Holy Cats!! Happy Valentine’s day everyone! In celebration of the occasion I’m posting an excerpt of the talk I’m giving later today on romance comics. Here it is, details of the talk are at the bottom.
Penny’s Diary was introduced around 1945 and is a cornerstone in Canadian comics history. Similar to Archie comics in style and content, the romance and drama In Penny’s Diary is targeted towards mainly teen girls. The story revolves around consistently lovesick Penny and her less than savoury, but levelheaded best friend, Jeanie.
Penny’s diary is a very interesting comic. Cyril Bell must have recognized the need to appeal to little girls when he published the comic but unfortunately not enough so that he created another line of comics targeted only for girls. Penny first appeared in number 19 of Active Comics. Laughably, Active Comics is generally what you’d expect, specializing in action heroes and sports. Also, during this time no stories were much longer than three or four pages of a book, and most books ranged from about 48 to 64 pages. This meant that poor Penny was wedged between Active Jim and Thunderfist and unfortunately the poor little girls who read them probably either paid a dime for one story or were forced to nick the comic from a brother.
Although Penny’s Diary is by no means a forward thinking comic, that it exists in itself is important. Penny’s diary is a comic for girls written by women, some of the first in the industry, Patricia Joudrey who wrote the script and Doris Slater who did the art. The series was short lived concluding with issue 26, and only marginally preceded the end of the Golden Age of comics in Canada.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Canadian romance and erotica comics, I will be giving a talk on this and more at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. The address is 395 Wellington and the talk begins at 7pm. Alternatively, I have given an interview to CBC radio which will be posted online.