Monday, February 1, 2010

Love Secrets 32 - "I Fell For a Commie"

McCarthy era Love Secrets 32 (August 1953) published by Quality Comics, with it's cover story of "I Fell For a Commie", contains possibly the most shocking romance tale you're ever likely to read! It chronicles the moral and ideological decline of Gladys, as love robs her of discretion and she plunges headlong into membership of the Communist Party!!!!
With dialog suggesting that Capitalism will cause the degradation of this country, even though it was intended to warn us of the lunacy of Marxist philosophy, this comic would probably never have hit the stands had it not been pre-Code! But how did it all happen? It started with Gladys and her friend Ruth, two young women trying to live the American Dream - they just wanted to get a job and make their own way in life. It's at the State Employment Bureau that Gladys's fall from grace is set in motion. There's a rough looking guy, apparently a veteran, expressing his disillusionment with the way returning military personnel are treated by the country they've risked their life to defend. Right there Gladys should have smelled a rat. Obviously she would have been aware of the great care the U.S. government takes of veterans, and that all those homeless bums that social workers claim are ex-military suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and in need of help, are actually unscrupulous individuals trying to con everyone and get a free ride, just the sort of thing communists would get up to! Before she has time to think, though, Gladys is mistaken for a communist collaborator by a cop who is called in to remove the red menace from the bureau. Outside she talks with a handsome young man who was also turfed out, and there's an instant connection - that moment when you just know this is the one! Their love progresses and deepens rapidly, but all of a sudden, there's a note for Glad from her beau Tom Brenner - he has to stop seeing her, hopes she'll understand, and that she'll still think of him. Bummer!

Gladys is stunned by Tom's departure from her life, but then she sees Ruth with Tom in a passing car. No, Ruth hasn't stolen her lover! She recently joined a club that Tom is also a member of, and he was dropping her home. "Can I join?" is Gladys's immediate response, and so the drama of her undoing unfolds. It doesn't take Gladys long at the meeting to realize that this is a clandestine cell of Soviet Russian sympathizers she's stumbled onto - the poster declaring that "Stalin wants peace" kind of steered her in that direction. But when she sees Tom there her good sense deserts her, and she figures what the heck! She'll join the club just to be with Tom and won't listen to their silly communist propaganda. And it looked like she could pull it off when she remained unswayed by reading Das Kapital in the clubhouse basement. Why would anyone want to remove the gulf between the rich and the poor, eliminating those structural inequalities that oppress lower socioeconomic and minority groups and favor the wealthy? American society doesn't have a class system! Those incredibly loaded corporate businessmen, with no interest whatsoever in maintaining conflict with the USSR so they could sell lots of weapons, couldn't help having obscene amounts of money! And they'd have shared it with all those poor people in a heartbeat except that would have robbed those same impoverished persons of their dignity and of the satisfaction they would derive from making their own fortune through honest hard work! From each according to his means, to each according to his need?! Come off it, Karl! But back to the plot - Tom and Gladys are getting serious. We could end up with Reds IN the bed instead of 'Reds under the bed'!

What happens to Gladys next shows us just how dangerous the insidious tactics of those commie scum can be. Gladys is shown respect by the other members for her commitment, and given full membership of the Communist Party. Tom's been part of the whole plan to reel her in, it seems, making out that he didn't want to influence her, that she should make up her own mind. Tom must have learned that trick in a KGB workshop on reverse psychology. But now she's on the inside, the extent of the group's subterfuge is revealed and that last vestige of loyalty to the free market kicks in and Gladys outs as an anti-communist after all. This doesn't go down too well with the leadership.

But Tom intervenes swiftly to steer Gladys out of harm's way. After all, he may be a commie, but somewhere in there he's still a man with feelings for this lady. Gladys, though, fears death at the hands of her lover when Tom catches up with her outside. So Tom has to come clean - he's not a communist after all - he's an FBI agent but obviously he couldn't tell her up until now. With all the evidence he needs, Tom has the case under wraps, and now he and Gladys can enjoy their relationship on a normal footing. Gladys went through it though, didn't she? I mean, there was a point there when she really looked like she was convinced to travel along "communism's evil byways"! It also turns out that the Korean vet at the Employment Bureau that day was a fake - despicably pretending to be a poorly-treated war hero to undermine the public's faith in democracy.

So there you have it. Authored by Senator Joe McCarthy himself during his spare time between witch hunts, this story is an uncompromising Cold War warning against the communist devil that threatens us still! The fact that you don't see this kind of story in modern comics today simply exposes the ugly truth that the comic book industry has been taken over by the Reds!


  1. KB; let's be honest, haven't we all, at some point or another, fallen in love with a Commie? When I was in college, all the cool girls I had a crush on were very loud reds, or else very loud capitalists. I guess it was just the loud part I liked so much.

    I love this cold war stuff - what an incredible age of pure talent and pure paranoia. They art, with its beautifully drawn clothes, reminds me of Jack Kamen's work. I just love the "they look like us, they sound like us, they may be your best friend" view of this story, and so many of the time. Reminds me of the Terminator franchise when the machines began to cloak themselves in synthetic skin so they could walk among the humans as spies. Paranoia strikes deep and makes for real cool stories, if somewhat sad life.

    Hey, KB, after reading your latest post over at Sequential Crush, your story could be "I Fell for a Hungry Communist." ;-) As always - really liked your commentary - funny in just the right places. – Mykal

  2. Mykal: A lot of those Quality romance comics have this very nice standard of art, pleasing to the eye. I do see what you mean about possible Kamen influence. I'm just not expert enough to be able to go through these old fifties comics and identify artists, and these romance titles tend to be amongst the last to get indexed on the Grand Comics Database.

    Actually that story I put on Sequential Crush about how my wife and I met wasn't really how it happened (the actual story is too complicated) but it is true that she used to go to the Communist Party meetings for the food. I'd just posted this "I Fell For A Commie" story and it had reminded me of that bit of history about her, and we COULD have met that way. It would have been cool, so I just imagined it into a post!

  3. KB: Your preaching to choir about lack of indexing for a beloved genre. With my Kids' Comics blog, I run into that all the time! So very few of the old Harvey comics are indexed at all. I love the GCD, though, and would be lost without it. Sometimes I think comic dweebs like me get to hung up on artist ID - sometimes you just have to let it go and enjoy the comic! -- Mykal

  4. That IS one of the most shocking romance tales I have ever read! But hey, who doesn't like a story with a good word of advice at the end!

    There is another commie romance story in Daring Confessions #5 (January 1953) that is sort of similar, except it is the woman who gets her boyfriend tangled up in a communist club. I have only heard about it... you don't have it by chance?

  5. I'll have a look - I have a few comics with 'daring' in the title - I'll get back to you on that one.

    To my surprise I found that there's another blog with a post of this Love Secrets 32 commie story:

    I didn't think to check first to see if someone else had put it out there - could have saved my copy the stress of being scanned!