Q: What do you get when you cross a dirty joke with a comic book?

A: Today’s post in The Big Blog o’Fun!

Are “farmer’s daughter” jokes still told? I haven’t heard one myself in over forty years. Back when I was in junior high, I’ll bet I knew at least three dozen of them. Today I can’t remember a danged one of them (probably because I turned 14 and — you know, real farmers daughters). And, despite many years spent working in blue collar positions where dirty jokes are tossed around like old pennies, I don’t recall anybody ever telling a farmer’s daughter joke. But there was a time when these jokes were a staple for people who enjoyed ribald humor. The setup was usually that a travelling salesman’s car breaks down in a remote rural area, he stops at a farmhouse at dusk and asks if her can be put up for the night, and the farmer says, “Sure! But you’ll have to sleep in the barn/in the chicken coop/with my daughter….” And that’s where the fun begins.

There are literally hundreds of variations on the theme. Sometimes the daughter is extremely unattractive, but in most of the jokes she’s a knockout and very naive. The “plot” of the joke usually revolves around the salesman either trying to have sex with the daughter, or succeeding in doing so but getting caught by the farmer. In most of the jokes the only place for the salesman to sleep is in the daughter’s bed (thus accelerating the arrival of the punchline), but sometimes the scene is the barn, or a pasture, or a chicken coop. The variations are endless.

As I said, I used to know dozens of them when I was thirteen. By the time I was fifteen, I’d forgotten all of them. As I mentioned near the start of the post, I’m not sure they’re even told at all anymore. “Farmer’s daughter” jokes aren’t quick two-liners; they’re usually pretty elaborate. They take some time to tell and how well they’re received is often a direct function of the storyteller’s skill. It certainly helps to be able to mimic different voices and switch between them easily (my salesman’s voice was definitely very New York/New Jersey, the daughter was in kind of a southern belle delivery, and Pop was in more of a traditional Kentucky accent). They’re like little stories, with a setup, a plot, and a denouement (in the form of a punchline) and if you can’t tell them well, you’ll definitely bomb out with your audience. Jokes these days tend to be much shorter, less involved, and easier to tell; I don’t remember the last time I heard a dirty joke that was much more than a one-liner or, at most, a riddle.

Traditional Forties “good girl art” also seems to be a dying tradition. With the exception of Bruce Timm (one of my favorite comic artists) and the late, great Darwyn Cooke, there aren’t many recent comic artists who draw women in the Forties or Fifties styles. As we’ve previously discussed in this blog good girl art was a signature form of the Forties, with many long-running features grounded firmly in the style. The name of the style has nothing to do with whether or not a character was a “good girl”; the name refers to a good artistic rendition of a female character. The artist draws the subject, and whether she’s a femme fatale, a high-school cheerleader, a secretary, a housewife, a masked adventurer, or anything in-between, the artist draws her so she looks hot (in today’s parlance). We’ve tackled the subject many times before in this blog: we’ve considered Rulah – Jungle Goddess, Pat Patriot, an interplanetary adventure by the legendary Wally Wood, Howard Larsen’s Slave Girl Comics, and this blog’s virtual pages have enjoyed three appearances by Bill Ward’s luscious Torchy Todd.

All of which brings us to today’s post. Last week I was poking around Comic Book Plus looking for something to read when I noticed an entry for something called The Farmer’s Daughter. My first thought when clicking the link was “No freaking way!”

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

Way. Well, sort of.

The Farmer’s Daughter isn’t what you might expect, while at the same time being exactly what you realistically would expect. The book is essentially a rural version of Torchy: the young, voluptuous title character has no idea of the effect she has on men, and comic misadventures are the result. There’s no real nudity or sexual content (this was a newsstand comic book published in 1954, after all) so that expectation is dashed, but the realistic expectation of some excellent good girl art is fully realized. Comic Book Plus credits the writing to Hal Seeger and the art to Irv Spector and Bill Williams, all of whom were known names in the comic book industry of the time (Spector was also an animator). The book’s publisher, Stanhall Publishing, was a short-lived venture which offered a handful of titles: one “funny animal” book, a holiday “one shot”, a variety gag book, and three good girl art titles, the best known of which was G.I. Jane. The art in The Farmer’s Daughter, although “cartoonish”, still has the old Forties good girl kick to it. Take a close look at the illustrations – her clothes are drawn as see-through in order to show her curves without revealing anything that would get the book banned. Even so, this is a comic book for the fathers rather than one for the kids.

If you need to enlarge the pics, please right-click on a page and open it in a new tab or window. The scans are from the Comic Book Plus website.

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

The Farmer's Daughter #1, 1954

Have fun! — Steve

Copyright 2017, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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