Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: Romantic Marriage 2 - "Her Father's Image"

There's a couple of things I'd like to say before getting into this story. First of all it is how much I enjoy those Ziff-Davis/St. John comics from the early 50s, with Romantic Marriage and Cinderella Love being two of my favorite romance titles. I especially like the ones with painted covers. Gorgeous! Issue 2 from 1950 (no month specified) appears to me to be swiping an image from a contemporary British comic, the Eagle, which began publication in 1950. The Eagle featured Frank Hampson's famous sci-fi series, Dan Dare, and although I couldn't find an exact match to the soldier on the cover of RM2, here's a couple of pics of Dan Dare to give you the idea that it might be so:

Well it might be just a coincidence but the first thing that came to mind when I saw the cover of RM2 was "Dan Dare!" Anyway, back to the nurse romance story. When Nurse Gail Gordon helped car crash victim Norman Crandall through his most critical period of recovery to the point where he could be released from hospital, she became attached to him as the product of her intervention. When he asked if she would be his private nurse she eagerly accepted, not having thought what kind of person he actually was. Therefore, although it turns out Norman is loaded and lives with his aunt in a stately home, we can't accuse Gail of gold-digging - she had no idea!

Norman's not a uniform fetishist, so when Gail sheds her nurse clothes and slips into a swimsuit, revealing herself to be a brunette bombshell, Norman instantly gets the hots for her - the very hots! And its no surprise by now that Gail finds herself head over heels in love with Norman. But then Gail notices the similarity between Norman and her father, and she resolves to complete the likeness by molding Norman's personality until it matches that of Daddy. Couple of things here - first, girls do apparently have an subconscious tendency to seek partners with characteristics that in some way reflect their father (e.g. Dad was physically abusive to Mom, so daughter ends up in a domestic violence situation herself). Secondly, there's this womanly thing of wanting to change the man of her choice into the image she has constructed of her ideal man (which sometimes manifests as wanting to reform a bad but 'really misunderstood' guy). It's hard to know where stereotypes end and reality begins in this realm.

For rich guys, yachts are kind of obligatory, as much as the stripy shirt and hat are for the yachtsman. And yachts are great places to declare undying love for your woman. But now that Gail has Norman under her spell, the transformation process has to begin. First non-smoker Norman is encouraged to take up pipe smoking. Next, he's a pacifist but Gail's dad loves hunting, so now Norman has to go along with Gail's desire that he go out and murder innocent wild creatures. Buying all the hunting gear and weapons isn't a financial issue for Norm, and neither is getting out into the wilderness to bag some game - he's got a sea plane! But suddenly events take a turn for the worse when Norman, unfamiliar (as already noted) with firearms, accidentally shoots the family lodge's caretaker, Pierre. Good job Gail's a nurse, huh!?

With good weather and Norman's sea plane, it's possible to get Pierre to a hospital in around an hour, tended by Gail. When Pierre pulls through, Gail again attributes his survival to her intervention, but here comes the reckoning. Gail thinks she's saved Norman from a manslaughter charge, but Norman has a different perspective. He gives it to Gail straight - Pierre's near death experience was directly the result of Gail trying to manipulate Norman into adopting various traits of Gail's father - okay Norman shouldn't have gone along with it, but it's not happening from here on. Gail admits she's been misguided in her actions, but she loves Norman anyway and no longer foolishly thinks he should change. A close call, and now everything should be hunky dory right? But wait - suddenly Gail's back to her scheming. Gail's dad meets Norman, and seems awfully keen to have Norm head up his Alaska oil project. Gail's back in full transformation mode, thinking that Norman will be like her Dad after all, a businessman. Norman is hesitant to accepts Gail's Dad's offer, but goes along with it to please Gail again. Things are, however, beginning to fall into place in Gail's head, and she starts to get some realizations regarding her Dad's enthusiasm for having Norman, and his money, in charge of the Alaska thing. Oh boy!

So here's the irony. Gail's dad, Mr. Gordon, is a stock swindler, and he used Norman's good name to persuade investors to buy worthless stock. The whole thing tumbles down, Norman takes the rap, and he has become like Gordon, another swindler. Gail realizes too late that she loved Norman just the way he was and should never have tried to change him. Fortunately (maybe Norman's good reputation working in his favor here) the DA has been ready to give Norm a chance to clear himself. As Gordon spills the whole story in his conversation with his daughter, Norm and the DA's representative are listening outside. Norm is cleared, Gordon is arrested, and Gail has inadvertently informed Norman that she wants him just the way he is - no more meddling trying to change him. Norman's a real gem - he overlooks all the trouble Gail has caused him starting with her assuming ownership of him at the hospital, and they're going to marry and live happily ever after. Norm is even going to ensure all those swindled investors get their money back, meaning Gordon will be out of jail in a week or so. Happy ending! But we went through some tribulations to get there for sure.

This tale delivers a lot of stereotypes about women in general, but what is the story's lesson about nurses?  Well this one assumes her successful care provision entitles her to ownership of the recovered patient, an entitlement to determine aspects of the patient's life. In this case the patient was someone she fell in love with, who also turned out to be the most eligible bachelor imaginable - money, looks, impeccable character, willingness to go out of his way to please the woman he loves, the ability to overlook faults in others. Gail's a lucky girl - lucky because what she put Norman through would have driven an ordinary mortal away on day one!


  1. Amazing that the artist could do such a great job when the writer runs wild like this. The word count here rivals some of the most verbose EC titles. Fantastic scans, by the way. It really does justice to the story, and especially those wonderful pastel colors ! Thanx for posting.

  2. The readers definitely didn't get short changed on the dialog or the narrative in this story and some others from around the same time! The whole 52 pages is a great 10 cents worth I think.

    The pages are scanned with a Canoscan 8800F at 100% and 300dpi on the default image settings, and Photostudio 5.5, which comes with the scanner. The images are around 1960 x 2800 pixels. Then I use Picasa, starting with the one click fix for color, under 'tuning'. Still under tuning I then use the neutral color picker and select an area in the gutter or margin where there is yellowing or tanning on the original paper, and use that to simultaneously whiten the blank background and the whites in the pictures. Then under basic fixes in Picasa I click 'I'm Feeling Lucky' to adjust the color and contrast. After trials and errors I have found this sequence to give the best compromise when attempting to restore the pictures to how they were probably intended to look without suffering too much from the introduction of new color castes or a completely artificial color scheme. If I'm going to put the story into Atlas ti (qualitative research software) then I resize the pages using Microsoft Office Picture Manager to around 670 x 920 pixels, which make them the right size to fit in the left hand pane on the screen with plenty of room on the right for the codes and notes, etc. I was using these resized images to post on the blog but decided to use the original scan size instead, since Blogger will accept that bigger size.

  3. Nice tip about the neutral color picker, ; I also use Picasa to color-correct, so I'll give that one a try ! All my scans are @ 240 dpi. It makes the page PERFECT for zipping and re-opening with CDisplay or some other sequential reader software.