Comic Strips: The Heart of Juliet Jones

I don’t wish to spend too much time doing snarky humor on this blog — not because it can’t be fun, but because there is so much of it already around — but I realized I’ve spent so much time giggling about this particular comic strip that I really ought to share it. The web site runs, besides a bunch of the King Features Syndicate comic strips you can’t quite believe are still running (The Katzenjammer Kids Somehow Because It’s 2013, Right?), some classics from the old days (The Katzenjammer Kids Slightly Less Somehow Since It Was 1940 I Guess).

Among them is Stan Drake’s The Heart Of Juliet Jones, the long-running soap opera strip about how Juliet Jones does not get married. In a strip rerun just a couple days ago, originally printed the 28th of December, 1955, her engagement with Johnny the Civil Engineer certainly appears to have wrapped up its mild complications (Johnny was so into the chic of building bridges he hasn’t minded that he’s under-paid and under-promoted at work) when, well, here. You don’t really need even that much introduction to follow it.

The ruthlessness with which the potentially happy ending is crushed makes me laugh in a way that can’t have been meant — or could it?

I’ve listened to quite a few old-time radio mystery and suspense shows, with the arch, melodramatic acting and loud organ stings at every carefully highlighted moment building to the twist Rod Serling would later rip off; they can manage to be both tolerably suspenseful and utterly unbelievable at once, and I wonder if the original audiences were listening with the same mix of suspense and incredulity that I have. Remember that one of the great radio suspense shows of all time, really and truly, was — exactly as the Bill Cosby routine had it — an episode of Lights Out about a scientist whose biochemical experiments caused the beating heart of a chicken to grow until it consumed the East Coast. Scary? Yes. Too ridiculous to be scared by? Yes. (Unfortunately only truncated versions of the original radio broadcast seem to be available.)

How long have they coexisted? And were the great soap opera strips of the past living in the same intersection of reality and disbelief?


Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

2 thoughts on “Comic Strips: The Heart of Juliet Jones”

  1. If you mean funny “ha ha” no, this is not that.

    “The Heart Of Juilet Jones” ran from the mid 50’s to the early 2000’s so there must have been a few out there who thought it a pretty well done strip. I have an original 16 x 20 drawing of Eve Jones given to me by Stan Drake for sending him a short note commenting on his art work.

    As for old time radio, it is still being broadcast every day on Sirius XM. Must be something in those shows that is still enjoyable today.

    The thing that is funny is that you don’ t see the good because raging against something always seems to get the most attention.


    1. I am surprised to learn that The Heart of Juliet Jones ran until the 2000s (Toonopedia claims New Year’s Day, 2000; Wikipedia, New Year’s 2001; either seems possible), but I suppose that speaks to how a comic strip once established will keep on going. I’m intrigued to learn that Frank Bolle drew the strip in its last decades; he’s been drawing Apartment 3-G lately, although his work hasn’t been the best lately. (Of course, see how well I draw at his age.)

      I quite like old-time radio, but there are things I wonder about how the audience originally took it. There’s quite a few stories that are enjoyable if you can accept the archness of the style, and I wonder if the style was transparent or if it was just taken as the way these stories are told.


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