I’m a touch under the weather, so I’m going to get in and get out.

“Good girl art” was a pop-artistic movement which reached its peak in the 1940’s  and 1950’s. It had nothing to do with “good girls”; it was the art that was good, not necessarily the morals of the gal in question. It didn’t get the name “good girl art” until the “retro pop culture” wave of the 1970’s introduced an entire generation to the cool wonders of the pulp/Golden Age era (this was the period when pulp icons like Doc Savage and The Shadow, as well as writers like Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft [re]gained a large audience). Today when we think of “good girl art” we usually associate it with the pin-up art of the war years (including “nose art” on WWII bombers; some of those fabulous gals were painted on planes by my father when he served in the Army Air Force in the South Pacific). If you’d like to read a bit more about “good girl art”, there are a ton of books available and you’ll find the “Cliff Notes” version here. If you click on that link, please check out Torchy while you’re there; I’ll probably get around to writing about her someday if I keep up with this blog for long enough.

Today, though, I’m just going to briefly mention Pat Patriot’s third appearance in Daredevil Comics #4 (October 1941). After re-reading this story the other night, I’m convinced that there were two separate artists on the series by this time, who had similar, but not identical styles. With her third appearance, Pat returns to her “severe” look from Daredevil Comics #2, in which her expression varies between “surprised” and “angry” due to the way her eyes are drawn. The story itself is a six-pager (the same page count as her previous two appearances), but the story “feels” shorter. It’s very slight and follows the identical formula as the story from Daredevil Comics #3 with a few minor changes.

Instead of visiting a military base, Pat is invited for a visit out west. Instead of arriving by bus, she arrives by train. Instead of being rudely mauled by a cabbie, it’s a cowpoke this time. And, just as the cabbie was the enemy agent/saboteur in issue #3, it’s the grabby cowhand who is behind the “fifth column” activities in this story. The conclusion we must draw here is that fifth columnists aren’t very bright; if I was an enemy agent, the last woman I’d be hitting on would be the one running around in an outfit based on the Stars and Stripes. Duh…

Another conclusion is either the publisher was on a tight deadline or else the writers were already running out of ideas for the character; as I said, it’s a dead ripoff of the basic plot from issue #3. However, we do get a really nice gift from the artist in Daredevil Comics #4: the splash panel of the Pat Patriot story is a really nice example of the “good girl art” movement’s influence on Golden Age comics:


I repeat: YOWZA! That drawing of Pat on the bucking bronc is an all-time classic, and does a great job of walking the fine line between “good girl art” and plain old “cheesecake” (as the latter occurred in the final couple of Pat Patriot stories in Daredevil the following year; we’ll talk about that in a later post).

Have fun! — Steve

Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.