Ten years after launching, the first S&K romance comic was still going strong in 1957, with #87 (v10#3) featuring three stories drawn by Kirby. While not quite as good as the earlier romance stories that have been reprinted, they’re still fun and really well drawn. The biggest problem is that they’re too short, at only 5 to 7 pages each, to really develop the characters and multiple plot complications that the longer earlier stories did. The less complicated stories also make for few opportunities for the Kirby action sequences that frequently highlighted the early stories.
To place this issue in Kirby’s career, this is from around the time he began working at DC again, with the first few Challenger issues of SHOWCASE being dated just before this.
“Girl With Possibilities” is the lead story in the issue, and easily the best. It features Sid, a failing young theatrical producer who has been unable to put together a hit since his first few early successes. Then he meets Alice, a girl from his hometown, who he recognizes as a sure hit. He quickly sets up a new show to feature her, but becomes afraid that she’ll be signed by a bigger producer, and tries to sign her to an exclusive contract, which she says they don’t need because she’s in love with him. Sid later proposes to her in an attempt to make sure she stays with him, and we get a very clever twist at the end.
This was a lot of fun, and really well drawn. Only 7 pages, I’d have loved for this to go longer, with some very good story possibilities suggested.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Sweetheart” is a quick story, only 5 pages, and really doesn’t have a chance to get started before it ends. It features Judy, an orphaned young lady living with her father’s family. She’s considered a bit wild, and considers her cousin Harold a square, preferring to party with local rocker Happy Jenkins. Then at the end Harold announces he loves her, and there isn’t any real set-up for her turnaround. A shame, as the story looks nice (look at that shading on the last panel of page four), and has some hints of interesting characterization, but as it is comes across as lecturing about making responsible choices. Like, uh, marrying your cousin…
“Make Me Beautiful” is the story of Ruth, and I’m not sure I really get it. Maybe you have to be more familiar with the era. Anyway, she’s a plain girl who never gets any dates, and thinks it’s because she’s not flashy enough. Her mother lectures her about reaching out for false happiness, and she listens but still doesn’t find happiness. Finally she goes out in her fancy dress and meets Kevin, a sailor friend of her friend David, and they hit it off, only she’s sure he only loves her for surface appearances and breaks up with him. Of course he returns in the end. Again, there’s the hint of a really good story, but with only six pages it comes across as preaching about not being too flashy and being yourself. And again, it looks great, as good as any
A non-Kirby story, “Was I Too Possessive?”, and two text pages on romance advice and fashion round out the issue.