Wednesday, February 14, 2007

who wants to be 1968 miss american teen-ager?

Vintage Ad #166 - Just the Good Ol' Girls, Never Meanin' No Harm
To celebrate Valentine's Day, this dip into the vaults leads to the wacky world of old romance comics. The Miss American Teen-Ager contest was one of several contests run out of Palisades Amusement Park, which closed three years after this ad appeared to make way for high-rise apartments. The contest dated back to 1960, which appears to be the vintage of the clip art of the girl dancing on the record.

Note the first "major prize award" listed, a 1969 Dodge Charger. That particular model became an icon a decade later, though not necessarily for wannabe pageant winners...


Just two good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm...

(As a kid, I had a General Lee playset, where you "charged" the car by swiping it backwards on the floor, then letting it go. The car saw more action racing down Lego landscapes or crashing into stacks of hockey cards then the plastic barrels that came with it.)

Girls' Romances was one of National/DC's long-running romance titles, running 160 issues from 1950 through 1971. By 1968, a mix of old and new material filled its pages, with the reprints featuring updated clothing and hairstyles and the same old hackneyed attitudes. The tales in this issue:

Secret Love: (artist: John Rosenberger) Margo is a lonely secretary who moons over her imaginary "dream man", while her friend Ken tells her to "come down from the clouds". While waiting for a train delayed by snow, she goes for a quick walk with a pickup artist named Rod. Convinced she's found her "dream man" ("Rod! Rod! Rod!"), Margo wastes the next few weeks waiting for the phone call that never comes. Ken calls, proposes marriage, they head off for a drive that takes them back to the train station, where it turns out Rod is a lowly waiter at a nearby greasy spoon who doesn't recognize her. The future looks rosy for Margo and Ken. No sudden appearance from a distraught "dream man". End line: "Oh darling, I am feeling better about you, me and the whole, wonderful world!"

Letter to a Lost Love: originally the cover story to a 1963 comic, with the non-updated portions drawn by longtime Spider-Man artist John Romita. Stella is convinced that her boyfriend Danny's kisses aren't what they used to be. Because his eyes aren't open while they're kissing, she is convinced there is another gal in Danny's life. Cue panel of city skyline with other women laughing at Stella. Most of the story is told in thought balloons, as nobody can admit their suspicions of each other. The topper is when Stella encounters another woman cattily handing Danny a letter in a department store. Cue more panels of Stella staring out the window in her nightgown. The truth comes out - Danny's ex Sue had kept all their love letters and wanted to meet him in person to return them, or else she would send them to Stella, in order to win Danny back. The plot failed. Danny and Stella lived happily ever after. End line: "The agony...the uncertainty was over at last...my fears had blinded me to what was really in Danny's heart...a love that would never be lost again!"

My Time to Love: (artist: Jay Scott Pike) Our cover story. the second half of a two-parter, where Karen has to decide if she loves wayward "hippie" musician Kip or upstanding Ivy Leaguer Roger (chosen by Karen's mom). Kip left town to pursue his musical dreams, so Karen winds up engaged to Roger, much to her parents approval (she might even get a sportscar for her choice!) Several months later, she hears Kip on the radio, riding high on the Billboard charts. Roger arranges for a meeting between Karen and Kip to see which man she truly loves. Winner: Kip, who had left town "to prove to myself I could stand on my own"...and taken the same college courses as Roger and told Karen's parents off. Guess who Karen winds up with? End line: "When the time for love comes, a boy suddenly turns into a man and a girl changes into a woman..."

Sheesh.

Source: Girls' Romances #136, October 1968

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