Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Twist in the Tale - Thank Goodness it Went Out of Fashion?

The issues of Young Love leading up to the death of Prize and the taking over of the title by DC are a strange lot. There are, however, some pleasant surprises here and there, like "The Twisters Led Me To Temptation". The cover to Prize's Young Love V.6 #2 (Aug/Sept 1962) attempts to convince the reader that there's a connection between doing the twist and some form of debased lifestyle, but as the story begins there's no hint of this revelation. The art in these issues from what was actually Prize's reboot of the title after a 4 year absence (I have a few in my collection) is a little different - the Simon and Kirby influence seems gone - but it kind of grows on you, with a little contemplation. Anyway this particular story starts with Kathy, a very bored teenager, looking for a "charge" out of life and not finding it in parties, fast cars, or fast guys. Incidentally, I don't think the claim at the top of the first page of the story, that Elvis started the twist, is accurate.

 Taking her parents' advice, Kathy gets a job, then another, and another - they're all boring too, and so are the dull parties she continues to attend, having nothing better to do. And it's there that she runs into Jim Parker, the guy who will change her life. He's a drummer in a band and has a nice pink car. Jim takes Kathy to his workplace, the Three Pines, a bar with a dance floor and an eclectic clientele that "ranged from beatniks to mink-clad dowagers". It's when Jim's band starts up that the resident Chubby Checker wannabe, Porky, a somewhat robustly proportioned individual, takes to the floor to get everybody started on the twist. Kathy joins in and is an instant hit, all eyes diverted from Porky to her. Porky and his partner reckon they might be onto something if they can get Kathy on board. Jim drives Kathy home and gives her a passionate goodnight kiss. Is this the love Kathy needed to liven up her life?

Kathy becomes a regular at the Three Pines and inevitably Porky asks her to work for him and Lucky, because she'll bring in the teenage crowd (the twist was apparently the first modern dance popular with both teenagers and adults). Lucky is a little hesitant about employing Kathy, until Porky explains that the kids will provide a smoke screen for their illegal gambling activities in the back of the joint. Jim has his suspicions that Porky and Lucky are using Kathy, and tries to dissuade her from taking the job, but she's an independent young woman and makes up her own mind to go ahead - why not get paid for what she likes to do? But Porky has a big gambling occasion lined up, and he's using a twist event led by Kathy as a cover. Even Kathy starts to get nervous.

Inevitably the place gets busted and Kathy ends up arrested and on the front page of the newspaper. But the judge is a reasonable guy and gives her a talking to instead of sending her down, plus he wants her to teach his wife and daughters how to do the twist! Kathy just made some bad choices about where she hung out and with whom, and that's the little lesson she finishes with as she signs off with her message to the readers.

So the story has some elements that lend an air of familiarity to the tale, but also some subculture and moment-in-history-specific details that give it a unique blend. Oh the early 1960s - what wouldn't I give to be able to go back and twist again!


  1. Is there anything kids can do that adults won't blame for all of society's ills? Seriously, though, in the upper right panel on page 4, "Porky" looks like he's having an attack of sciatica.

  2. He certainly does. It looks as though the artist was attempting to show him shifting from one foot to the other while twisting. I also like the guy defying the laws of physics in the panel below Porky twisting.

  3. From what I know, Chubby Checker debuted the dance in the form we know it on American Bandstand. Like many American dance forms and moves, the twist has African roots which were appropriated by American pop culture...

    It seems like drawing people dancing is not the easiest thing to do, judging from this story!

  4. KB: Man, this comic made me want to twist the night away. I really enjoyed it. Not quite the modern sensitivity shown to our overweight brethren back in ‘62, eh? What with a character named "Porky" being introduced as a "young, fat character" stepping onto the dance floor (he could really move for a fat boy, too).

    It killed me when that one guy had to ask, "Don't you like being kissed?" and Kathy says, "I don't know. Is that what it was?" Me, I would have probably tossed in the towel right there. I give the guy credit for taking another stab at it.

    I still say Kathy had the deal of her life, getting paid to demonstrate the twist; I don't care if it the place was actually a "gambling den." Great post and I enjoyed your commentary. -- Mykal

  5. Jacque is right. As an artist, drawing someone who is stationary, yet in eclectic shifting motion, would be a very difficult task. Sciatica would be a great compliment to me ! I was very disappointed the lead female character didn't wear white gloves in the story... I love long white gloves... hee hee !

  6. Mykal & Lysdexicuss: lolz! I think it's a shame there's such a finite number of romance comics. Luckily a high percentage of them are worthy of notice in one way or another, whether just beautiful or crazy or with significance to some aspect of life or all three. The long gloves - there's a Jack Kirby cover on an issue of love Romances that features long gloves - I'll see if I can find it... they're cool accessories for sure.