, 2015

Number 1778: The cowardly white hunter

I don’t know how many love comics John Buscema did in his long, productive career, but I believe this is the first one I’ve seen. It is from Confessions of the Lovelorn #109 (1959). The title didn’t have much longer to go — another five issues, until #114. It was written by editor/writer Richard E. Hughes and has his trademarks: cowardly hero, beautiful girl, hunky rival, in a fairly exotic setting. In this case, Africa.

I have the same dilemma I always have when reviewing these stories featuring “natives” because the Civil Rights movement was in motion at the time. It was still a few years away from its flashpoints of the sixties, but when I see stories like this I believe the natives were written in just as local color (excuse the expression). I don’t know if anyone, Hughes, Buscema, or the folks at the Comics Code, really thought a lot about it.

Another area in which public opinion has changed is in wanton killing of endangered species, but despite a splash panel with some really nice animal drawings, there are no animals shown, beyond background. All the uncomfortable elements in the story are just props for what is a fairly standard, although well-drawn, love comic story.


Ryan Anthony said...

Blech! I don't know what else to say about this story. Good art, but...oh, god, here it comes again...Blech!

On that last page, did Bert think he was using the golden lasso of truth on Blanche?

Daniel [] said...

My recurring questions for Hughes' stories and for the stories of romance comics are “Who were the intended audience?” and “Who were the actual audience?” Here you've presented a story that falls in the intersection of those two sets.

Did Hughes imagine women readers fantasizing about turning wimps into good men? Did he imagine male readers being wimps who fantasized about beautiful women turning them into good men? Did he just not think about who his readers were?

He was trying to make a living producing popular fiction on a regular schedule. He resorted to formula, which is in-and-of-itself quite understandable. What's not so understandable is the formula that he chose! I'm inclined to believe that he were rather mind-blind.

I shudder to speculate what would have emerged had he worked for Lev Gleason.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

1) It is quite strange to me, a Buscema story without Conan or at least the Avengers... I like it.
2) I like the "cowardly" hero. He's a hunter who hates to shoot animals, and bespectacled as he is, he looks like Clark Kent. I've always thought Clark could be a hero without being Superman. Being Superman is somehow castrating for Clark.
3) "Grab the white woman"... is OK. It is a document of its era's stereotypes. "Politically correct" is often a synonim for "hypocrite" or "imbecile". Imagine a film set in WW2 where you can't show the swastikas on nazi's uniforms. And you have to replace them with an octopus logo to sell action figures...

Anonymous said...

Yes, beautifully drawn. This lady has looks, money, beaus and by the last panel of page 7, we see she's quite the airplane-setter —a very impressive thing back in that day. =sigh=

Pappy said...

Box score here: three of you liked the artwork, and nobody has much good to say about the story. To Daniel, who asked to whom editor/writer Hughes aimed the story, I wonder if he knew himself. I don't know who bought romance comics in those days. Girls? Women? Some boys and men? A lot of boys and men? I have an idea, based on my own personal stereotyping of the kinds of readers I imagine. I know it wasn't me, thinking them silly girl stuff, who in 1959 would not have touched a love comic with an asbestos glove. My personal prejudices tell me that in that era he was writing the stories for an audience of mostly young women.

J D, yes, it represents the stereotypes of the era, and I don't want anyone thinking it represents personal prejudices of mine.

For everyone, reader Darci sent me an e-mail with a Grand Comics Database link to a list of 195 love comics stories John Buscema drew over his career, most for Atlas. She also mentioned that eight were fo ACG, all in 1959. That is a year Buscema was also drawing for Adventures Into the Unknown and Forbidden Worlds, also. Maybe Hughes wasn't the greatest writer, but he had several very good artists he could use.

Here are a couple of Buscema stories for ACG's supernatural comics. "The Little Men" and "Pipes of Pan", and "The Train That Vanished".

Naomi Chelsea said...

I really liked this part of the article, with a nice and interesting topics have helped a lot of people who do not challenge things people should know... You need more publicize this so many people who know about it are rare for people to know this... Success for you.....!!!

Pappy said...

Thank you, Naomi...I appreciate you writing to me. Best wishes to you.

Alicia American said...

This chick loox like me but she sure dont ACT like me yo! OMG she needz a class in selfa-steam yo ucchhh. Nice drawerings but I wuld like 2 pls re-writerize tha story LOL xoxo

Pappy said...

Alicia, dear, be careful of putting pictures into an old man's already active mind.