It’s a well-worn story by now. Superheroes, as a cultural expression of hope, were juxtaposed against the hard reality Americans faced during the depression and WWII. And as the American economic renaissance of the mid-1940’s took off, superhero’s luster began to fade. Publishers, chasing sales, began to test, and then actively pursue, other genres. Some of Marvel Comics experiments were with the funny/sexy working woman. Tillie the Toiler, Debbie Dean, Dixie Dugan, Flyin’ Jenny and other working woman predecessors had rolled up their sleeves and leaned forward for the war effort. What made Marvel’s working gals (mostly from the mind of Stan Lee) different was that they were sexier and sillier.
Nellie the Nurse lasted for 36 issues (there was also Tessie the Typist, Millie the Model, Hedy De Vine and Sherry the Showgirl from the same Marvel publisher). All ran from the mid-1940’s to mid-1950’s.
As I have mentioned before, these comics were really the television “situation comedies” of their day, not unlike the long running television show Friends. Attractive, romantically involved characters making their way in a new, more complicated, big city era was accomplished within a humorous context.
Nellie was going out with Dr. Snazzy Wilks. Of course, there was a sexual rival for Dr. Wilks attentions, Pamela Lang. Her friend and fellow nurse Mary Lou was also seeing a doctor, named Speedy.
Pictured here are Nellie the Nurse #10* (December-47) with Nellie sunbathing in the streets of New York, #18* (April-49), #19* with Nellie working in a dentist office (June 1949) and #21* (October-49).
There is an amazing summary of the evolution of Nellie here.
* Sold Copy