Friday, June 18, 2010

Visual Innuendo: The Lighthouse Cover

The cover of Lovers' Lane 11, published by Lev Gleason, could possibly exemplify an archetypal lighthouse cover because of its reduction to the basic elements, even though it departs somewhat from the usual scenario where such an object is utilized in romance comics. In the early 1950s when, despite the lack of the Comics Code, direct mention of sex in mass media for the general public was taboo, such matters could be inferred through the use of symbols. In the case of this cover, the symbolism helps explain the apparently incongruous use of a lighthouse in what appears to be a picture frame, and a very unusually shaped one at that, given the subject matter. It could be a window, again of a very unusual shape. So what we see here is a young woman preparing for her wedding, lost in meditation on the privileges she will enjoy that night with her legally wedded husband. Hence the beaming smile - not long to wait! The solid, upright lighthouse represents the subject of her reverie, encircled by a pristine, gilt-edged orifice. The older woman assisting with the bride-to-be's preparation is perhaps her grandmother, and as evidenced by the direction of her gaze and the look on her face, she remembers fondly her own earliest encounter with manhood, as she views the same scene but through the veil, representative of the mists of time. More typically, a lighthouse cover involves a couple embracing, usually kissing, in a coastal location or on board a vessel, with the building somewhere in the background, emphasizing the passionate arousal engendered by the encounter. Within the confines of romance comics, then, the lighthouse structure, and its association with the characters and plot, was used as an indirect reference to what older readers would have been able to interpret as 'off-screen' or otherwise hidden events. It was a more innocent time. I wonder what the average person from the early 1950s would think of the degeneracy of modern society's explicit norms.


  1. Good analysis. I am going to have to check on the later romance books and see if there are any lighthouse covers. Charlton always had stories revolving around yachts, so I am sure there are some there...

  2. Jacque: DC's four titles from the fifties and early 60s tended to have a few, plus Charlton from the same period. I don't remember seeing many from the late 60s/early 70s. It would be an interesting comparison.