Friday, November 20, 2009

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Demetrio (2) - Just Married 102

Just Married, as its title suggests, has stories about newlywed couples, a somewhat different angle from most romance comics. Usually romance comics look at the process of acquiring that permanent relationship, and once that has happened they take their leave. This Demetrio story ("A Good Fight is Fun", October 1974) is about a young couple going through an intense period of dyadic adjustment. This is post-women's lib, so there is a new egalitarian dynamic to the relationship, and the story touches on some of these issues. This is probably the most famous Demetrio cover, and my copy is damaged. If anyone can send me a large scan of a pristine cover I'd appreciate it.

The story starts on the honeymoon, with gender equality high on the agenda. The new husband seems to be having trouble letting go of his patriarchal conditioning. We're also seeing the random flowers and psychedelic patterns characteristic of Demetrio's interpretation of Jim Steranko's romance comic style.

On page 2 Kevin and Ruthie Martin, clearly a middle class couple, are dealing with commitment and trust, but we also see that Ruthie isn't afraid to retaliate physically when she feels slighted.

The power struggle is getting a bit out of hand until Ruthie sees the injury she's inflicted on her husband's face, Hopefully they'll work things out a little more calmly from here on.

One battle ends with a reminder about equal sharing of household chores, then another starts when male chauvinism rears its ugly head on the tennis court.

Kevin's assumptions regarding male superiority are going to have to be addressed. This woman isn't going to give up without a fight.

Ruth makes her point to Kevin (maybe) but in the changing room the issue is clarified, at least for the reader - marriage is about teamwork in an equal partnership.

Kevin hits back by withdrawing some of those perks women enjoy when they play the submissive, feminine role. The story seems as if it might be written by a traditional heterosexual male wanting to point out flaws in feminism.

These arguments have reached a crucial point. Are these two able to negotiate their way beyond it, share in compromise, and reach a positive and mutually acceptable understanding about their relationship?

The story ends with a marriage counselor's dream come true. Kevin does get the point, and Ruth realizes she might have been a little harsh in her interpretation of Kevin's behavior, although from his admission it's clear that his attitudes stemmed from his upbringing in a home with traditional gender roles. The conclusion that can perhaps be drawn from this one is that heterosexual marriage can still have romance and be rewarding with the new status quo where the gender role playing field has been leveled.

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