Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The beatniks were a source of endless amusement to the mainstream media in the late 1950s and early 1960s, much in the way that their descendents, the hippies and the Goths, would be later. The stereotype of the beatnik is pretty much apparent on the cover: berets, long (for the times) hair, unkempt beards, patched clothes and imaginative footwear. Bob Denver played a beatnik on Dobie Gillis (before he became Gilligan). Snapper Carr got his nickname because he snapped his fingers, much like beatniks did in lieu of clapping their hands.
So it was not particularly surprising that the comic found its way onto the newstands in early 1962. Kookie herself is not a beatnik, she's a sweet young woman who works in a coffee shop apparently frequented by the beat crowd. She has dreams of making it big on Broadway, but like all aspiring actresses, she's dirt poor and has a roommate, the rather plain-looking Clara.
In the opening story, Clara can't sleep because of all the bongo-playing (another beatnik stereotype):
She wakes up late for work and hurries out the door. But her neighbor wants her to try on his latest creation:
But she can't get the ring off her finger, so she hurries to work with the jeweler following. When she gets to Mamma Pappa's (the coffee shop), the proprietor of the same name solves the problem:
By the way, despite the cover image, it does not appear that the male beatniks are immune to Kookie's charms:
A wealthy couple comes in, slumming it:
Later, Kookie delivers a cup of coffee to a sculptor, who uses it to soften the stone he works on:
He decides to let Kookie deliver the final blow. No particular surprise, the statue falls apart.
The second story is a little more amusing. Kookie has been offered a role in an off-Broadway play!
It turns out the houseboat is sinking, but that doesn't matter, as the play is about a young couple struggling to keep their heads above water. But the boat has sunk, and so they won't be able to stage the play until the tide goes out.
There follows a second feature called Bongo and Bop, about two beatniks who decide to go into a park to see what this fresh air stuff is all about. Once they get a whiff of the stuff, a change comes over them:
But when they step out of the park, the exhaust fumes from a bus overwhelm them and:
The final Kookie tale has her worried about walking home from the coffee shop, because Mamma Poppa's landlord has been harassing her. Mamma comes up with a solution: she can climb up a fire escape and take the rooftops home. But:
Now that makes no sense at all. Overall, I found the issue moderately amusing, with the Bongo and Bop story standing out as the best in the issue. Kookie made it to a second issue, but then disappeared for good.