Monday, April 17, 2006

Yvoorg Ynnub!

Harvey Comics had quite a bit of success in the 1960s, with one breakout superstar (Richie Rich) and several titles that appealed mainly to the younger set: Baby Huey, Little Dot and Little Lotta. They also published a raft of Sad Sack comics.

But by the end of the decade, the downside of a reliance on younger readers may have become apparent as the baby boomers moved into their teens and twenties. Harvey experimented with two issues of a Spirit Comic that apparently didn't sell enough to justify continuing (although they were terrific). And so in 1967, they tried launching a comic book for pre-teen to young adolescent girls, called Bunny.

Bunny was clearly intended as a knockoff of Millie the Model. But what set it apart from that title was the conscious attempt by the writers to use teen slang. Or at least, what the writers thought was teen slang. In Bunny everything was groovy or zoovy or outasight. The ultimate compliment was that something was yvoorg! (Groovy spelled backwards).

I was an adolescent at the time these comics were coming out and while I wasn't the most with-it guy even I knew that this comic was trying too hard by half to be really hip. But my sister liked the comic despite snickering at the language, so it seemed to hit its market.

Bunny stories followed a pretty familiar pattern. She and her egotistical rival Esmeralda would meet some hip young artist, magician or rock star who would immediately fall in love with Bunny despite Esmy's desperate attempts to seduce him. The second part of the story usually involved the young man's occupation--he would show off his paintings, do some magic tricks, or put on a concert. The stories would continue as long as the writer and artist could come up with more gags, then they would stop abruptly. This will give you a flavor for it:

It was really just an extension of Little Dot's aunts and uncles.

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