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Are you a good nurse or a naughty nurse? – Soap Opera Romances #1

December 26, 2010

My grandmother was a nurse. Though she retired long before I was born (she and I shared a birthday 67 years apart, by the way), she remained the family medical authority throughout all of my upbringing. Whenever I had signs of a fever or any impending illness, I’d be driven the three miles to her house and brought before her like some sick tribesman dragged in front of an aged witch doctor, and once there she’d check my throat glands and peer into my mouth and tell me to say “ahhhhh” and, finally, pronounce whether I had signs of strep throat or some other dreadful malady. If I did, it was off to the doctor with me. She was a gatekeeper in that regard, the H.R. Haldeman of family medicine.

So this one is kind of for her.

This series was a last gasp for the pure romance genre, and it only reprints Nurse Betsy Crane comics from the ’60s. So while the cover date may be 1982, the ethos at play is more 1962.

The story (with pencils from Charles Nicholas) opens with a nurse coworker of Betsy’s (Diane) out for a swim on her day off. She promptly goes into damsel in distress mode when she gets in over her head, but thankfully there’s a rugged he-man with Clark Gable shoulders around to rescue her and carry her to safety:

And he’s a widower with a young daughter. There’s a lot to love here, ladies.

After the introductions are made, things take a brief, creepy turn (from my p.o.v., not the story’s):

Hopefully, when Jeff and Diane are later locked in an amorous embrace, Jeff doesn’t accidentally proclaim, “Oh, how I love you, Deceased Wife!”

Betsy enters the story when she’s giving vaccinations to Jeff and Joy. Joy’s goes just fine, but Jeff gets irritated, snaps, and then storms out of the hospital. Later, when confronted by Diane, there’s a bit of a scene:

Sure she isn’t.

Betsy turns P.I. (watch out, Magnum) and tries to uncover the reason for this sudden change in behavior. The big eureka moment comes when she talks to Joy:

The change in mood, the hydrophobia… Betsy figures it out — rabies! Eek! Being a medical layperson, I always thought that once you started showing rabies symptoms you were toast. I could very well be wrong, because according to this comic one can be cured with injections and a lot of tender loving care. And a comic book could never be wrong.

Oh, and Joy’s rabid dog and the animal that infected it are hunted down and killed. How cheerful.

Jeff makes a full recovery thanks to Betsy’s intervention and a doctor’s ministrations, and there’s a hint that he perhaps feels a little too much gratitude towards his nurse savior:

But all is right with the world — Jeff and Diane are once again reunited in love, and Joy gets a new friend, a dog replacement to go along with her father’s dead-wife stand-in:

The story’s followed by a few pages on the fulfilling joys of nursing (leaving out the bedpan unpleasantness), and then there’s this little unrelated one-page ditty — something about this era, with its moustaches and navels and free love, always makes me think of porn:

One final note on the comic — in a previous post I noted the incongruity of a fly fishing advertisment in a romance comic. This one is riddled with bodybuilding ads, common enough in regular comics but sore thumbs in this one. Here’s a whole page of them:

Just what every little girl who dreams of romance wants — bulging quadriceps. I can perhaps see the “Power Bracelets” catching on with the fairer sex, but I’m not so sure about the “Power Krusher.”

All in all, this is one of the more enjoyable romance comics I’ve read through. But I haven’t read many, so that’s not saying much.

My nurse grandmother passed away almost five years ago, a couple of weeks after the last of our shared birthdays. I miss her. She had shrunk to about the size of Yoda by the end, but she still had a laugh the size of Texas, and when I get sick I always harken back to her terse all-business examinations of my throat.

I’m not sure she ever cured anyone’s rabies, though.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 1:41 pm

    A white gal rocking the afro!

    J.A.P.

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