Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Humorous Side of Romance Comics: Mad Annual 4 - "Blue Confessions"

Although I really enjoy reading romance comics, and find them to be portals into the mindsets and societal norms of earlier times, I also acknowledge that there is a certain unintentional humor to be found within their ranks. I think that humor actually bottom lines at taking a laugh at ourselves as a society, because those same things that are at times funny when we read romance books, are so because they contain grains of truth. One of the characteristics of romance books from the 40s and 50s particularly is the sensationalized title - one that suggests there may be more in the book in terms of frank or explicit content that readers knew would actually be the case. It's this that an early Mad Magazine picked up on in the late 50s, reprinted here in More Trash From Mad Annual 4, of which I have only a coverless copy, from 1961.

Mad Magazine, as everyone should know, was a kind of Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but for western society of the 50s and 60s. It was pretty much the only source of truth about the way things really were, and as for many others of my generation, it had a profound impact on my world view. At once light-hearted and deadly serious, the often satirical and cynical Usual Gang of Idiots exposed every falsity in the lifestyle promoted by corporate headquarters.

This post here, though, just picks one of their gentler deconstructions. Those romance books did lead their readers on with enticing titles apparently promising spicier content. Here Mad, as usual, and with art by Wally Wood, goes the whole way in lampooning those romance story titles, with the trademark Mad twist.
Those Mad writers and artists knew the comics business so it was easy for them to pick up on some great examples of the way romance titles mislead, and then exaggerate them to the nth degree.

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