Thursday, June 3, 2010

Single Motherhood in Romance Comics - Love Me, Love My Child!

In keeping with the Memorial Day holiday of earlier this week, "Love Me, Love My Child" from Girls' Romances #153 (December 1970) seems a rather fitting story. Penciled by Arthur Peddy (according to the Grand Comics Database), this story recounts a heartbreaking realization made too late.

The last kiss between lovers just prior to parting is usually filled with giddy anxiety, gushes of affectionate emotions and the tinges of sorrow that are only natural when distance draws near. For Sheila, saying farewell to war-bound husband Jimmy was heart-wrenching. Not because of his impending absence, but because of the awful truth she held inside -- she just didn't love him.

A few days after being confronted with Jimmy's death on the battlefield and the funeral that followed, Sheila finds out in a letter that he had been keeping a secret from her as well -- he didn't love her either. However, it turns out there must have been somewhat of an attraction as Sheila was keeping an even BIGGER secret -- she was with child!

Luckily, young Sheila had her parents to help her out with baby Jimmy, but raising the child of a ghostly husband wasn't enough. Sheila takes a job in retail to not only earn money for her family, but to meet a man. And meet a man she did -- Brad Kerns: Department Store Buyer Extraordinaire.

Over time, Sheila and Brad spend more time and more time together. First as coworkers, and then as lovers. Still, Sheila cannot bring herself to tell Brad about little Jimmy. Learning of Brad's intense dislike for children does not help the situation any.

One Sunday while Sheila is at the park with the baby, Brad makes an unannounced visit. Sheila's immaturity is demonstrated when she lies about who Jimmy is. Much to her surprise, Brad seems to be intrigued by the little munchkin.

Sheila struggles with keeping her secret from Brad, but eventually she is found out when baby Jimmy falls ill and she is called home from work.

Naturally, Brad is deeply hurt when he learns the truth. Will this be the end of their relationship?

A few days later after cooling down, Brad finds Sheila and Jimmy in the park and makes her listen to his secret -- he is divorced! Brad's apparent repugnance towards children stems from his own inability to have them. Secrets pervade this story, but in the end, love wins out.

Though stories of single mothers in romance comics of the '60s and '70s aren't plentiful, others do exist. They usually involve a tragedy and a widow -- differing quite a bit from stories of single motherhood today. Though hardly subversive, they do show the range of situations in which love was allowed to blossom in the romance comics of yore.

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