Sunday, July 4, 2010
The De-Evolution of Nellie the Nurse: Part III of VI
Nellie the Nurse 17 from February 1949 is one of several from the earlier part of the series that portrays Nellie as rather dumb, due to her feminine preoccupations with things such as looks and, here, romance, blinding her to the reality of what is actually transpiring. Nellie is accidentally depicted as a blond on this cover, although in earlier stories she is usually the stereotypical red-head nurse. In this issue's stories she is a brunette, perhaps having dyed her hair. Inside this book we're continuing to see the mild good girl art that we looked at in Part II of this series of posts about Nellie, with Nellie's figure becoming more pronouncedly hour-glass in shape, and her uniform starting to hug her hips as well as her breasts.
Here's another story from the same issue. Nellie's face is drawn with simple, flowing lines, and she's given big doe eyes with long lashes, a cute button nose, nicely curved lips with dark lipstick, and eyebrows of a perfect shape and color to accentuate those eyes.
By January 1950, at least on the cover of issue 22, Nellie has acquired that exaggerated hourglass body shape with very full, firm breasts, a waspy waist, well-rounded hips, full but not over-large thighs that draw into her knees with her tight skirt, and then nicely rounded calves and dainty feet. Just the kind of figure that female readers will need to buy all those girdles, uplifting bras, and weight removing or putting on pills and devices to attain. The cover of 22 is good-girl art in full swing. Nellie's surprised that Mr. O'Malley is running a fever, failing to notice that he's drooling uncontrollably simply from being in close proximity to her body with it's accentuated secondary sexual characteristics. Good girls follow all the fashion trends because they want to look beautiful, not realizing that they also look really sexy to the male onlooker. O'Malley's physiology is awakened profoundly here by the visual stimulus provided by Nellie's shapely form.
Inside 22, however, we're seeing Nellie further reduced to the simplest of components. She's starting to act really dumb. Although she's still a brunette on the cover, she's returned to being a red-head in the stories. As we'll see from the next post in this blog series, once Howie Post takes over the feature, Nellie's remaining tenure in the original comic book series portrays her as a dumb, sexy red-head. Even in this issue, the feature has become an extended slapstick gag strip with minimal backgrounds and a very basic, undeveloped plot line. Does anyone actually do any work at this hospital, or do the staff just hang around socializing all day?
Next, then, we'll take a look at Howie Post's Nellie, and discuss her continuing decline in terms of the patriarchal society's changing attitude towards the place of women in the post-WWII period.