cover to Just Married #102 Charlton

Just Married #102, October 1974

Occasionally – very occasionally – Charlton would get it right. This beauty of a cover comes from the dying days of romance comics. Marvel had pretty much given up by 1974 and were just pushing reprints, DC had just two titles (Young Love and the book that started it all, Young Romance), but Charlton continued the good fight, putting out around a dozen comics on the moribund theme.

The cover here is by Demetrio Sánchez Gómez, an artist I know nothing about other than he is Spanish and worked extensively for Charlton in the early-1970s, as well as producing material for the European market. His style is very much in that European psychedelic vein, with the accent on pretty pictures rather than story telling. As the cover here attests, he was very good at producing an arresting image!

Demetrio splash page: Just Married #102

This issue of Just Married also has a short story illustrated by Demetrio, and it’s visually stunning — though the script will have the modern reader tearing his/her hair out. “A Good Fight is Fun” starts off with the recently married Ruthie and Kevin arguing. Over time the arguments get worse, and Ruthie starts throwing heavy objects at Kevin over his patronising attitudes. After all he knows she belongs to a Women’s Lib group. One day she gives him a black eye, and he thrusts her bodily under a shower, soaking her hair and clothes.

Just Married #102

The pair are enthusiastic tennis players but their arguments begin to affect their game. During one match Ruthie volley’s the ball directly at Kevin, and later thwacks his butt with her racket. Their friends grow concerned. Later, at a restaurant, Kevin refuses to order for Ruthie, saying, “Now we’re equal, I don’t want to have to coddle you.” Ruthie is upset by this, and later Kevin storms out of the house.

Just Married #102

The next morning Ruthie awakes alone, wondering where Kevin is. He’s spent the night on the couch, and tells Ruthie that he’s come to think of their marriage as a war. Ruthie breaks down, explaining that she only wants to be treated with respect. “Don’t put me on a pedestal,” she says, “I don’t want to be protected… I want to be at your side!”

For his part, Kevin realises that he’s been treating Ruthie as his father treated his mother — however, she was content to be “the dainty feminine type”, babied by her husband. From now on Kevin vows that “We’re going to have a different kind of marriage!”

“One equally happy, darling… Now that we understand each other!” says Ruthie as she melts in the arms of her man.

Just Married #102

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Okay, it’s hardly the most enlightened story, but given the mores of the time, and even the other stories in this issue, it comes across as having its heart in the right place. Feminists might weep, but at least Ruthie stands up for herself and gets her chap to change his ways. No idea who the script was by, but Joe Gill would probably be a reasonable guess.

As can be discerned from the title, Just Married focussed on the romantic stories of those in the first flush of marriage, rather than the courtship rituals on display in most romance comics, where tear-spilling talk of marriage was the end of the story.

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