Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Ultimate Romance: Cynthia Doyle Nurse In Love #68
Cynthia Doyle Nurse in Love is one of that group of Charlton hospital or medical romance books published from the early- through mid-1960s that rode the wave of enthusiasm for television dramas of the same genre and same time period - Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, The Nurses (all adapted for comic books by Dell), and no doubt others that I'm unaware of. As you've seen from some of my other posts, nurses were a common feature in romance comics throughout their history, but for a few brief years hospital romances emerged as a sub-genre all of their own. The nurse-doctor relationship that was the basis for these romances was as dependent upon the traditional male-females roles as the whole romance genre itself, and in many ways was a distilled version of it. So it seems as feminism began to influence society and change the way that relationship was seen, the hospital romance went by the wayside along with romance comics generally as both failed to adapt.
What makes these hospital or medical romance books unusual is that they are series featuring the same characters, unlike most romance books in which the stories are usually one offs. Charlton, Dell, DC, and Marvel all had medical romance series of various descriptions, although Charlton and Dell were certainly the leaders in this field. Outside of medical series, I can think of the random appearances of Jonnie Love in Charlton books, and various DC running features, like Bonnie Tyler the airline hostess in Young Romance, The Life and Loves of Lisa St. Claire in Young Love, and so on. As is the case in other circumstances, Charlton seems to have been the innovator, at least a pioneer, both of the ongoing series in a romance book as well as the medical romance sub-genre. Nurse Betsy Crane begins August 1961, with Marvel's Linda Carter Student Nurse in September '61 and Dell's Linda Lark, Student Nurse in October of the same year. DC's Mary Robin R.N. didn't begin until the September 1963 issue of Young Love.
Calculated submission was the way first wave feminism attained limited autonomy for middle class women, within a restricted professional realm led by nursing and social work. The early 1960s is near to the end of that phase, the closing of a chapter that began with Florence Nightingale and ended with Night Nurse! This story was "The Case of the Teenage Mother" from the Feb 1963 issue of Charlton's Cynthia Doyle Nurse in Love (issue #68).