You may have seen scans of the short story “That Strange Girl” from Young Romance #197 floating around elsewhere on one of several sites. That’s how I came across them after a friend had mentioned the story to me, which in turn put me on a course to find a reasonably priced copy, and after a very long time I finally found one. In case you’re not familiar with this story I’ll tell you the reason it stands out from most of the other fare in DC’s stable of romance comics. Liz Baker is “that strange girl”, billed on the cover as “the story they dared us to print!” Liz’s story is to me a thinly veiled account of a teenaged girl who is trying to come to terms with being either lesbian or possibly bisexual, which is quite amazing when you consider the indicia’s publication date is Jan-Feb 1974 and it may have been in stores a little earlier, possibly December, 1973. This was 15 years before the Comics Code underwent its final revision allowing for LGBT characters to be included in comics and encouraged positive portrayals! Before 1989 words like gay, lesbian, and homosexual were forbidden by the Comics Code.This is the reason John Byrne wrote Maggie Sawyer’s stuttering “I’m a l-l-le–” dialog back in 1988’s Superman #15 (vol 2). Despite this restriction there are a handful of examples of instances that somehow made it by the board’s scrutiny. Just search the “Silver Age” tag to read the ones documented here.
To give you an idea what the time period was like, Nixon was President and having to deal with Watergate; the US was still fighting a war in Vietnam; Tab took the place of diet Coke; bellbottoms and platform shoes were popular; Donny and Marie’s first show was still 2 1/2 years in the future; The Waltons TV show was still popular; Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at tennis in the “Battle of the Sexes”; and Title IX as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 was still being debated for the alleged effects it would have on boys athletic programs.
Innuendo and inference are laid on heavily here. I suspect the only reason it wasn’t outright rejected by the CCA is its ending. How many lesbian references and allusions will you find?
The Grand Comics Database credits Jerry Grandenetti for pencils, Creig Flessel for inking, and E. Nelson Bridwell and Allan Asherman as editor and assistant editor. No writer credit information is available. Story and art © and ® DC Comics. All rights reserved.