Monday, June 21, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: Diary Loves 10 - "Hide-Out"

Diary Loves 10 published by Quality Comics in May 1951 features a seven page doctor/nurse romance called "Hide-Out!". The artwork is reminiscent of Bill Ward, who did draw for this series, but this issue isn't credited to Ward in Overstreet, so it's maybe someone attempting to emulate Ward's distinctive style. For comparison, it's worth looking at the cover and story from Heart Throbs 1, about which I posted last year. Note the way the nurse's hair is shaded with those lines. Very Ward-ish. If anyone can identify the artist please comment.

Okay, this particular story requires a remote setting, hence the isolated rest home that this engaged couple are starting up. A young doctor and his nurse getting the place ready to open up for customers. Then out of nowhere who should turn up at their door but an escaped con and the buddy who sprang him. The fugitive is badly wounded, and his guardian orders treatment, or else!
The gangster is asking the impossible, however. The sprung jailbird, Bud, is going down fast, and Dr. Kit Marlowe knows he can't save him. Trouble is Tony Merillo won't accept failure. If the Doc doesn't save Bud, he dies, and maybe so does his bride-to-be, Janet Andrews. Tony's hesitancy to definitely condemn Janet should Bud die, along with his professed admiration for her fine visage, gives her the one idea that might just save the young couple's lives. She starts playing up to Tony, pretending she'd like to make a new life with him. Tony's no pushover, but with a gorgeous blond staring him in the face and telling him everything he'd always wanted to hear, it's only a matter of time. As long as Janet can maintain the charade, that is, which involves convincingly rejecting the life and the love that she had. Inevitably Bud expires, but just as Kit is about to blow the whole gaff, Janet changes the subject, remembering that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
Janet has to continue playing Tony's game. She suggests tying Kit up so they can go together to the kitchen, but on the way out she secretly passes Kit a scalpel, and leaves it up to him to figure out what's really going on. In the kitchen Tony wants dessert up front, and Janet has to bide her time and play along, which means giving Tony a kiss like she means it. By now Kit is free and entering the room. Janet spots him, thinks quickly, and asks Tony for seconds. During this embrace Kit has the opportunity to wallop Tony over the head with that piece of equipment no rest home can be without: a number 3 wood! Janet can finally resume her actual persona, and the harrowing experience has brought the couple closer together, accelerating their wedding plans. What an ordeal they had to go through though!
My favorite page is 6, especially panels 3 and 4, where Janet is passing Kit the scalpel. This is nice art. Quality Comics did strive to live up to their name, for sure. They had some great books in their line.

What does this story say about nurses? This one is a gorgeous blond. She's dedicated to her work and to helping her fiancee set up the rest home. She sleeps separately from him even though they are out there alone, where they could preempt their marriage, but they don't - this is the early 1950s, and it was still the accepted norm for people to wait until after they were wed. So she has moral principles. Then in an emergency she's quick thinking, resourceful, and understands her partner and how he'll think and react. She's also ready to make sacrifices for the greater good - in this case kissing a repulsive individual to give her fiancee time to disable him. She remains femininity personified throughout, however, because we know the truth about her motives even though Tony is beguiled.Overall it seems this is a positive picture of a woman as a nurse in a private setting, despite the inevitable romance with her male doctor, to whom she still is subordinate.

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