Our second volume, reprinting the complete run of Stan Drake’s classic American comic strip The Heart of Juliet Jones, reprints dailies from August 15, 1955, to November 30, 1957, with an introduction by American Flagg creator, Howard Chaykin.
- Classic Comics Press, July 2009
- ISBN: 978-1615390786
- Softcover, 11″ x 8.5″, 252 pages
- $24.95 USD
- Order online: Amazon, Biblio
The full title is Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones – Dailies: Volume 2 – August 15, 1955 to November 30, 1957, but that’s getting too unwieldy.
The first story focuses on Juliet and her new love interest John. A stranger stumbles into her backyard and they become involved and then engaged. But that’s the subplot: the real story is John’s job and the relationship between his boss Carson and Carson’s wife Sandra. John enjoys the challenges of bridge-building but doesn’t care about the rest, but Juliet states “I want my husband to be – ambitious”. John then has to confront his work relationship and decide if a work and life balance is worth it. Carson and Sandra have a terrible and abusive marriage but in the end, Sandra just wants her husband to be the man she married. There’s a lot to unpack in this 1955 take on relationships, and it doesn’t end as it would today. I won’t give the ending away, but Juliet remains unwed.
To get out of her funk, Juliet buys a failing hat business and moves it to the family home. Things heat up as Juliet gets into it with the hat store downtown, owned by Henri. He attempts to woo her and then to destroy her when his advances are deflected. The Jones family rallies and no matter what Henri throws at them, zoning ordinances and cutting off her suppliers, Juliet stays true to the course and triumphs. It’s terribly clever and even though we can see what’s coming every page turn is entertaining.
Attention shifts to Eve as she falls for the local Adonis Larry and gets her heart stepped on. Larry’s big brother Andy tries to correct the situation and ends up falling for Eve. It all wraps up pretty quickly with everyone being disappointed. This read well but felt like the strip needed its dose of romance.
A very sharp turn story-wise as Carroll, a new accountant starts at Pop’s work. He lays on the charm and brings his wife Zelma to live in Devon. But things aren’t what they seem as Carroll turns out to be a criminal and steals the cash deposit leaving Pops as the main suspect. Zelma is an unwilling participant and wants to reform Carroll, but it all goes downhill quickly. Juliet saves the day, and jail awaits. Zelma won’t give up on Carroll, regardless of the emotional and physical abuse. This feels like a reoccurring theme this volume: bad men and the women who love them.
Eve and Julie go to the city for Julie to get marketing training from her hat distributor and Eve decides to get a job. She stumbles into a typing position at a literary agency and gets caught up in an author’s quest for authenticity on his own version of Lolita. Caught up in that along with Eve is her new boss and her neighbour. This one is all about Eve and her growth as a young adult juxtaposed against the foolishness of a midlife crisis. It’s a happy tale with Eve ending up on her own in the city.
Julie again takes the roll of “fixer” when her old fiancé Gig returns to Devon with his rich wife Laura. Money is creating cracks in the relationship as they try to settle into small town life. A party planner and her Laura’s father arrive to throw another wrench into the relationship. Julie’s cool head puts everyone and everything into perspective. Lots of drama and excited facial expressions throughout.
The final story moves back to focus on Eve in the city, this time when she’s asked to take dictation for a biography of a grand old dame. Some excellent psychological games and verbal sparring as we explore the past.
Drake employs some exciting panel layouts, especially when conveying drama or tension. In the robbery story he employed shadows on Carroll’s face to portray malice. Very film noir. And Drake is so effective with the facial close up, going all the way to just the eyes. Gig’s return to Devon has a wonderful background extending across the three panels as the characters advance through them: so many smart and cinematic panels. I would hate to ignore his textures and environments, such as Eve’s walk through the snowing city at night. Plus Drake’s keen detail to current fashions and how the clothes fit and move.
Most of the strips are clear and clean with strong lines. There are the occasional strip where the line art is broken or too black, but even on those Pelto has cleaned up the text and presented the material as best he could.