Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Weirdly, I resent that chicken on the bottom bunk more than anyone else on this cover.
When I’m putting together these articles, I very often am selecting books and characters which I’d like to see re-tried in a modern venue. Perhaps nine out of every ten articles is something with at least a kernel of potential which I’d love to see fostered by a contemporary hand, while the remaining outlier is usually such a terrible idea that I feel it can only be allowed to exist if someone reconstructs it from the foundation up.

Dizzy Dames, a 1952-1953 series of laffs and gags produced by American Comics Group over a measly six issues, lays right across the meridian of those inclinations. Containing, as the masthead boasted, “Screwballs In Skirts” embroiled in assorted absurd slapstick and arguably comical situations, the premise of the anthological Dizzy Dames was that broads was stupid. Well, to be fair, the premise was that broads MAY be stupid, but they’re almost certainly vain and vapid, which is like stupidity.

So I’m stuck in this middle space where I’m pretty happy that the book has faded into well-earned obscurity. On the other hand there were some recurring features which had at least some potential, particularly if the female leads were written as heroes rather than brainless bimbos.

 Let’s meet the gals, shall we!

Well, she's blind now.

Broadway Babes is one of those series with potential. Charting the adventures of Denise and Dotty, show-business hopefuls forever condemned to the hat check desk and the cigarette counter. Unlike a lot of the protagonists in the book, Dottie and Denise had wit, and wielded it with sharp tongues. Meeting their more successful nemeses at the theatre entrance, Denise sneers “Check your brooms, girls?” while Dottie adds “Cigars? Cigarettes? Cyanide?”

The feature focuses on Dottie’s and Denise’s increasingly unlikely plots to get noticed by a theatrical producer – any theatrical producer – and the results are predictable to anyone who’s ever watched I Love Lucy or just about any Technicolor musical. A couple of high-aiming sassmouths who won’t take no for an answer seem to be pretty good fodder for a revival, so let’s rate Broadway Babes as the least dizzy of all the dames.

Her credentials check out.
Moronica (“Miss Nit-Wit of 1952/3” and so on), by contrast, was the series’ top star and sort-of a stacked Amedlia Bedelia. Illustrated by Owen Fitzgerald (as was Broadway Babes), it’s full of appealing cartooning and also possibly the least offensive take on the “girls are dumb” trope, with Moronica being not stupid precisely but, rather, earnest and eager to a fault.

Moronica has the habit of causing utter chaos in the process of merely trying to follow the rules in defiance of common sense, so there’s also a lot of potential to revive a character like this – or you could, of course, it her name weren’t Moronica. You may as well launch Retarchie and Idiothello.

The remainder of the book was packed full of a parade of beautiful but dim-witted gals who caused consternation to the male counterparts with their unreasonable and ridiculous behavior, which is hella dumb bullshit. Surely all that MRA, PUA and Gamergate has proven is that men are ten times as likely as women to act like red-hot flaming brain donors. Still, among the fetching fools of Dizzy Dames were Doris, Pepper, Buttons, Dee Licious, Goofie Gertie, Looney Lucy, Screwball Sal, Daffy Dotty, Batty Beatrice, Knothead Nancy, Head Injury Hattie, Trepanned Tallulah, Lobotomy Margaret, and Early-Onset Alzheimers Zelda, the last four of which I made up.

Two other feature characters were of the man-hunting harridan and ugly-but-ignorant-of-the-fact clichés. Man-Hunting Minnie of Delta Pu (I assume that’s pronounced “P-U”) was a campus crusader for companionship, hoisting her unfortunate features on any boy who happened to look her way. Knothead Nellie (no relation to Knothead Nancy), in her sole outing, possessed a pan so alarming that it kept her from getting a job, got her confused with a monkey at the zoo, and generally made her the target of snide aside from her attractive roommate. Y’kinda want to root for Nellie, she just doesn’t have genetics.

By and large, Dizzy Dames could disappear into a hole and not do much to damage the overall legacy of comics, although it’s the kind of book that could be redeemed with a conscientious remake – and the jettisoning of ninety percent of its characters.

The thesis of the series, in a nutshell.

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