Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 11: Millie (the Model) Collins

Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 11: Millie the Model.

 

Millie is the frontrunner for all the "models" in comics, but rest assured that this blog goes out to all the pretty ladies in the pretty clothes. I grew up reading a lot of these comics, and there were a LOT of them to read. Millie herself had HUNDREDS upon HUNDREDS of issues of her various titles, and there were a huge wealth of other models with stacks of comics. I wish this was still a genre. Stories of pretty ladies having simple adventures. Not every story needs to have explosions and blood.

Millie sure does look good for how long she's been around. We have to go all the way back to 1945 in order to find her first appearance. Good thing beauty is eternal.

One of my all-time favorite logo designs.

Two bits of "wisdom" on the very same page, where we learn that learning to make herself more attractive is one of THE most important things in a woman's life, and then three panels later Millie's father makes the sad realization that no man can win against two women. Poor ol' guy. Oddly, the closest superhero equivalent that I can think of to the "models" comics is the old Fawcett comics with the Marvel Family. Not that the exploits are the same... just the pacing and the basic humor of the stories... stories that are more based on the quirks of human characters rather than who can shoot the most lasers from their ears, or punch the most ninjas in a phone booth.

The model comics always had fashion pages for clothes or hairstyles, etc. Many of them were reader submitted. Even during the course of a story there would be captions such as "Millie's fabulous frock submitted by Mr. Anton Lavey of San Francisco, California." Okay... I made that particular one up, but you get the picture. I so wish that today's comics would benefit from reader's submissions. I get a little sick of how often superheroes just hang out in their costumes. Can't you throw on a damn shirt? Reader submissions would take care of that shit, straight up.

The Millie comic books had a lot of different looks over the decades they were published, as did Millie herself.

This is one of my favorite covers, with Millie, Chili, Jill and Toni vamping it up. The "mod" period is one of the great periods for the model comics.

Millie pops back up in the Marvel Universe from time to time. Here's an appearance from Defenders # 65, where she's catching up with her old friend, Patsy Walker. Patsy, of course, managed to have a looooong career as a model in the comics, and then managed a jump into superhero comics as Hellcat. I'd personally love to do something similar with Millie. I did a bit of it already with Chili, Millie's rival.

Another version of Millie, this one from "15-Love" ... where Millie is a teen tennis star.

My own love for Millie is well documented, of course. I had a blast when Marvel contacted me to do the "Models Inc" comic... and I put in as many of the models as possible.

I made sure to use Jill Jerold. She wasn't only a fun character in the model comics, but was also the first black character that I can remember in comics that DIDN'T have "Black" as part of her name.

I also put Millie into a story in Age of Sentry, the book that Jeff Parker and I worked on together. Soooo much fun. This image is from the cover, illustrated by the amazing Dave Bullock.

The interior art for the Sentry story was by my #1 supergal, Colleen Coover.

Colleen and I also collaborated on another Millie story, this one with all our favorite Marvel women (well... a LOT of them) including the Enchantress, who is being her usual naughty self. Millie and the others team up with Thor to end her sexy evil schemes.

That's Millie, magically disguised as Thor. Hey... they got the same hair, right?

A quick cover gallery section. I could post a million of these things

Going to have a little fun, here, and reprint a few panels from one of my favorite Millie comics, and one of my favorite team-ups in Marvel Comics history... the time that Millie teamed up with Jack Kirby to pose for monster comics. Here you can see the models talking about Jack, and how SCARY he must be, if he draws all these comics. And then a panel where, gulp, Millie is assigned to pose for him. You can also see that scheming Millie already hatching a plan to get that job for herself.

Millie wisely decides to get the HELL out of there, but, as the story unfolds, she can't escape her fate.

So, it's off to Jack Kirby's house. Probably a house of horrors! I like how Millie envisions Jack as being a robot. Kind of fitting, really, as Jack could draw up to six million pages a day. Obviously a robot.

Millie gets a little scare, but it turns out that Jack is a pretty nice guy. It also turns out that he reads poetry. It also turns out, strangely, that he doesn't look much like Jack Kirby at all. I love this time period of comics (this was published in 1962, when Marvel's big explosion just starting to really take form) because Stan Lee and the members of Marvel's bullpen were always popping up in the comics. Had a sense of fun to them. Not sure why they couldn't make Jack look like Jack, here... though. This story was published in Millie the Model # 107. I dropped in the cover up there in the cover gallery.

You can't (or at least SHOULDN'T) talk about Millie and the other models without talking about Dan DeCarlo (left) and Stan Goldberg. These two guys did about a hundred million pages of the material. Take a bow, you two big damn ink-studs. Not many guys can say they made their living by drawing pretty girls. I'll be talking about these two in an upcoming post, and one of the other projects these fellows illustrated.

