Wednesday, April 9, 2008

'Millie The Model' comics in the 1960's

In the title's 28-year run, from the mid-1940's to the early '70's, Marvel Comics' 'Millie the Model' went through a few changes along the way that reflected changing times.

(This post continues an examination of different titles in a big unruly stack of 'teen humor' and romance comics that I found several months back. See also my posts on Archie Comics, and a focus on Harvey Comics' 'Bunny' and all her friends.)

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

At its start, as published by Timely and then Atlas Comics (Marvel's publishing predecessors), the 'Millie' books were straight humor, remembered primarily for Dan DeCarlo's 'good girl' artwork.
He contributed a ten-year run on the book, prior to his association with Archie Comics.

During the late '50's / early '60's metamorphosis of Atlas into the Marvel Comics Group, DeCarlo departed and was replaced by Stan Lee's writing and the artwork of Stan Goldberg.

Goldberg was very adept at mimicking the style set by DeCarlo (which would serve him well later, when working for Archie Comics), but when the look and mood of the book and its characters were changed in 1963, Goldberg's artwork changed as well to reflect the slightly more realistic 'romance and adventure' tone of the series.

Most of the covers and excerpts shown here are from that period;
For several years the stories were all glamor, fashion, romantic possibilities, exotic locations and pop culture.

◀ At left and below, ▼ an interlude from Millie's first meeting with mop-top pop group 'The Gears', from issue #135 (1966).

Click on images or page numbers to enlarge - -
page 8
page 9
page 10

The stories - - well, they were pretty wretched, actually.

Editor-in-chief Stan Lee cranked them out, often breaking in the same guys who would soon be writing all the usual monthly superhero fare, if they weren't already - -
Denny O'Neil, Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, etc.

Perhaps the melodrama is really all fundamentally the same, just fewer 'clobberin' times', in favor of more reader-submitted fashion ideas - - ?

To my eye, despite genre differences, the covers to the Millie comics of this period appear very 'Marvel' to me as well.

Aside from the obvious house logos, the compositions and lettering seem so similar to the Marvel superhero books of this era with which I'm more familiar - -

- - almost as if there should a swarm of Hydra agents lurking in the background, or Ant-Man taking on The Porcupine or some such.

I think the presence of the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye could fit in nicely on some of these covers.
Maybe it's just me.

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Millie kept up with the times - - and the fads and fashions - - as the sixties wore on, both in her regular title and various spin-offs, annuals and 'Queen-Size' Specials.

At least for a while...

▲ Issue #153 (1967) was the last for the 'romantic adventure look' issues, before 'Millie The Model' would revert to being more of a broad humor book.

◀ This story ▼ from that issue features Millie's cousin, Dee-Dee (also a model, as it happens).

If this story were more convoluted, part of a never-ending self-referential serial, and - - oh, yeah - - better written, it would remind me even more of the comics work of Gilbert Hernandez.

Click on images or page numbers to enlarge - -
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6

That 'reversion' back to being a humor title was perhaps more of a band-wagon jump.

The drawing style (still Stan Goldberg, back to channeling Dan DeCarlo), story content, and even cover composition were all suspiciously evocative of Archie Comics.
That Archie was enjoying increasing sales at the time didn't hurt, and besides, Marvel was not the only publisher experimenting with this marketing strategy around this same period.

Click on images or page numbers to enlarge - -
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4

For more info and images of the different fascinating phases of Millie The Model, see also:

- A nice big cover gallery of the first 107 issues at Atlas Tales

- One index and cover gallery of all the different Millie titles

- The Comic Book Superstore sponsors another, and presents a few excerpted stories as well.

- A further small overview gallery at Comic Covers.Com

- 'My Favorite Things!' presents Millie reminiscences and appreciations from Lypsinka.

ADDENDUM, 4/11/08: The Johnny Bacardi Show has linked to this post and chimed in with some further info and thoughts on Millie. (Thanks for the link, Johnny!)

ADDENDUM, 9/16/08: Follow the link to a wonderful Millie The Model tribute blog - - Lots of artwork, covers, info about the artists, related comics material, etc.


rob! said...

i'd love to see Marvel bring Millie back, by Andi Watson or Chynna Major, someone like that. that'd be cooool.

Thombeau said...

You KNOW this is going on FABULON, right?!

Are you familiar with Torchy, that other blonde bombshell?

Great post!

The In Crowd said...

Thom - -

You honor me, as ever. Actually, yeah, I kinda thought of you while I was scanning the 'New Boss is Cross' pages.

Glad you enjoyed.

I know Torchy just a little, but I think I'd like to get to know her better...

Thanks for that link!

Rick L. Phillips said...

Dear In Crowd;
I just wanted to say thanks for the link. I have also posted a link to your site as I am sure you know. Thanks again.

Carole said...

I had no idea that Millie ran for that many years! I have a few of the late 60's, early 70's comics that I bought as a kid. Thanks for sharing. I love some of the covers from the older issues!

osovictoria said...

Thanks for sharing I just linked your post to my blog Millie the Model was a design inspiration for me as a teenager and I also wanted to share. Thanks so much!

Mary Budge said...

Does anyone remember the Millie the Model comic book issue when she was in a beauty contest of some sorts and the bubble next to some of the contestants said "Tilt"? I find myself using "tilt" when I am not sure of an answer and realized that not everyone knows the reference. I would love the find the issue this was in. Anyone out there remember???

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