Monday, February 20, 2017

[Redacted] Is Love! Part 3 of 3: "Raw Passion"

Okay, now for the story which first prompted me to devise the entire '[Redacted] Is Love!' series. We're going to look at "Raw Passion," a story attributed to Manny Stallman which appeared in True Love Problems and Advice Illustrated #24 (1953). It deals with a matter which definitely challenged the mores of the Comics Code Authority, featuring as it does, a man who bullies a woman into dating him.

We open on our heroine Jane as she is arriving at a party when a big blond man accosts her: "Why go to that party alone when you can have a good-looking escort like me?" He introduces himself as Dyke Sanders, an engineer and mutual friend of Anne Wilson, the person whose party Jane is going to. Dyke admits to stalking her: "I've been following you for blocks -- because as soon as I laid eyes on you, you did something to met that no other girl ever did!" Jane allows Dyke to accompany her to the party because although she admits in the narration captions to being afraid "it was a thrilling fear." At the party, Anne tells Jane she's lucky to have been noticed by Dyke: "Dyke's impulsive and over-emotional, but he's one of the best-looking men in town, and from what I've heard, one of the most successful!" Dyke indulges in some passionate kissing with Jane at the party.

As time goes on, Jane notes their relationship has nothing substantial - all they do is make out, they don't converse. Dyke doesn't care. Jane is also upset by how jealous Dyke can be, growing angry when he thinks someone is staring at Jane and once starting a fight with another man for brushing against his elbow. After that latter incident Dyke admits he's glad Jane saw it: "It's a warning to you that I'll never let you go!" Dyke is going on a business trip to South America for 5-6 months and warns Jane "if anyone tries to take you away from me -- I'll kill him!"

Separated from Dyke, Jane finally realizes how terrible he is but she's afraid of what might happen if she dates someone else. Jane does begin seeing other men but she's withdrawn during those dates. Finally, she meets Todd and he becomes close to her, demonstrating he cares for her. Todd is even ready to propose to her, but when Jane receives an angry letter from Dyke wondering why she hasn't been writing him she fears what Dyke will do to Todd. Wishing to protect Todd, she doesn't tell him about Dyke.

Jane goes to see the newly-returned Dyke and tries to explain she's in love with someone else, but Dyke flies into a rage. "You'll never see him again! You're going to marry me -- tonight!" He grabs her by the throat and begins to throttle her, but Todd suddenly appears and attacks Dyke: "You murdering swine! I can kill too -- not to destroy love -- but to protect it!" Dyke is beaten and slinks away while Jane tells Todd the whole story. Todd notes "What good is my love -- if you won't let it help you?" And so the couple are given a happy ending.

Now, in 1956 Harvey reprinted this story in Love Problems and Advice Illustrated #42 as "Man Fashion." Yes, "Man Fashion." Hang on to your hats (and your three-piece suits)! As you can see above, the introduction is quite different - instead of Jane's words talking about her love for Dyke, we're told "he knew how a woman liked to be treated" and instead of Dyke threatening "if anyone so much as touches you while I'm away -- I'll kill him!" He simply states when he returns they'll get married. Not quite as enthralling, is it? Jane's face has also been touched up to appear happy instead of afraid.

The introduction of Dyke in this version is a joke; instead of forcing himself upon Jane he greets her with "I beg your pardon -- you must be Jane! I've been waiting for you --" and explains he was sent by Anne to drive her to Anne's party. To drive her to the party she's already at? Pretty lame revision, CCA. This time Dyke doesn't admit to stalking Jane and drives her to Anne's party (even though the first panel of the story clearly depicts Jane about to enter the party). In this version Dyke's actions are the same but Jane doesn't resist his advances - basically, the entire story rehabilitates Dyke from being a domineering alpha male.

The panels of Jane & Dyke kissing at the party have likewise been altered. Their relationship proceeds somewhat differently as in this version they aren't constantly making out. Once again, Dyke is seen being jealous and roughs up the man who brushed against him, but this time his warning to Jane before he leaves for South America is that if anyone tries to take her away from him: "I won't stand for it!" From there events proceed the same as Jane becomes involved with Todd, then receives word Dyke has returned.

Once again, we have the CCA stepping in to minimize the violence to the point where Jane seems almost pleased to have Dyke's hands around her neck (her fetish?). Todd comes to the rescue stating: "Hold it, fella! I can fight too -- not to destroy love -- but to protect it!" And the story ends the same way.

The original story is, I think, useful to its intended audience, to tell girls that if they feel their date is placing strong pressure on them, behaves irrationally and jealously and has no interest in conversation then maybe it's not a healthy relationship. The revised version has no point to make - just that, hey, your date might get violent one day from out of nowhere and you might prefer dating someone else for no reason. Stuff happens, I guess. This revision really lets Dyke off the hook, making him calm and reasonable in panels where he was previously forceful and domineering.

Of all things, they didn't think changing Dyke's name was a priority? I'm just juvenile enough to grin every time his name appears.

Thank you for indulging me as I journeyed through these poorly-made CCA revisions in old Harvey romance comics. May you find love [redacted], [censored], and forever [rewritten]!

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