Sunday, March 13, 2011

Diversity in Comics: Marcy and Bunny (II)

Here's another few stories from Bunny featuring The Soular System, Harvey's African American contingent in this late 60s/early 70s teen humor comic with a heavy dose of flower power. The first, "Jive Happening", is from Bunny 9, and is replete with all kinds of contrived pseudo-hippie speech patterns and vocabulary. At the same time it does capture something genuine from the times, mainly through the use of pop-art lettering, and a love and peace vibe that especially surrounds Soular System. As an example of a popular cultural artifact attempting to be 'in the groove', it is representative of a whole range of phenomena aspiring to be 'hippie' but only succeeding in being somewhat removed from the reality of actual hippie culture, with all its drug-taking and debauchery. So the pseudo-hippie culture, to which this series belongs, evidences a kind of first wave of influence of actual hippie culture on the mainstream. Nowadays, of course, you're likely to hear "White Rabbit" being played as you glide up a building in an elevator, or stroll round the supermarket doing your shopping!

All these Bunny comics have fashion pages like those found in the Marvel teen humor books, and in DC romance comics, not to mention Katy Keene, and so on. Marcy Sweete, being a model, is included. The first two are from Bunny 20, and the second two are from Bunny 9.

Here's a 6-page short story from Bunny 20, featuring the difficult-to-tolerate Esmeralda, and the Soular System. Note the new fashion - hot pants! We're into the early 70s.

In "Shakes Soul" (Bunny 20), Honey gets herself in a tight spot with a class assignment. This provides an opportunity for Soular System to explain just what 'soul' is.

Back in Bunny 9 there was a text page with one of those fictional interviews, in this case between Bunny and Gideon of Soular System. Here the creators of the comic try to define 'soul' in more detail.

Overall Bunny was a bold effort to introduce diversity into comic books, starting at the tail end of the Silver Age. There's a little bit of a 'roots' look to the Soular System, with some African style clothing. And the whole thing about soul tries hard to connect with the African American mainstream. Soular System are out and out good guys, and their 'groovy' language is a hippie stereotype rather than an African American one. This was definitely a feel good attempt to better reflect the diversity of American society, and the racial harmony that could exist.

Again, thanks to Britt Reid for turning me on to this title, and to Masterbowler and the Harvey Preservation Society for the scans.

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