Thursday, March 03, 2011

Millie the Lovable Monster

Much of what seems bizarre to modern (i.e., younger) comics fans is actually quite explicable to those who understand the kid culture of the 1960s.

The lovable but scary monster is a classic example. What were Casper, the Friendly Ghost, or the Addams Family, or the Munsters? Kids sympathized with Frankenstein as the villagers torched him alive in that old windmill. There was also the Beany and Cecil cartoon series about a boy and his friend the giant sea serpent, or Bizarro, the Superman supporting character I blogged about recently. Of course, it is not entirely as if this archetype has disappeared; the Iron Giant is a more recent example of the phenomenon.

There are good reasons why such characters are popular with youngsters. First, because kids are often the only ones who see the monsters the way they really are. The Casper theme song makes this explicit:

"Though grown-ups might look at him with fright, the children all love him so..."

And indeed, Millie is pretty much played the same way:

In addition, a well-intentioned but misunderstood character probably fits the way a lot of kids feel about themselves. They want desperately to be helpful but adults reject their assistance. (Often for good reason, as a kid's idea of help can turn out to be far more trouble than it's worth.)

Most of the adults quickly realize, however, that Millie really is a friendly monster. When the cops go to arrest her, they find her escorting an old lady across the street. But there must be a villain in the piece, and it turns out to be Mr Gotrocks, the town banker:

But when Millie pokes her head in the window, even Mr Gotrocks is won over. BTW, I am not sure where the name Gotrocks (usually spelled Gottrox) became a synonym for "very rich", but it's been around for quite a while. Here's a 1915 movie that features a character named "Patrick Gottrox - the Pickle King," which fits:

Gottrox decides to let Millie live in the old haunted house he owns, which nobody else will inhabit. Although he's wealthy, he's not anti-union:

But the union men won't work on the house because they're afraid of the ghosts. So the banker decides to have Millie haunt the haunts. She quickly cleans out the nasty ghosts and makes friends with Goodie, the (tickled) pink ghost. Goodie promises the union members professional courtesy:

The third segment is called "Millie Does the Twist." The Twist, of course, was a dance craze in the early 1960s:

That song is the only one to hit #1 twice; it reached the top in 1960 and in 1962. Chubby Checker later tried to get folks to do "The Fly", but they remained grounded:

At any rate, Millie's twisting causes havoc in the city:

And the city responds by banning the dance.

Later still, Millie goes to Hollywood where she becomes a star. Jealous, other monsters invade Hollywood, but Millie shows that while remaining lovable, she can still pack a punch:

The producers are ecstatic and the writers are working overtime on scripts for Millie. But she develops a bit of an artistic temperament:

So they rewrite the script to be Millie's life story as we've seen it in this comic, and Midway prospers. The End.

Comments: Obviously this is a very basic comic, intended for small readers. The art (by Bill Woggon) is appropriately cutesy. I did like some of the little touches, like the way he gave Millie a beret when she goes to Hollywood. There is a minimum of conflict in the story, which again may be appropriate for the age level this was aimed at.


Allan said...

Who would win in a fight between Millie the Monster and Millie the Model? Enquiring minds need to know.

Sina said...

Re: The Twist...

I know what you meant (or were getting at), but 'The Twist' is definitely *NOT* the only song to go to number one twice...many songs at the number one spot have been replaced by another, only to come back and replace that title again within a few weeks of themselves, mostly performed by the bigger/est names that you can think of, ie: Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna, Blondie, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, etc.

However, 'The Twist' by Chubby Checker is the only song which has earned the number one spot on two completely distinct & separate occasions, in fact years apart from each other, as you correctly noted in your posting :)