Friday, December 14, 2007

My Fair Secretary

No romance comic book story is complete without at least one panel that consists of naughty subtext.

The story "You're My Everything!" from My Love Story #2 (June 1951) is free of most of the underlying sexual tension that most stories of this era include. This tale is unusual in that there are no scheming bitter rivals out to destroy the innocent and love lorn ingénue.

It is not sacrifice and nobility but pity that defines the main character in this story. Terry Tyler is the smartest professional girl in the office, yet she lacks ambition and aggressiveness. No one dislikes her specifically as she is competent at her job, but her bosses and co-workers do not respect her or trust that Terry will always do her best. Terry is ignored or passed over for opportunities while choice assignments and promotions go to others who have more spunk. Terry is afraid to do more than show up and work quietly and then go home. It is only when Rod, the hot new executive at the office recognizes her potential and takes Terry under his wing does she begin to realize and believe in her own abilities.

Rod needs a smart motivated assistant to handle the heavy work. He choses Terry against the advice of his peers. Rod is a good boss and knows he could provide the proper motivation to urge urge Terry to excel in her work. Some would say that this was sexist but actually that is what a good boss is supposed to do. Today such motivation would be accomplished without a condescending hand on the shoulder but in 1951 chain-smoking, boozing and groping the honeys in the secretarial pool was an accepted part of the modern office environment. The real sexist behavior comes at the end of the story.

Soon the challenges given Terry by Rod transform her into a confident career woman. In fact, Terry quickly outgrows her role and is in line to be promoted. Now that Terry has confidence, new job prospects and her life is in order she realizes something else in her life is missing. A man! Terry is falling for Rod and worried that she will be separated from him due to her promotion. To her credit Terry does not do anything to sabotage her career so she can remain in his office. She dutifully arranges for her replacement, oblivious to Rod's amorous intentions.

Now that Terry is a success in her job and the future is wide open to her, Rod pressures her to resign and be a stay at home wife! Again, this was more or less the accepted image in the 1950s, that young women would receive enough education to run a household and work outside the home until they found a husband. Interestingly, all the young girls reading these comics in the early 1950s and dreaming of an idealized romantic future would grow up to find themselves in a very different social, political and economic realities.


  1. I wish girls still wore hairstyles that reminded me of sweet golden cake icing.

  2. Love Jay Scot Pike's art. He illustrated many great pre-code horror stories too... it's cool to see some of his other 50's work.


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