THE HEART OF JULIET JONESMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features
First Appeared: 1953
Creators: Elliot Caplin (writer) and Stan Drake (artist)
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Apple Mary, to the steamy romances of the 1950s. A 1953 King Features entry proclaimed itself a '50s-style soap right in the title — The Heart of Juliet Jones.
Drake, whose background includes magazine and comic book illustration, drew the strip in a slick, realistic, modern-looking style, similar in general appearance to Ken Ernst's work on Mary Worth and Leonard Starr's on Mary Perkins On Stage. He later used the same style in a series of graphic novels about a character named Kelly Green — but in 1984, when he began drawing Blondie, he proved himself capable of a radically different look. After 1984, Juliet Jones was drawn by Frank Bolle, whose highly diverse comics credits include Apartment 3-G and Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom.
The strip's writer, Elliot Caplin, was the lesser-known brother of Al Capp, the cartoonist responsible for Li'l Abner — but his accomplishments in comics belied his lack of fame to the general public. In addition to this one, he co-created Peter Scratch, Big Ben Bolt and others. He served writing stints on many more, including Abbie & Slats, Long Sam and Little Orphan Annie. He was also the man behind Toby Press, a small comic book publisher of the late 1940s and early '50s, and played many other roles in comics.
Juliet Jones, the protagonist, was a woman in her 30s, mature and not as given to flighty affairs of the heart as the strip's title would imply — nor as given to them as was her younger sister, Eve. Juliet, the "grown-up" of the two, had more-or-less stepped into her mother's role — not just as surrogate parent to Eve, but also as an aide to her widowed father, Howard. She managed a few romantic entanglements of her own, however, and actually married lawyer Owen Cantrell in 1970 — but since this is a soap opera, Cantrell was murdered in 1985.
The Heart of Juliet Jones was far more successful than the majority of story strips that started after World War II. In fact, it lasted nearly half a century. But the times became increasingly hostile to that style of storytelling, and the strip finally succumbed. The last episode appeared January 1, 2000.