Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Unfriendly Skies: Glamorous Romances 41 - "Spitework" - bitter rivalry at 35,000 feet!

The first issue of Glamorous Romances, #41 (July 1949, Ace), features an air hostess story that suggests some women will go to extreme lengths to win a man from a rival, or at least if they can't have him, the other woman won't either. So obviously not true to life there! :) Scene: San Francisco airport, pretty Penny Mason being introduced by her friend Andy to new pilot on the block, Chuck Rogers, resulting in a bout of burning jealousy on the part of go-getting airline stewardess, Nina Luprez. Penny shows Chuck the town and quickly falls in love with him. Chuck appears to have no interest in romance.
The fact is, Chuck thinks Penny is Andy's girl, and so his apparent indifference is really masking his ardent passion for Penny, a passion which can only be contained for so long. Their mutual feelings exposed, the couple are surprised by Andy, who appears to have been hiding in the undergrowth, but it's fortuitous that he is there - he is able to quell Chuck's concerns that he will be seen as stealing Andy's girl. The truth is Penny and Andy mostly hang out to keep the wolves away from Penny and to keep Nina away from Andy. However, Nina's watching everything from a distance, and from her perspective Penny has first moved in on Andy, and now Chuck, both of whom were Nina's targets for romance.
Nina's jealousy is about to get really out of hand. Andy goes missing on a test flight to Hawaii, and Nina produces a note she apparently found. It's addressed to Andy from Penny, and it's contents lead to the unavoidable conclusion that there was a relationship between Penny and Andy and that she was just playing Chuck. Nina leads Chuck to the interpretation that Penny's actions towards Andy were so heartbreaking for him that he deliberately took his own life by downing the plane on the way to Hawaii. Chuck falls for it, and cold shoulders Penny, who can't believe this Jekyll and Hyde transformation that has occurred in the man she was planning to marry. This is pure revenge on Nina's part, since she's not getting either man by this action. As the title suggests - she's acting purely out of spite. Penny's hurt big time, just as Nina hoped, and Penny and Chuck go their separate ways, only to meet up again six months later routing out of Seattle. Hostilities resume, and both are keen to end this new phase of contact as quickly as possible.
This job takes them to Honolulu, though, where all of a sudden Chuck starts acting mysteriously. He wants Penny to come and meet an old friend at the hospital, and it turns out to be Andy, who has just been rescued from a tropical island where he's been languishing for the last six months since that new plane he was testing hit an albatross and went down in the Pacific. His unanticipated vacation ended when he was picked up by a passing yacht (and therein lies another romance comic tale I'm sure - yachts, yachtsmen, daughters of rich guys, etc.). Chuck brings the note Nina gave him out into the open, and it is quickly identified by Andy as a forgery. Penny now understands what has been behind Chuck's bizarre behavior. Chuck realizes what a fool he's been. Luckily there's enough love left for everything to be fixed, and Andy ends with a classic line: "Hey Nurse! Quick! Before there is another relapse, administer a minister". I think this one would adapt well to the stage!
It just goes to show that the high-flying world of the airline stewardess can be full of intrigue, venomous envy, and fast-paced, highly emotional shifts in circumstances. I wonder if Penny stuck with her career or whether this was the cue for her to exchange her uniform for an apron and maternity dresses. And what about Nina? Did she spend the rest of her working life bitter, miserable, and resentful of others' happiness? And Andy? Looks like he was the confirmed bachelor. But it was all so long ago. They'd all be in their 80s and 90s now if any of them are still alive.

Note: These scans are refurbished from the file on the Golden Age Comics Download site, which makes available copyright-expired  scanned comics for study and appreciation by discerning members of the public with a penchant for high art.


  1. KB: "What's she got that I haven't got?" asks Nina. "Yes, but Penny's not only pretty, she's nice," retorts the friend. Any more questions, Nina?

    Great comic and really pleasing art. It's a good story, too. Simple, yet cohesive and clear. Also, that last line is simply astounding! WHAT A GREAT CLOSER!!! -- Mykal

  2. Mykal: Yeah that last line is a good one. And the other exchange you picked out is a classic as well. The more of these airline stewardess romances I read the more they make me think that life as a pilot or stewardess must be kind of strange - sort of like no fixed abode, always on the move, and it must make relationships difficult and certainly different. But is that just what they're like in comics, or are the comics somewhat reflective of real life? I don't know anyone who works airlines, although my sister-in-law was a stewardess on the hovercraft service that ran across the English Channel back in the day - nice uniform but not exactly the same lifestyle as an airline stewardess - she was home every evening.

  3. Jon Knutson has posted part of Glamorous Romances #48 (Oct 1950) at which prompted me to look here for more information.

    The GCD doesn't have any credits AT ALL for this series. Looking at Jerry Bails Who's Who, the only match I found for Glamorous Romances is Valerie Barclay (aka Violet Barclay). Switching back to the GCD, Valerie is credited 5 times (mostly for Atlas/Marvel stories) and Violet twice (both for St. John books).

    Any chance of learning more about this series?