Wednesday, September 21, 2016


"...she endured the abuse and shame with admirable grace."

I don't know what it is that fascinates me so much about the modest genre of humor comics produced in the 1950s and which rely so heavily on sexual harassment as a punchline. And a raison d'etre. And a modus operandi. And an avadra kedavra, for all I know.

I see guys doing this on escalators all the time.
But it was a big hit, for a time. DC's The Adventures of Bob Hope, prior to its later-run delightful absurdity and to name a high-profile example, has already been characterized as a living document of practically criminal levels of groping and subway hollering. It's practically a paean to candid upskirt photography. It was probably big in Georgia.

ACG also boasted (or is that BUST-ed hahaha now I'm doing it) its Dizzy Dames title, previously written about in agog tones on this blog. Then there was also always Torchy and her many imitators, to name a couple. But for Stanhall Publications, this model was their bread-and-butter (or do I mean bread-and-BUST-er again goddamnit I'm doing it again), with ditzy-sex-object titles like G.I.Jane, Broadway-Hollywood Blackouts and The Farmer's Daughter...

"She was only the farmer's daughter, but she..." was the format of a series of salacious jokes back in the olden tymes, before people knew that jokes had to have a funny part somewhere. You can find examples of the form on the internet, and they range from the dad-joke ("...was outstanding in her field") to evidence in an assault trial ("...sure liked to get plowed!").

Whoa, buddy, come on, that's your daughter!
Also, one time, just for me: "She was only a farmer's daughter, but she ... AWWWW SUFFRAGETTE!"

The comic book version of The Farmer's Daughter reiterates these and other spicy jokes in thin narrative frameworks with a stunted cast of characters, although the star of every episode remains slut-shaming and adolescent gawking. Supporting these are the titular ... or do I mean TI- no I mean eponymous, really ... daughter, Amy Dingle, her cockblocking old man Farmer Dingle, and Orville, Amy 's persistent suitor and a walking mountain with an IQ equivalent to the cost of a Forever Stamp.

The gags are effectively stationary - a travelling salesman comes by, attracts the attention of the hump-happy Amy, is pursued by the rockheaded Orville, or is threatened with the business end of a shotgun by Farmer Dingle's overfascination with his daughter's sex life.

Whoa, lady, come on, that's your father!
There's no actual credits in the book, so the otherwise appealing art style goes uncredited -- my admittedly-casual internet research didn't turn up much that made me hopeful for solving the mystery, either. Interior pages are occasionally stamped with the copyright symbol for Hal Seeger Productions, although that only nails down the copyright and ownership to the creator of Fearless Fly. The art style is wrong, however, although it looks a little like it might have been Kin Platt, who'd also drawn the Bob Hope comic mentioned above. If so, it's a hell of a career.

Every Farmer's Daughter story requires the presence of a male suitor of one form or another, in order to inflame Amy's passions and get her father to pry 'em apart with a shotgun. Fictional or not, there's the uncomfortable feeling of watching a dysfunctional family fighting that permeates the title. It's one thing to have a slightly sexy humor comic, but it's another thing altogether to watch a woman desperately cling to every passing stranger before her father comes running into the room, shouting, swinging a gun around. You wouldn't see shit that dark in a Cassavetes film.

At a handful of issues, The Farmer's Daughter -- and, really, the Stanhall line as a whole -- wasn't long for the world. This is probably for the best, because I'm not sure where a book is gonna go when it's got punchlines like this:

Whoa whoa whoa mister ...

1 comment:

Cheryl Spoehr said...

I would love to have seen them try to make a comics code authority version of this title....

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