Ten great comic book romances – or, why did the Comedian have to beat up Silk Spectre?
– by Shawn Conner
I originally wrote this in response to the scene of the Comedian beating up Silk Spectre in the 2009 movie Watchmen. Needlessly graphic and violent, the scene brought up uncomfortable associations with headlines at the time about pop singer Rihanna and her abuse at the hands of fellow pop star/boyfriend Chris Brown.
So I thought it might be a good time to bring up some of the healthier (and by “healthier” I don’t necessarily mean “non-dysfunctional”) relationships from the comics – daily strips included. This is by no means a complete list, just some of my personal faves. If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
10. Superman and Lois Lane. A classic triangle, as Clark Kent wants Lois, Lois wants Superman, and Superman can’t reveal he’s Clark Kent. Sparks fly, Lois gets in trouble, and Supes swoops in to the rescue, again.
9. Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner. Pekar is the creator of American Splendor, a comic-book anthology of autobiographical stories with different artists illustrating Harvey’s day-to-day existence. This includes Babner, his wife, who plays a starring role not only in the comic book series but in the movie version, as portrayed by Hope Davis. (Thanks to Michael Doran, from whom I stole this suggestion.)
8. L’il Abner and Daisy Mae Scragg. Daisy Mae was hopelessly in love with the good-natured hillbilly for the entire 43-year run of Al Capp’s comic strip. She ends up marrying the rube, mainly because Abner wants to get married just like his hero, Fearless Fosdick, does.
7. The Invisible Girl and Mr. Fantastic. As members of Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four, the long-suffering Sue Storm has put up with distracted genius hubby Reed Richards for over 40 years. But with marriage therapists like Prince Namor the Submariner, Annihulus and Dr. Doom, how could they ever part?
6. Blondie and Dagwood. Blondie started out as a good-time flapper, but in 1933 she married Dagwood Bumstead. Disowned by his wealthy family for marrying beneath his class, Dagwood was forced to go into construction. The Bumsteads are still married, and have two kids, though discerning comic-strip readers might agree the sandwich jokes have run their course.
5. Maggie and Hopey. Love and Rockets, a joint venture between Jaime and his brother Gilbert, has been at the forefront of the alternative comics scene (basically the second generation of undergrounds) since 1982. The relationship, in Jaime’s stories, between sometime-lovers Hopey and Maggie, is one of the most complex, adult, and enduring in any medium. Plus, he draws women real well.
4. R. Crumb and Aline-Kominsky Crumb. If you believe (and why wouldn’t you) what they tell us in their co-created comic Dirty Laundry, the first couple of underground comix lead a pretty complex, open relationship themselves, but in real life—and in France.
3. Archie, Betty… and Veronica. What’s up with these three? They’re like in the longest-running three-way (unconsummated) courtship ever. Something’s gotta give! Poor Arch.
2. Popeye and Olive Oyl. Surely one of the longest-running romances, and the strangest, in comic strips: the uncouth sailor addicted to spinach and a “flat-chested flirt with a dowdy sense of style,” writes Rachel Kopp. “There are several issues in Popeye and Olive Oyl’s relationship that need reconciling. Despite Olive’s obvious attraction to Popeye, she continues leading Bluto along, and Popeye refuses to ‘make a decent woman of Olive, whose biological clock must sound like Big Ben.'”
1. Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse. The androgynous Krazy has to be one of the most weirdly sexual creatures in comics; s/he is in love with Ignatz mouse, whose penchant for throwing bricks at Krazy’s noggin has her convinced it’s true love. Offisah Pup is caught in the middle—he’s intent on putting Ignatz behind bars for his “transgressions” against Pup’s own true love, who is, of course, Krazy.