Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nurse Romance Stories: Teen-Age Romances 2 - "I Dared to Kiss and Tell"

This absolute classic Matt Baker masterpiece has it all in terms of nursing stereotypes from the period. This particular story appears to have been the inspiration for many hospital romance tales in later comics. Dated April 1949, this is an early romance comic, and one of the very best, being published by St. John. There's a bunch of notable things going on right there on the cover - we have the stereotypically red-headed young nurse in love with the handsome young doctor (the main reason for going into nursing, right!?), and the older. plain-looking, grumpy 'battle-axe' of a senior nurse - that's what those young career girls become if they don't take advantage of the opportunities for marriage that are earned by their hard work in nursing school. The student nurse is being trained up to be a 'doctor's handmaiden', the standard image of nurses that became prevalent in the 1950s and fodder for all those popular hospital romance novels and TV dramas. Inside we get a glimpse of life as a student nurse at the end of the 1940s - living in hospital accommodation with her comings and goings policed; menial work like washing floors, good training for subservience to her patriarchal masters; the notion that this is all very temporary anyway - marriage is just around the corner. Great stuff, but especially because it's all drawn by one of the masters of the art form, the great Matt Baker! A big thanks to the Digital Comic Museum for the scans, courtesy of JVJ.

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