I recently read the comic “Candid confessions: fool’s paradise”, no. 232 of the Love and Romance Library in the Australian romance comics collection. I was delighted to find this “Love and Romance Library”, I imagined it to be a confessional Tracey Emin style collection of labelled beating hearts (with their lending history) restrained on a tiny dollhouse scale set of library shelves with a miniature ladder. As you can see, it was a comic series – the “Love and Romance Library” notation is in the small yellow box on the front cover, drawn by Keith Chatto.
Margot Harker highlights that despite the name of Australian romance comics collection, most of the collections of stories were illegally imported and then embellished with Australian covers. Harker has written some very interesting articles on the collection, highlighting their conservative agenda in Preaching Purity: [How romance comics encouraged white women into marrying solid, respectable men of their own race and class] (National Library Magazine, v.1, no.2, June 2009: 18-20) and the history of the comics in Cultural pariahs: The National Library of Australia’s collection of Australian romance comics (National Library Magazine, v.1, no.1, Mar 2009: 28-30).
An excerpt from the final page of the first story (“My Fiery Rival”) in no. 232 (also shown in the image):
‘“Will you be my house-keeper permanently… my wife?”
“Oh, yes… yes, Clem.”
A lifetime job by the side of the man I loved, what more could I ask for?’
Wow. It’s interesting to find these historical narratives, especially given the recent political debate around gendered roles. As the “good guy” (Clem Watts) in the story says, who ever would have dreamed that things could work out for her (the house-keeper wife, Marion Lane) like this?