Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Mary Batson: Miss Sexy 1974
Dave-El here and welcome to my blog, I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You.
I wanted to share (for no apparent reason that I can think) of the first time I thought a comic book character was sexy.
And of all places, it was an issue of Shazam!
This particular issue in fact, Shazam!#13.
As you can see, this is one of DC Comics' 60 cent 100 page spectaculars and Shazam! was particularly well suited for this format. To be fair, most of the material in these spectaculars were reprints. And some times, the writing and art of the earlier days of comics did not always mesh well with the modern stories along side. But in the early & mid-1970s, modern tales of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family were being told in a style that was trying (sometimes successfully, other times not) to emulate the innocent sensibilities of those early stories. Classic C.C. Beck next to modern Kurt Shaffenberger was less jarring that 1950's Sheldon Moldoff next to 1970's era Irv Novick.
Anyway, this issue. Shazam!#13 came out in the spring or summer of 1974 if I recall which means that young Dave-El was a couple of years away from being a teenager. I was still young enough to still read Shazam! but old enough to notice certain girls looked...different...from other girls.
The opening new Captain Marvel story
was not impressive and made even less so by the far superior reprints that followed. Then the issue ended with one more new story, a Mary Marvel adventure called "The Haunted Clubhouse" by E. Nelson Bridwell & Bob Oskner.
Here's the opening page from that story.
OK, this is not any kind of masterpiece but the story is quite memorable for me and I'll tell you why...in a moment. But first let's deal with a couple of things for those who just read that page.
Yes, Mary Batson (who is also Mary Marvel) is a member of the Mary Marvel Fan Club. So that seems a little weird, being a member of her own fan club. And get this: the other girls don't make the connection between these two girls even thought they're hanging out with Mary Batson and later meet Mary Marvel up close. Mary is not changing her hair or wearing a mask or glasses or anything at all. The only difference between the two is Mary Marvel tends to sport a shorter skirt. C'mon, girls, they're both named Mary!
And I'm not sure exactly how old these girls are supposed to be but...building a club house? For their fan club? Really? Well, it was the 1970's. Not much to do back then but get high and build clubhouses.
Oh, yeah, the topic of this post is the first time I thought a comic book character was sexy.
Well, that brings us to this page from "The Haunted Clubhouse".
THERE! DID YOU SEE IT?!
Oh, come on, it can't just be me who sees this?
OK, you might be thinking, "OK, I can see a pre-adolescent boy getting caught up in watching Mary Marvel in her short skirt as she flits and flies through the sky." Well, yeah, maybe but this is the part of that page that caught my young eye.
Pre-teen Dave-El was enamored with this drawing. I thought this was sexy.
To be honest, little Dave-El didn't exactly say, "Wow! This is sexy!" But look at what Bob Oskner has done with his simple, subtle panel. The soft cascade of Mary's hair around her face with a gentle curve that falls over one eye enhances her unquestionably attractive features. But there's more going on here than just beauty. The expression Oskner gives her is one of resolution. Mary is pretty, yes, but Oskner delivers a girl is also pretty strong too. And that's before she transforms into Mary Marvel.
What I recognized then but was too innocent and naïve to put it into words was that what makes a woman attractive is not just being beautiful; there has to be something else going on: a sense of humor, a sharp mind, strength of character, compassion.
Mary Batson looked pretty darn cute to my young self not just because she was pretty but she was determined and ready to kick some butt...AND she was pretty, too!
In retrospect, looking back on my formative years, this is when I first thought of someone in the comics as sexy. And this is why this small piece of art from Bob Oskner speaks to me. Well, not literally, just in a metaphorical sense--
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