Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hippy and the Cop

During the 1960s and '70s, students across the nation questioned authority. The injustices in the South made them question authority, as did the Vietnam War.

It is no surprise that romance comics attempted (though sometimes insufficiently) to follow the relevant issues of the day.

Charlton's "The Hippy and the Cop" from Just Married #77 (June 1971) does just that by pitting characters from two diametrically opposed social groups against one another.

Drawn by Art Cappello and inked by Vincent Alascia, "The Hippy and the Cop" tells the story of Barbara, a studious senior at UCLA. Her friends are into Student Power, but Barbara has no time for such things -- although she doesn't say so outright. Her boyfriend Mitch Allen comes by and sees that her friends are protesting again. While discussing the ironic violent practices of the peace groups on campus, Barbara notices a mysterious package.

Is being a cube worse than being a square?

The package turns out to be a bomb. Thanks to Mitch's cool, calm head and quick thinking, he is able to put out the fire caused by the bomb. Barbara remarks that she can't believe a boy she knows would have done such a thing. Mitch is shocked that she knows who planted the package, and asks for his name. Without hesitation she tells him -- Eldon Sayers.


The next day when Barbara gets to campus, she learns from the other students in the movement that Eldon has been arrested. The other students are suspicious and wonder how the "fuzz" found out. As Barbara mulls over who she told, she sees Mitch at a police car and realizes that her boyfriend is an undercover cop!


Barbara is furious about this revelation, and as she shouts "let me go, cop" the guys from the movement fly over with fisticuffs.


As Barbara watches in tears, the other students taunt Mitch. They even throw raw eggs at him, soiling his undercover "regular college guy" outfit. Splattered with yolk, he thanks Barbara for not throwing one at him. News travels swiftly that the students are headed to a demonstration at the administration building. They plan to occupy it and ultimately shut down the school.

The police are right behind though, with Mitch heading the operation, this time in his uniform. As the students continue to hurl insults at him, Barbara hurls one of her own -- to the students! She tells them that never liked their movement anyhow and that she was stupid for listening to them. Barbara then proclaims her love for Mitch and announces that she will be marrying him.

You are such a good friend, Lanie!

Overall, its a pretty entertaining story with a compelling cover, also by Cappello. Just as there are multiple stories of the Women's Movement in the romance comics, there are also quite a few stories of Student Power. One thing I have noticed though with the student movement stories is that they are very general and the students just seem to be protesting for the sheer pleasure of protesting. The resistance never seems to fully develops their grievances or articulate what specifically they are fighting for. I know it is a lot to ask for in an eight-page story, but I think the characters in the Women's Movement stories tend to be more convincing in their rhetoric.

3 comments:

  1. It's safe to say that for the most part the writers, artists and editors of the late 1960s and early 1970s were mystified by both the student and women's movements. Given the somewhat reactionary/vigilante nature of so many comic heroes (and the advancing age of the men doing the books), this is not that surprising. It was as the younger writers came along, like Mike Friedrich and Denny O'Neill and Steve Skeates that things started to change, sometimes for the better, although oddly nowadays some of their stuff seems more dated than the non-relevant comics of the period.

    BTW, I saw you got a comment from Irene Vartanoff, the queen of 1960s DC letter writers! I'm completely jealous!

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  2. Slew of great posts lately, Jacque. It's tough not to comment on all of them. Also, HOLY CRAP, such great people leaving you great comments. I'm nerding out over them, so I can only imagine how your brain is doing.

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  3. Pat: I wish I knew more names of people who were writing the romance stories... I think it would provide more insight into their intentions and where they were coming from. Its just too hard to tell for the most part, especially for the DC and Charlton stories.

    Getting such an in-depth comment from Irene was awesome! One of my eventual goals is to get some interviews and oral histories from people who were involved in romance comics, so it has been really encouraging to know that these people do exist!

    Mellon: Thanks so much!!! I have really been enjoying working on the posts. I just wish I had more time to do even more! The comments I am getting from everyone are so interesting and thought provoking. There are more people interested in romance comics than I had originally thought, and so many people with an incredible wealth of knowledge!

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