Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Hunk, an Orange, and a Runaway Bride - "Perfect Match" from Girls' Love Stories #158 (April 1971)

Hello! This evening I have for you a story that is rather unusual for the romance comics. Most stories of love involved rather innocent displays of affection -- a goodnight kiss after a trip the soda fountain, a peck on the cheek, or at most, a visibly clothed tumble in the grass. Presumably all necessary depictions within the constraints of the original Comics Code and practical too, considering the varied demographics of readers -- some of who were quite young. "Perfect Match" hailing from Girls' Love Stories #158 (April 1971) is different. Read on to see what I mean!


As Louise prepares for her wedding day to Philip, she cannot get a man named Kirk out of her mind -- no matter how hard she tries.


How did Louise come to doubt her marriage to Philip, you ask? Well, it all started one day at the construction site of the couple's future home -- a gift from Philip's father. As the couple examines the property, a well-muscled stranger (Kirk) catches Louise's eye.


Yup... this guy.


Later that day, Louise visits with her mother who senses her misgivings about the impending marriage. She reminds Louise what a good and stable life Philip will give her. But security means little when the gorgeous stranger consumes Louise's thoughts as she lies in bed.


Despite feeling guilt over fantasizing over another man, Louise goes to visit the construction site the next day. Alone. She tells the hunky construction worker that she is afraid of heights and silently, he takes her by the hand. When he turns his back on her, she becomes enraged. However, the stranger's coolness towards her doesn't prevent Louise from taking comfort in her fantasy of the chiseled mystery man.


That evening while dining in a crowded restaurant, Kirk asks to join Philip and Louise due to lack of seating. Philip reads his menu while Kirk essentially undresses Louise with his eyes and the two press their knees together under the table.


Louise stuns herself when she realizes she has slipped out of her shoe to start a game of footsie with Kirk. She is momentarily stunned, but quickly becomes entranced by Kirk once more when he seductively (and a bit strangely) eats an orange. After dinner and after parting ways with Philip for the evening, Louise waits in the darkness for Kirk. When he shows up, the two passionately embrace... and embrace some more...


The two daring lovebirds continue to see each other right up until the wedding. As Louise makes her way out of her house for the church on the big day, Kirk appears. After a steamy kiss, Kirk picks Louise up and puts her in his car and drives off.

"I froze... melted... was burned by my
volcanic love..."


Thinking she has been kidnapped, Philip and Louise's father call the police. When the escapees are pulled over, the officer inquires as to Louise's compliance in the affair. Ascending from her past guilt over her infatuation with another man, Louise declares loud and clear that she loves Kirk and intends to marry him. As the two speed away, Louise's father is left in a state of bewilderment.

Interesting, no?! Between the images and the text, "Perfect Match" reads unlike most romance comic book stories from the '60s and '70s. Few are so blatantly sexy, mildly erotic, and full of potential euphemisms. Though the Comics Code had been loosened somewhat in early 1971, this story when read closely, still seems as though it just slid under the radar.

11 comments:

  1. Awesome post! What a great story and I loved your commentary!

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  2. She's going to marry the man who calls her "Chick"?? Oh no! This will end poorly.

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  3. Well, we can all understand Louise throwing over Philip for just about any other guy, can't we?

    I mean he's -- you know -- (whispers) a ginger!

    :-)

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  4. Ah-hahahaha! "His hard, bulging ... calf!"

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  5. I appreciate the sexiness.. but man, those are two of the most unsympathetic protagonists I've ever seen in a romance comic. The guy is built like a Tom of Finland model and looks and acts like a greaser... and Louise... ugh. I really hate the way she strings on her fiancee. Neither of them are cool at all.

    At first I thought this comic was going to be a comics analogue to early romance novels, like Rosemary Rogers (it certainly starts off in a bodice-rippery way), but then it becomes more like a low-rent late '60s-early 70s exploitation movie. It's interesting, that in romance comics-- as much as in romance novels-- that the hero and heroine must be sympathetic, and behave in ways that are 'heroic.' Kirk and Louise aren't a hero and heroine; they're assholes.

    That asides, this is a really interesting piece of history. Where did you find it, Jacque?

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  6. Hi Jacque,

    Quite an offbeat story. The artwork is sensational, it looks like the work of Tony DeZuniga. I particularly like the use of zip-a-tone, and the coloring is effective as well.

    http://nick-caputo.blogspot.com/

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  7. It does look great, but what a strange read ... I was sure there'd be a twist involving a vampire with a craving for Vitamin C.

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  8. suburbanbeatnik: The only defense I can think of for Louise was that perhaps the author was trying to portray her as someone who was "stuck" in a relationship in order to have her basic survival needs met. I didn't include it in the panels above, but there is a part where her mother tells her that she basically has little choice, since Philip will provide a secure life for her. In that light, ditching Philip for Kirk almost seems like a move of empowerment and Louise chasing after what could be, instead of just going with the sure bet - the man that everyone deems appropriate for her to be with - Philip.

    Nick: I do think that it is DeZuniga (in most panels anyway) as well. I actually purposefully left out the artist this time in order to focus on the story. I do think there was another artist involved though, perhaps at the inking level.

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  9. OK, reality check: does anybody eat an orange by gnawing through the peel? (Not in my experience...) What a metaphor!
    Thanks!

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  10. Hmmm...I can't help but remember what oranges signify in THE GODFATHER...

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