Friday, March 11, 2011

Diversity in Comics: Marcy and Bunny (I)

Thanks to blogger Britt Reid, who commented on one of my recent posts, I was alerted to the presence of an African American character in the Harvey Comics teen humor series Bunny. Britt told me the first issue Marcy Sweete appeared in was #7 (February 1969), and sure enough, here's the story, which also introduces her band, The Soular System. Marcy, like Bunny, is a model, so there seems to be a bit of a similarity here between this comic and Millie the Model with her British Afro-Caribbean colleague, Jill Jerold, who first appeared in Modeling With Millie 48 (Aug 1966). But Bunny is way more than a Millie, or Archie series rip-off. A 25c giant, it ran for 20 issues straight, from December 1966 through December 1971, with a final reprise issue #21 in November 1976. It's really over-the-top pseudo-hippie flower power with extremely contrived hippie linguistics and pseudo-hippie stereotypes everywhere you turn. As a cultural artifact, it's probably the best I've encountered of its type. It has fashion pages and letters pages, even a club in which readers can be card-carrying members. Marcy, and Jill Jerold, are Silver Age African American support characters, and therefore members of a very limited category in comics.

The story that introduces Marcy and The Soular System, with its flower power lettering here and there, is a zany modeling story that ends up in a club where Bunny introduces her boyfriend to The Soular System. Pay particular attention to the last page of the story. The Soular System band members accept Bunny and Arnold as friends, upon being introduced by Marcy, so the friendship between the two young women has acted as a catalyst for the development of a wider mixed-race social group.

As Britt pointed out to me, the first Bunny issue with Marcy on the cover is #11. This issue actually contains a strange, 3-page Marcy story, that concludes a few pages later on a text page featuring a fictional interview between Bunny and Archimedes Gold, 'the world's ultra-brainiest boy inventor'. Bunny does have a portfolio of support features, such as the comedy superhero strips, Fruit Man, and Sooper Hippie, that are also interesting reads.

The 3-page Marcy story in Bunny 11 also features the other members of The Soular System, Gideon, Bomby, and Randolph, who are significant characters in their own right, and have roles in other Bunny stories featuring Marcy.

Many thanks to Masterbowler and the Harvey Preservation Society for the scans. In the next Out Of This World post, we'll be looking at another story featuring Marcy, plus her inclusion in the fashion pages.


  1. Thanks OH SO MUCH for these flashbacks! As an X-er with a Boomer older brother who collected comics and loved to draw -- especially women -- I am a fan of Miss Bunny Ball from waaaaay back. My brother even got one of his drawings into an issue, though I don't have it handy and am not sure of the issue number; I used to look at that issue regularly and feel proud to see his name in print. BTW: Which issue # was the one where she's on a kibbutz in Israel? That's the whole reason I even learned what a kibbutz was!

  2. Oh, wow -- I found his fashion design in one of your scans! It was in slide #12 out of 28 attached to your second entry about Marcy and Bunny.

  3. Cool! Glad you were able to reconnect with that issue that was special to your family!