Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Friendly Skies: Young Romance 127 - "Another Face, Another Love"

Although I have a number of these Bonnie Taylor comics in my collection, I don't have this one, the scan of which I received from another collector. The Bonnie Taylor story suggests what life is like for a woman constantly on the move in the job of an airline stewardess. Drawn by John Romita Sr. and written by Bob Kanigher, it represents the product of a high quality team working for DC at the time (mid-1960s).

'Career girl' or 'working girl' stories are fairly common in romance comics, and tended to highlight the 'career-love dilemma', most amply demonstrated by nursing romance comics, numerous examples of which can be found on this blog. In comics, nurses were exposed to an endless barrage of handsome and/or wealthy patients, as well as doctors and interns. For airline stewardesses it was passengers and pilots that provided the potential love interest, or handsome strangers in the many ports of call.

By the 1960s, Charlton Comics were the principle purveyors of career girl romance stories, with numerous nursing romance books as well as Career Girl Romances itself. Marvel adapted their previously more cartoon-like and humorous Millie the Model and Patsy Walker titles, making them more like romance titles, and DC took the bold step of orienting some of their romance books to career girls, creating ongoing features about specific characters. In Young Love it was Mary Robin, RN, also produced by Kanigher and Romita, Sr., and in Young Romance it was Bonnie Taylor in her very PanAm-ish blue uniform.

Interesting studies can be found on the traditional airline stewardess of yore. Come Fly With Us! A Global History of the Airline Hostess, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, and Working the Skies: The Fast-Paced, Disorienting World of the Flight Attendant are some good examples, as well as the well-researched but unfortunately canceled TV Series Pan-Am. Of note on the cover of Young Romance #127 above, the first issue to feature Bonnie Taylor, is the caption that reads, "Meet Bonnie Taylor, the lovely airline stewardess, who flies in and out of romantic adventures," suggesting that Bonnie's relationships are unlikely to be long-lasting.

Just as with the Mary Robin, RN stories, these Bonnie Taylor romances are written as a kind of diary. In Young Love the Mary Robin stories actually take the form of a diary written by Mary, but with Bonnie Taylor it is more like she is the narrator of her own tale detailing the euphoria and heartache of her fleeting encounters. So here's the story that introduced Bonnie Taylor to the eager 1960s readership of Young Romance:

It's interesting that Bonnie is definitely on the look out for romantic opportunities. Also interesting is the implication that Bonnie's job will drag her away from any romance she does find. In the case of the Captain, she lost out to a girl who is located in one place. The good old career-love dilemma for the working girl.

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