This Just In: 1970s Romance Comics…Actually Encourage Liking Yourself As You Are?

Well, knock me over with a feather! After playing the link-click game for a while today (you know what I mean, folks), I ended up at Sequential Crush, an awesome blog run by Jacque Nodell dedicated to romance comic books of the 1960s and 70s, replete as they are with beautiful artwork and (sometimes) crazycakes content. I read Jacque’s posts recounting three different comics that make you feel like there’s an echo in here: “Too Tall to Love,” “Too Smart to Love!,” and “That Strange Girl.” (What, “Too Butch to Love” was taken?)

image used with permission from Sequential Crush (also, I might pose a question: where is Pink Jacket’s other hand going? Get a room, you two!)

Besides introducing great lines like “Why don’t you date a computer?” into the American consciousness, all three stories are predicated on the same formula: that a girl who fits outside the mold of normal womanhood (too tall, too smart, too unfeminine) has a sad because she can’t find a man/people think she is weird, she mopes and/or tries to change herself to fit the socially-defined standard of femininity, and ultimately finds a man who subverts her expectations by loving her for who she is.

image used with permission from Sequential Crush

While the formula for these stories is imperfect in some pretty obvious ways to me–that the girl-of-the-day’s happiness and self-worth relies on being loved for what she is by a man, that the comics code of the day (maybe) prevented “That Strange Girl” from being an out-and-out (pun intended) story about LGBT, as some speculate, the heroine has to be saved by the hero in ‘”Too Tall to Love”–it’s still kind of a heartwarming idea. A tall girl finds a community of similarly-heighted women and men to feel comfortable in, and ends up accepting that to love a man shorter than her is, hey, okay? A smart girl discovers that she doesn’t have to dumb herself down, and actually is deserving of respect and an equally smart partner? A tomboy who rejects the standard trappings of femininity is accepted for who she is by a man who doesn’t make stereotypical assumptions about her sexual orientation based on her appearance?

That’s…kinda cool. That’s…kinda like self-love and self-acceptance. That’s…kinda like embracing those who live outside the norm. The whole idea could use some work, of course–there’s more than one man in the world who wants a “brain child,” for cripe’s sake, and later in the comic he calls her a “silly little fool”–but still. It brings a little bit of a tear to my eye. Or maybe that’s the cat hair.

On a shallower note, I kind of love how in “Too Smart to Love!,” Glory’s “post-makeover” outfit pretty obviously riffs off of her “pre-makeover” outfit:

images used with permission from Sequential Crush

A fun little bit of cohesion and character design, right? Honestly, I like pre-makeover Glory better; her outfit looks less dated to me, and she would look more like a plain ol’ hipster today than someone on their way to an Austin Powers costume party. Although that turtleneck does look like a rare species of tube worm that’s slowly going to inch its way up her face and suffocate her before devouring the remains. But maybe that’s just me?

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