Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On romantic funnies

HALLIE: Confessions of an indiscriminate reader.

Am I the only one who used to read romance comic books? Becky Motew reminded us all about Katy Keene.

The comics I loved were pure schmaltz. The women wore shirt-waist dresses and pearls--yes, we're talking way back, maybe the late 50s early 60s? Invariable there was a tear oozing from the corner of an eye.

Stereotypes: good girl who gets her heart broken; bad girl who breaks the boys' hearts. But the good girl always triumphed in the end.

The good girl (she's the one crying)/bad girl (she's the one with the great clothes) dichotomy was went on to greater glory and less schmaltz in the Archie comics' Betty and Veronica.

HANK: Katy Keene! I LOVED her. And haven't thought about her for decades. I was a big big comic book reader. I got to buy one a week--they were 10 cents, right? And my sister got to buy one, too. It was about the only thing we happily shared.

I was very involved in the romances of Riverdale High of course. But I am a Veronica fan. So sue me.

HALLIE: I was SO Betty. But I wanted Veronica's hair and outfits.

But who did
you lust after? Ron or Archie or Jughead?? Actually, sometimes I think I married Jughead. Sweet, dopey, boy genius...
Did you read comics? What are the ones you loved??


  1. You know, I'd never heard of the romantic comic books until yesterday's post and today's further discussion. No Katy Keene in my backyard; I just plain somehow missed that one.

    I *definitely* read the Archie series, though. Preferred Betty (she was an animal lover) and in life probably would have gone for Archie, at least for a little while, who by name and coloring is clearly a Scot by descent ... and he had that goofy, awesome jalopy.

    I wasn't a Reggie fan--too preening, and that hair had some serious product on it.

  2. Susannah and I must be in the same demographic. I never heard of romantic comic books before either. I read enough of the Archies series to veto the possibility of naming my daughter "Veronica" which is my husband's grandmother's name.

    Everyone rooted for Betty, didn't they?

  3. They were actually called romantic comic books? I read Classic Comics..remember Black Beauty and Ben-Hur (maybe I only got as far as the b's..)

  4. Jan, I really liked Veronica. I have to say. It was a blonde thing, I think.

    And how 'bout Reggie?
    Wasn't he the rich one? I must confess, I wasn't hot on any of them. (I thought Clark Kent was handsome, actually. And Lois pretty dumb for not figuring THAT thing out.)

    Now that we know Don Draper, though, in MadMen, does that put a new light on Reggie's hair?

  5. When I was reading the Archie comics in the late 60s / early 70s, I remember there must have been at least two different artists working on the series, because one artist rendered everyone in this sort of short, stubby, rounded juvenile way (Betty's hair was very June-Cleaver-as-a-teenager, fat pigtails or ponytails behind), while the other artist used a thinner pen and drew more detailed expressions on their faces. Softer hair that didn't look like helmets. The second artist had a better fashion sense, too, and I remember that the whole cast was longer and leaner, and that Betty and Veronica looked more like those leggy (chain-smoking) Balanchine ballerinas than stubby adolescents. And Archie looked more like a boy who'd get up to something fun. A taller Michael J. Fox with a little action about the eyes.

    I definitely preferred that second artist. Makes me want to do a bit of Googling and figure out who was behind those variations on the group.

    This was the version I liked:

    And the version I didn't:

  6. Don Draper...I want him. I can't beleive I missed him on SNL

  7. There were romance comic books? Oh, ick (says my younger self). There was a short period when my buddies and I would act out Shakespeare comics--now there's a challenge. And my husband found Mexican comics (Kaliman?) useful when he was working in Mexico and had to learn Spanish fast.

  8. Don Draper - I didn't want him UNTIL I saw him on SNL, where his hair was very un-Reggie like. (It was hysterical) It took me a while, but now I'm TOTALLY hooked on Mad Men. But that's another blog.....

  9. Oh god, I want Don Draper too. I didn't get over here until just now. The BEST line between Betty and Veronica I thought was this one:

    BETTY (looking in the mirror): Veronica, do you think ARchie could ever go for a girl like me?

    VERONICA: Why yes, certainly. [BETTY smiles]. If she wasn't TOO much like you.

  10. There are stereotypes when it comes to romantic comics.