By turns amusing and disturbing, this collection of 1960s romance comic strips provides a provocative window into male-female power dynamics as conceived by one of mid-century America's foremost comic book artists.
Ogden Whitney was one of the unsung masters of American comics, a fluent draughtsman and inventive storyteller who tried his hand at everything from Westerns to superheroes to science fiction. He is perhaps best-remembered for creating the satirical superhero Herbie Popnecker, also known as the Fat Fury, but his romance comics of the late 1950s and 1960s may be even more unique. In Whitney's hands, the standard formula of meet-cute, minor complications, and final blissful kiss becomes something very different: an unsettling vision of midcentury American romance as a devastating power struggle, a form of intimate psychological warfare dressed up in pearls and flannel suits. From suburban lawns and offices to rocket labs and factories, his men and women scheme and clash, dominate and escape, drawn in a style of scrupulous blandness that only serves to emphasize the strangeness of the material. It is darkly hilarious, truly terrifying -- and yes, occasionally even a bit romantic.