Monday, September 6, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: Bride's Secrets 8 - "All Dressed in White"

I like the composition of this cover for Brides Secrets 8 published by Ajax/Farrell. It's a device you see used here and there in romance comics, with the distraught woman large and in the center, surrounded by a halo of dismembered heads whose comments or expressions reflect the situation causing distress. I'm guessing this is a comic book version of something that originated in old movies.

This story's title has a double meaning, referring simultaneously to a bride and a nurse. The young nurse suffers the familiar fainting episode on her first time in the operating theater, but the doctor's harsh response is just the beginning of an ongoing string of severe reprimands he delivers seemingly whenever in contact with Lana. He's involved with the rich daughter of someone senior in the hospital administration, but despite being the target of his scathing comments, Lana finds herself somehow attracted to Dr. Peters. It's then that an old flame, Fran Heath, rekindles his connection with her, and they start seeing each other again. Lana learns to take the Doctor's criticisms in her stride, but at graduation, with him giving the diplomas, it seems he's found one final way to humiliate her. He drops the diploma, but then apologizes and asks her out! She declines, thinking it was just his way of making up for spoiling her graduation. She's already arranged a job in another town and can't wait to get away. The next day she takes the train to her new home, only to find that  Dr. Peters has flown ahead to meet her as she disembarks. He's been in love with her for some time, but kept it under wraps so as not to disturb her studies and her chance of graduating. She can now admit that she also has had feelings for him, and it ends well as all romance stories should!

I don't know who the artist is but I think you'll agree it has some good things going for it. Some panels are particularly nice. Anyone able to give this artist an ID?


  1. This story makes me curious to know if nurses tended to stay in the profession after marriage, or if they abandoned it (whether voluntarily or by force like flight attendants)? Do you know, KB?

  2. This is something I'm definitely interested in finding out. I came into this topic of nurses in comics through other research I've been doing on the public image of the nursing profession, and the sense I get is that it was kind of expected (by society) that women would leave nursing when they got married and especially when they had children. Hence we see it in the popular media. That gradually changed with the Women's Movement from the late 60s onwards, but you see that stereotype of the 'Battleaxe' - it is a somewhat humiliating image of what a woman becomes if she abandons marriage and child-rearing in favor of a career. There's obviously a lot of subtle societal pressure for women to conform to the housewife/mother role and deviance is punished by some form of ridicule or belittlement. And this comes through in the comic book portrayals of nurses - the writers and artists are just repeating existing societal attitudes. In fact they capitalize on stereotypes because they enable mass communication. So my guess would be that women did abandon nursing for marriage in real life, and there may also have been an element of pressure to do so by hospital authorities who didn't want to have the 'hassle' of accommodating pregnant women or mothers with responsibilities for children. The latter, though, is only my supposition, and I would need to research this to find out what was really going on in the 40s and 50s in this regard. Nurses really are the in vanguard for female equality, so I think this is a very important issue, but I can't provide an authoritative answer just yet. Historically, nursing was at one time provided by women who formally sacrificed marriage and motherhood (nuns), so it could be predicted that such an institution would change only gradually over decades.