Barbara’s First Story

The honest truth is (even though I was just looking at this comic in Barbara’s collection a few weeks ago), when I got the idea last week to do this as a story, I actually thought the issue was from November of 1958. Turns out, it’s from May. So, the anniversary isn’t quite as timely as I originally believed. But, hey, 60 years ago is still 60 years ago. (And if you want your money back, sue me!)

KK Cover

As a girl, Barbara loved comic books and paper dolls. (As an adult, she still loved comic books and paper dolls!) Katy Keene supplied both, as the comics usually came with a paper doll you could cut out. Katy is a young woman who is both a model and an aspiring actress. She has an agent,  a Ken doll-looking boy friend, and a little sister named Sis. The great gimmick about these comics was, the creator, Bill Woggon, invited readers to send in stories and illustrations. If he liked them, he used them for the comic book.

A 10-year-old Barbara – Barbara Embury at the time – sent in a story while she was living on the army base where her father served in Ft. Churchill, Manitoba. It became the first thing she ever had published! (Plenty more would follow, but not for another 30 years or so!) These were the days of Sputnik and the Space Race … and Barbara assured me that she knew the moon was NOT made of green cheese! I thought I’d share the story with you today. I’ve indicated near the top of Page 1 where she gets her credit, and although her father had been transferred and she was living in Ottawa by the time this issue came out, the Canadian Army forwarded her letters from kids all over North America!

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23 thoughts on “Barbara’s First Story

    1. That’s an interesting comment. I’m not sure she’d have said so. Barbara always felt her parents – her mother in particular – was pretty tough on her … though her mother most certainly did indulge and encourage Barbara’s early interests in movies, and comic books, and magazines and paper dolls.

  1. Barbara’s early imaginings are certainly of their time. Still quite an amazing story for a 10-year-old! Loved the book by U.R. Sputnik!

  2. Gifted kids are usually gifted in many different ways.
    She was truly gifted!…writing…creative jewellery…music.
    Pretty special.
    Thanks Eric for sharing

  3. Eric, I love what you are sharing of Barbara! She was pretty special to a few of us for her creative flair and we shared the paperdoll fascination! Everytime I see paperdolls I think of Barbara and her garden party fashion and her hats!

  4. As surviving member of the Katy Keene fan club, I enjoyed thinking again about those meetings. Our clubhouse was on the Hall landing. We spread out on the floor there and drew fantastic wardrobes for our paperdolls – no such thing as buying them at the store in those days. I can remember some of them but wouldn’t I love a quick time travel back for another look at those little girls playing there, not much bigger than Helaina is now. She showed me her story as she was writing it of course, but it was 2005 (when we finally caught up with each other again after nearly 50 years) before I saw the result!

  5. What a great story by Barbara, illustrating her literary talents at such a young age. A wonderful tribute to Barbara. Thank you Eric.

  6. Lovely story. As a boy, which I was over 70 years ago, I read superhero comics, but I remember this little girl comic. Shows Barbara’s talent. At her age I just read stories. However, your story shocked me. I thought Disney faked a moon landing! And, like some politicians, I believed the earth was flat and only 5000 years old!
    You burst my bubble

  7. Beautiful story & tribute to one of the dearest people we both knew Eric.
    What a cool comic strip! I never heard of it & I’m from that generation…I missed a lot growing up!
    Sherri-Ellen 🙂

  8. I too was a Katy Keene fan! No surprise, since Barbara and I had a lot in common. We both related as only children, had an enormous interest in fashion and appearance, were inspired by both visual and intellectual pursuits, started our publishing careers together at Prentice-Hall, were witnesses to each others’ development, first as mothers of cats and then of children. I miss her and have missed her for a long time. She remains alive for us through Eric’s words and our own memories.

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