Dick Strong vs. Kurt Johnson

This scene from an old comic book romance title is Silver Age gold and stuff like this is the reason I bother getting out of bed in the morning. Let me dissect these panels for those of you who don’t actually read the old comics so many bloggers take the trouble to post. Yes, you.

Take a look at this scene.
It’s like if Animal Planet produced a comic book and it starred frat boys and débutantes instead of Meerkats and Chimpanzees! With a minimum of posturing the Alpha Male stakes a claim on an available female of child-bearing age as his mate and stymies his challenger. Unlike in the animal world, violence is very likely if someone blocks the way to the vagina. Kurt is fortunate he backed down or he could have been seriously injured and therefore easy prey for other predators.

Now let’s break the panels down even further.

Dick Strong: Obviously, his name means Mighty Penis.

Kurt Johnson: The definition of the onomatopoeic name Curt is “rudely brief” and Johnson of course refers to the slang name for penis. Dick’s unsuccessful rival has a name that advertises his virility as sub-standard and alludes to finishing sexual congress prematurely. For some selfish reason, women seem to be concerned about that and find it undesirable in a male partner. Not that we care.

Private Property: That would be the females. Women belong to the Alpha Male, who keeps the girls around only for procreation and sandwich-making.

Don’t ever tell me these comic book creators didn’t know what they were doing.

From Romantic Story #33 (August 1956).

Land of the Lost news: Preview picture of movie Sleestaks?

Commenter Elu-Lux directed me to a preview picture of Sleestaks from the upcoming Land of the Lost movie that is currently in production. If the image is accurate the Sleestaks look a bit more fierce and scary (given the better budget) but I don’t understand the scene. If it is just a promo picture then fine, but if the image represents a scene in the movie I’m worried. The Sleestak Army looks as if if they were slumbering in alcoves in the cliff wall (the Rock people did something similar in an old Flash Gordon serial) and are waking up and attacking because someone trespassed in their hive or something.

That’s kind of worrisome to me because again, it seems as if a plot of a science fiction movie is all about the protagonists causing a problem and then being forced to clean up their own mess and then being declared heroes (See: Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, etc. etc). I have a feeling that in the film the Sleestaks will be a cautionary legend among the denizens of the LotL until zany dad Marshall wakes them up, causing many wacky chase scenes and Jerry Lewis-like mugging for the lens.

I’ll wait and see until I know more about the film but my extrapolations from what I have heard do not make me enthused about the project. I have already mentioned my misgivings and expectations due to who was cast as the lead actor.

Well, if nothing else I will be able to get cool movie tie-in toys!

Which is what the producers are counting on, darn it.

Ugly Pretty Girl

The “Ugly Pretty Girl” is an enduring cliche’ used in entertainment and will probably never fade away due to the formulaic nature of what passes for popular entertainment. The Pygmalion plot is an easy way to create drama and sympathy in an audience or reader, who, truth be told, can usually identify in some way with the trials of the character. In most of these stories the female character simply gets a makeover and is suddenly transformed from ugly duckling into a swan. This is usually done with no regard in the story to those personality traits or esteem issues that led to her hiding her assets to the detriment of her own happiness in the first place. Countless men over the ages have overlooked the obvious pitfalls of caring only for the surface beauty to discover that the object of their desire is a crazy gold-digging psycho not their one, true soul-mate.

For the male gender in stories like this the usual approach is that they remain essentially the same in appearance but have a special value that makes them stand out and then become more desirable. As an example the nerdy mathematicians in the television show Numb3rs manage to land incredibly hot, complex women because of their unique abilities and talents that distract the opposite sex from their looks and Go-Bots collections, things that would normally ensure they die alone and virgins. This plays into the perception that women are valued more for their appearance and men for their skills.

The story The Missing Key in Romantic Story #33 (August 1956) is a typical example of the “Ugly Pretty Girl” tale, including the familiar ending where after the protagonist realizes she abused the power of her new found social status only to find love in the quiet dork who pined for her when she was “unattractive” prior to her transformation.

Comic Book PSA: Tips for women on getting and keeping a job

Cinderella Love #13 (December 1953). These pages are so idealized and show a really professional working environment that is not really representative of many of the offices of the 50s I have heard of. I wonder if issue #14 had more tips for the career women of 1953 like, “So the boss grabbed your ass, shut up and take it.” and “Wolf Whistles: Pretend you like them and avoid unemployment.”