Sex Appeal in the Funnies

Posted by on March 29th, 2010 at 6:47 PM

You may not have noticed it, but I, ever on the alert for a trim ankle or a plunging neckline—I’ve noticed. Blondie is hot. And she dresses the part, too. At least in bed. Notice (upon examining our visual aid just down the scroll a bit) that the shoulder straps on her nightie don’t stay on her shoulders much. They slip off. First one shoulder, then the other.

One shoulder off has been traditional for some years; but now, both shoulders are sometimes—yes: say it—bare. Nekkid.

Blondie, the strip, has been revolutionary in the bedroom since the Bumsteads married. They have always slept in a double bed. From the very first, when they got married in 1933, they slept in a double bed. In the movies, married couples slept in adjoining twin beds, an ample aisle between them. No easy possibility for sex there. But the Bumsteads—in bed together all the time.

Despite protests from skittish readers, Chic Young, the originator of the strip, refused to be bullied into getting them twin beds. According to an article in The Saturday Evening Post, April 10, 1948, “Young holds, and the fan mail he gets from clergymen sustains him, that twin beds constitute a major threat to the solidity of marriage. He is very stubborn about this.”

And just to add a little spice to the hours of supposed repose, the straps on Blondie’s nightie slip of her shoulder.

Whooops. Ah, yes. I sneaked in an extract from Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows for comparison purposes. Notice how Jen’s bra strap has slipped off her shoulder.

The comparison is not entirely gratuitous. When Cho launched Liberty Meadows a little over ten years ago, he had difficulty with his bountiful heroine, Brandy. Syndicate officials were leary (no pun intended) (but the pun is relished anyhow) of how newspaper editors might view a buxom heroine in a strip with a funny animal population that would lure young readers to within eyesight of Brandy’s breasts. So they suggested, in that strenuous way syndicate officials have, that Cho put Brandy on a diet for her chest. And here, just below, we have the first two panels from a strip in which Brandy displays the results. The top extract is the one the syndicate accepted and distributed; immediately below are those same two panels as Cho first drew them. Brandy, as originally conceived, was busty.

Cho played the game. But he also pointed out that Blondie was at least as busty as Brandy, and I’ve attached a panel from the Young strip that seems to me to confirm Cho’s opinion.

Over the years, Brandy got her bust back. And so did her blonde buddy, Jen. Meanwhile, in other corners of the funnies page, other sexiness was transpiring. Here, for example, is Pajama Diaries from February 15 in which our heroine discusses her plan to seduce her husband for Valentine’s Day (the day before this strip was published). Raw sex, kimo sabe. But realistic married sex, too.

And below Terri Libenson’s daringly connubial offering, we have a recent instance of Dustin. I include it here because Jeff Parker’s drawing of Dustin’s mother in the third panel is a perfectly exquisite rendering of graceful femininity. The dance-step position of her feet, the tilt of her shoulders and head—all speak of her gender in those ways that attract most of us males. Cleavage isn’t necessary. (Appreciated whenever encountered, mind you—but not necessary.)

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