Chicago Spanking Review

Dream Book of Romance #5

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dream book romance #5 cover

Dream Book of Romance #5 (A-1 No. 92, 1953, month not given in the indicia). No cover artist since a photograph was used. Published by Magazine Enterprises (click to double-size).

The first of two romance comic spankings that we discovered this past year comes from Dream Book of Romance #5 (1953, exact month unknown). It is a "standard" length story of seven pages, so we can present it in its entirety, but first let's take a brief look at the cover.

It features two models photographed rather than drawn, which was not uncommon at this time, although we're not sure exactly what the thinking was behind this. Sometimes movie stars were used, which is perhaps easier to understand as the young girls in the target audience were probably strongly drawn to romantic movies as well as comics, and the film studios presumably provided the necessary color photographs from their publicity departments free of charge.

In the upper left-hand corner is the publisher's logo (Magazine Enterprises), and next to that the letters "anc" which stood for American News Company, the largest comics distributor. Covers were often marked this way, and we wonder if that meant ANC was the exclusive distributor or simply the distributor of that copy? There were other, smaller distributors in the game at this time, and the extinction of small publishers like ME is linked to the unwillingness of these smaller players to continue distributing their books after ANC unexpectedly collapsed in 1957 (see The Effects of the Comics Code on Spanking, Part 1 for some more details). And speaking of the Comics Code, this was 1953 so the Code didn't exist yet, but there was a predecessor organization, the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP), that was still around at the time. Whether or not it shared the Code's later hostility toward romantic spanking, its seal does not appear here - perhaps ME was not a member - so it certainly didn't stand in the way of this issue's spanking.

Our story is called "Holiday Heart-Throb" and the introduction gives a pretty good idea of the type of stories found in the genre:

"I met Johnny Harman on a skiing trip to Vermont. He was handsome, kind and gentle. He was everything a girl could want, and I fell desperately in love with him! And then I learned that, to him, I was just one more Holiday Heart-Throb."

Obviously a strong degree of reader identification with the protagonist was expected and encouraged, a point to which we'll return later. For now, let's see our story get off to a good start with the meeting of Johnny Harman and our heroine-spankee, Julie Andrews. (Note: at this time, the Julie Andrews (the star of stage and screen) was still only 17 years old, so the character here could not have been named after her. It was a little more than a year later when Andrews made her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend at the ripe old age of 18!).

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 2

The splash page of Holiday Heart-Throb. Art by Frank Bolle; writer unknown. From the fabulous collection of Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. (JVJ).

Next page: Julie's romantic rival, the "girl-wolf" Betty Staley, appears and undercuts Julie's confidence...

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 3

The romance proceeds...

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 4

And yet Julie still has her doubts: "I keep thinking this is just another holiday affair to you...that you'll go away and leave me..."

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 5

When Julie sees Johnny with Betty, she assumes the worst, even though she can't hear what they're talking about.

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 6

Poisoned by her fears, Julie decides to flirt with other boys to mask her own hurt. Not a very mature attitude, but then we are dealing with juveniles and the idea probably made sense to the girls reading it.

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb page 7

Johnny doesn't like her flirting, and when she tops it off by slapping him, it's spanking time!

dream book romance #5 holiday heart-throb splash page

After a well-deserved spanking, Julie feels much better knowing that Johnny loves her and wants to marry her.

dream book of romance #5 spanking panel

The spanking panel (click to increase in size). Posted by Web-Ed on 2/20/2015.

We drew attention earlier to the fact that stories like this one invited the reader to identify with the heroine. This becomes quite interesting when, as is most often the case and as we have here, the heroine instead of someone else gets spanked, for if the story is to have a happy ending, the spanking must be presented in a positive way. It's not particularly emphasized in the art, but the spanking is pivotal in this story because it's what makes Julie realize that Johnny loves her - and what could be a more romantic spanking than that?

The writer is as usual unknown, but the artist is Frank Bolle, whom we encountered twice last year: in Soldiers of Fortune #2 (1951) and then in Lovers Lane #29 (1952). This spanking, then, is the third in three years for Bolle, and it makes us wonder: could Bolle have written these stories himself as well as drawn them? Or could he have been paired with the same writer each time, a man who favored spankings? It certainly seems unlikely that three different writers were involved. And yet, if Bolle were the writer and further was into spanking, why would he have shortchanged the spanking itself by confining it to one skinny half-width panel? By "half-width" we mean 1/12 of a page, or half of a 1/6 page panel, the smallest size used for general purposes.

Bolle (born 1924) is the son of artist parents and showed early drawing ability. His long career in comics does not include any writing that we could find, so for the moment we're going to guess that he was indeed paired with a writer who liked to put spanking into his stories (a man after our own heart, to be sure!). This is not a firm conclusion, however: Bolle was involved with so many different newspaper strips that it's possible he had a hand in writing a few of them. Amazingly, Bolle is still active to this day (2015 - 62 years later!), drawing Apartment 3-G for King Features Syndicate since 1999. We'd love to ask him about these spankings, although we're not sure exactly how we would broach the subject and we couldn't expect him to remember after more than sixty years. For now, on behalf of spankos everywhere, we'll simply say "Thank you" to this man for providing us with three (at least) good spanking scenes!

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