An example of Stan's original art. I own PILES of his original art (not this one, unfortunately) including an original Millie cover. It used to be that his pages were fairly cheap. It's changing, though, as collectors begin to give him the respect he deserves.

Wanted to drop in this fake cover by Shane Foley… a fun piece where he imagines a team-up with Millie and the FF. I wish it had really happened.

With Valentine's Day just a few days away, peeking out from under the blankets, it seemed like this would be a fitting image to close the post on America's favorite model, Millie Collins. Thanks for all the laughs, pretty lady.

THE “FAVORITE” LIST SO FAR

#25: Scarlet Witch

#24: Chance Falconer

#23: Vampirella

#22: Tigra

#21: Jean Grey

#20: Kitty Pryde

#19: Janet van Dyne

#18: Mary Jane Watson

#17: Hermione Granger

#16: Death

#15: Modesty Blaise

#14: Black Widow

#13: Sue Storm

#12: Fantomette

#11: Millie (the Model) Collins

——- DOWN BELOW IS JUST A REHASH OF WHY I’M DOING THIS LIST ———

I’ve been thinking about women, lately. Women characters in comics. Women creators in comics. Female characters in literature. And pretty girls riding around on bicycles or walking along the sidewalk, etc, etc. Because of this, I’ve decided to make An Entirely Useless List. Why is it entirely useless? Because it’s my top 25 female characters from comics and literature, and such lists change at whim and at a breakneck pace. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to quantify favorites… the term favorite is far too malleable. A list of my best friends from high school, for instance, would not include anyone with whom I’m currently in contact. Times change. Still… I’m making the list. Why? I suppose I just like thinking about women.

8 Comments

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8 Responses to Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 11: Millie (the Model) Collins

  1. Boy, I’m with you 100%. I wish the market were healthy enough that Marvel and DC could do (for lack of a better word) “Civilian” comics. And these kinds of stories are exactly what’s missing from the racks. If every title being published was like “Millie The Model” I’d be bored senseless but a comics line in which every book has to be dark and serious isn’t a whole lot better, is it? You need a balance of sweet and savory.

    I’d also hope that Millie the Model stays Millie the Model. Civilians are important, for color and perspective. The “Red She-Hulk” stories are good, nothing wrong with them at all. But for some reason I’m disappointed that yet another recurring civilian character has been lost to “the other side.”

  2. Paul Tobin

    I like the phrase “Civilian Comics.” I’m totally going to steal that and sound wise.

    And… yeah. I’d love for Millie to remain pure Millie. I wouldn’t mind her having a spy persona, let’s say… like some Modesty Blaise type action, but she doesn’t need to shoot lasers out of her eyes or bust through walls. I think it’s kind of funny / annoying in the Marvel universe that everyone, sooner or later, gets super powers.

  3. That’s not just limited to Marvel, o’course. How to you communicate to the reader that a character is strong and confident? The obvious answer is that you have him or her charge right into the abandoned warehouse to confront nine heavily-armed crooks. The harder solution is to have him or her call the cops and provide detailed information.

    The challenge must seem even tougher when you’re writing stories set in a world where, yes, people can shoot laser beams from their eyes and bust through walls. Lois Lane is so compelling because she’s so ordinary, though. She demonstrates real steel and backbone, while “leaving it to the professionals” when the situation clearly calls for bulletproof skin and the ability to bend steel with one’s bare hands.

    The biggest thrills of comics — of any kind of fiction — come when you can sense the writer is playing the game at Expert level. Betty Banner with Hulk powers isn’t a bad idea. It’s just an ordinary one.

  4. Paul Tobin

    I agree with that “ordinary idea” part, completely. Too many writers fall into that “first idea” syndrome. I suppose it’s part and parcel of any industry that demands gratification on AT LEAST a monthly basis. Still sad, though.

  5. Dean

    I really liked that panel of Jill Jerrold, all excited by watching Patsy beat up those camera thieves.
    After Millie got scratched by the wolf at the photo shoot in Models Inc #1, I was a little disappointed to reach the end of the series and realise that Millie had not at any time turned into a werewolf. So much for my hopes of a Millie/Werewolf By Night crossover… 🙂

  6. I’m a columnist & I sure know that it’s all about producing, producing, producing. Also, I’ve no idea which ideas were the result of lots and lots of hard work and which ones just popped into the writer’s head.

    Still! We can all cite stories where it was so clear that a writer decided to do something The Hard Way and it paid off in the form of an intensely satisfying read.

  7. Paul Tobin

    Oh man… I would so love to do a Millie / Werewolf By Night Crossover. If I could somehow have Colleen Coover do half the art, and Mike Ploog the other half, that would be like swimming in literary chocolate.

  8. I didn’t know that was the Millie in 15 Love. Cool!

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