Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time Travel Tuesdays - Fawcett's Sweethearts #86 (April 1950)

Welcome to the second installment of Time Travel Tuesdays here at Sequential Crush! Young and ambitious Janie Morgan stars in this Fawcett story, "Tears in the Night" from Sweethearts #86 (April 1950).

Thoroughly dedicated to her job at Talbot Trucking (as she had been laid off quite a few times in the past), Janie humors Floyd Talbot's requests for dates, as he is the boss's son. Floyd frequently tells Janie not to take the job so seriously because soon, they will be married. Not if Janie has anything to do with it!

It becomes clear that Floyd refuses to take his position as heir to the company seriously, and when his father passes away unexpectedly, it is Janie who is thrown into managing the company. Fortunately, she loves it and has no problem mobilizing the drivers. One evening while leaving the office, she stumbles into quite the commotion -- a drifter named Dane has hitched a ride in one of the trucks and the driver is less than amused.

Luckily for Dane, Janie decides to bring him home for a little rest and recuperation. From the moment they walk over her threshold it is apparent that Janie is proud of her hard work and the many signs of success it has brought her including a car, an apartment and even a housekeeper.

Smitten by Dane and seeing he could use a hand, Janie hires him to work at the trucking company. In an effort to see him more and save him from the dangers of night-time hauling, Janie puts Dane on the day shift which causes a ruckus with the rest of the men. Dane finally convinces her to put him on the midnight shift with the rest of the new drivers. Not long after starting, Dane hears from the other guys that Janie goes on dates with Floyd Talbot, forcing her to convince Dane that it is he that she loves. Feeling reassured, Dane proclaims his love for Janie and discusses a future marriage between the two. Naturally, Dane is not the only one with plans to marry the raven-haired professional.

Marrying Floyd is not what Janie has in mind and when ignoring his proposals ultimately fail, Janie decides that she must find a way to permanently become "entrenched" in Talbot Trucking in order to keep her job and keep seeing Dane. So without wasting any time, Janie sets up a merger between Talbot Trucking and Carsone Motor Transportation -- making herself a partner. Floyd signs the paperwork without reading it. Not long after, however; Floyd wises up to her arrangement when he catches her smooching Dane -- and just as he was about to propose! Janie decides to finally stop beating around the bush and tell Floyd the cold hard truth.

Though prepared for Floyd's anger, Janie is not prepared for Dane's wrath. Confused by his outburst at her behavior, Janie tries to convince Dane that she just took what was hers for the taking.

Dane leaves her and the once prosperous Janie stands alone. Just as she decides to go chase after Dane, she sees Floyd setting fire to the company warehouse. Despite the love triangle, Dane saves Floyd. He doesn't stick around long enough though to receive a hero's welcoming and drifts out of Janie's life just as easily as he had drifted in.

Deciding she can't keep on mourning the loss of Dane, Janie continues to labor at the trucking company, even overseeing the building of a new warehouse. Janie ultimately decides to leave the company after getting it back on its feet, but is stopped by Floyd who thanks her and encourages her to seek Dane out. Taking his advice, Janie moves on down the path of life, guided by love's impulses.

In light of Black History Month, I wanted to share a 1940s/1950s romance story featuring African-American characters. Problem is (as you can probably imagine), comics during this time period were not as diverse as they were in the 1970s! I searched high and low through my collection of older books and was unable to find a single story with an African-American character. I then turned to the Digital Comic Museum where I had remembered seeing this story when I was doing some research on another Fawcett's title, the short lived and very scarce, Negro Romance.

In "Tears in the Night" we see the sole African-American character, Charlotte, in a domestic service position in Janie's home. The imagery of her standing in the doorway, hands on hips and donning an outfit very similar to Aunt Jemima is of course disconcerting to reader's today, but consistent with the antebellum-derived "mammy archetype" that continued well into 20th century popular culture.

The romance comics of the 1970s definitely become more diverse, but the notion of the protective "mammy" character is a curious one and didn't completely disappear from the romance comics as I will show you later this week... right here at Sequential Crush!

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