When Kathy Met Patsy Walker

Now, this is a fun little Easter Egg, although I’m not quite certain who it was intended for. It may simply have been editor Stan Lee amusing himself, as he sometimes did in the girl humor titles. In any event, those books operated in a loose quasi-relationship with one another that was almost a precursor to the Marvel super hero universe. Lee had already discovered the promotional benefits of having the characters from one title meet those in another, a strategy that he would employ among the Marvel hero books to great effect. But this particular story–brought to my attention by regular reader bserum–has a wonderfully meta aspect to it. It was scripted by Stan Lee and illustrated by Stan Goldberg.

You see in this tale, in the world of Kathy and her cast of characters, Patsy Walker and her cast are not only real people but they’re also the stars of several regular comic magazines. The main plot of this short story involves both Kathy and her rival Liz submitting designs for outfits to the Patsy Walker comic books. Kathy’s is chosen and published, of course, which leads Liz to seek out the real Patsy and her cohorts in nearby Centerville to complain about the slight.

What’s more, in this story Kathy is aware of her own comic magazine–which Patsy Walker’s nemesis Hedy Wolfe is familiar with as well.

Buzz Baxter, on the other hand, is completely clueless about the Kathy comic book.

But here’s the kicker to the whole thing. If you look at PATSY AND HEDY #79, which was mentioned specifically in this story, you can see that Kathy Carter was actually credited for a design in it. I’m told that most of these credits were fictitious anyway–Flo Steinberg used to relate randomly attaching the names of letter writers to them, so the kids would get a thrill, seeing their names in print. But in this case, nobody who didn’t read the KATHY issue would know anything about this reference.

And sure enough, as indicated in the final panels of that Kathy story, Liz Hilton’s design is credited in PATSY WALKER #98 as well. Again, I don’t know who was meant to be amused by this subtle little cross-continuity–but sixty years after the fact, I was.

6 thoughts on “When Kathy Met Patsy Walker

  1. I expect it wasn’t merely for amusement, but cross-promotion.

    Patsy appearing in KATHY might get Patsy readers to pick up KATHY (it’d be more effective if he put Patsy on the cover, but maybe there was a schedule/inventory problem with that?), and Patsy then promotes her book by name and issue number to KATHY readers.

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  2. It may have been for writerly amusement as well. They’d hardly be the first creators to slip in Easter Eggs to amuse themselves.
    I’ve written at Atomic Junkshop about what comic books are like in the MU and DCU. I’ll have to add a comment linking to this one.

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  3. Looking at the cover date — Dec 1961 — Marvel didn’t have a superhero universe yet, just a single issue of FANTASTIC FOUR (and Dr. Droom, but they’d already given up on him). It could be that Stan and maybe even Goodman, paying attention to DC, wanted to try out some cross-series connections in addition to creating a superhero book, and all they had for established characters were the gal humor books and the cowboy heroes.

    I mean, I expect it was fun, too, but things can have multiple purposes.

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