Millie the Model was one of Marvel Comics' longest-running features. It showcased Millie Collins, a young model for the Hanover Agency, along with her best friend, Toni Turner; her photographer and boyfriend, "Clicker" (originally "Flicker"), and her "redheaded rival", Chili Storm. Other characters include Millie's boss, Mr. Hanover; Fat Girl pal Daisy, and Daisy's Jughead-esque boyfriend, Marvin.
Millie appeared in the Millie the Model title as well as several spinoffs, including A Date with Millie, Life with Millie, Mad About Millie and Modelling with Millie, from 1945 to 1973. Chili Storm also had her own title, Chili, from 1969 to 1973.
Originally a humor feature, Millie the Model became a romance-adventure series between 1963 and 1967, before shifting back to humor for the remainder of its run. As a humor feature (and particularly in the 1967-1973 incarnation, which closely mimicked the Archie house style), Millie read something like a slightly more sophisticated Archie Comics title, albeit one about young professionals instead of high-schoolers.
While hardly what one now thinks of as "typical" Marvel Comics, Millie's were quite successful for many years. Many of Millie's writers are better known for other comics. Denny O'Neil, Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich are among her writers in the "romance-adventure" years. And the writer for the vast majority of her humor stories? None other than Stan Lee himself! Indeed, Stan has often said in interviews that humor writing is his first love, and even as he gradually cut back his direct involvement with Marvel's superhero titles, he kept writing Millie.
Millie herself has interacted with the wider Marvel Universe on occasion. She was on the guest list for the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, and has occasionally turned up in other Marvel titles over the years. Most recently, Millie was the star of the 2009-2010 miniseries Models, Inc. Rather surprisingly, Chili Storm has also turned up (sans Millie) in several stories in the Marvel Adventures line. In 2011, Millie starred in another miniseries, 15 Love, in which she is recast as a teenage tennis player. In 2015 an alternate-universe Robot Girl version of her appeared in Secret Wars (2015) as "Mill-E the Model Citizen".
Millie the Model provides examples of the following tropes:
- Alliterative Name: Millie the Model was one of several similar "career girl" titles launched around the same time: Nellie the Nurse, Sherry the Showgirl, and Tessie the Typist were others.
- Belly Dancer: On the cover◊ of issue #170.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Hanover Agency's three top models: Millie, Toni and Chili.
- Britain Is Only London: Millie and her pals visited Swinging London several times in 1966-67. Toni seemed to think taking a bus to Liverpool (to visit the birthplace of The Beatles, natch), then coming back to London to see Big Ben on the same day was an eminently reasonable plan.
- Butt-Monkey: As a girl-oriented feature in an overwhelmingly boy-oriented line, the series itself was often the butt of jokes in Marvel's own hype pages. Even when Marvel occasionally tried to push the series to its Periphery Demographic, the hype had a certain grudging quality, as in this "Bullpen Bulletin":ITEM: Here's an announcement we never expected to make! We're gonna recommend that you take a peek at — of all things — the latest ish of Millie the Model! We've changed the mag around completely — new type of artwork and stories — and honest to Aunt May, it's really kinda funny.
- Cool Crown: Some of Millie's modeling jobs would give her a tiara as part of the outfit, to fit the Up Marketing tone.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jill Jerold, a Token Black character introduced near the end of the romance-adventure era, disappeared entirely after the Genre Shift (though she did turn up in the brief 2009 Models, Inc. revival.)
- Costume Porn: A lot from reader submissions, that were incorporated into the comic.
- Creator Cameo: Millie had more of them than you'd think:
- Stan Lee and artist Stan Goldberg appear in one story as the creators of a comic book starring Millie.
- Jack Kirby, of all people, guest starred in a 1962 story. He never actually drew Millie in Real Life, but in the story, he needs a life model for the girl in one of his monster stories. See some of the highlights on Bully's Comics blog.
- Curtain Clothing: Improvised by Millie's friend after Chili swipes Millie's dress for a fashion contest.◊
- Demoted to Extra: Millie's best friend, Toni, barely appears in post-1967 stories, except for the occasional Side-Story Bonus Art "fashion pin-up" page. Presumably much of this is due to the nasty, scheming Chili offering better story hooks for short humor stories than nice, supportive Toni.
- Distracted by the Sexy: A frequent cover gag.
- Expy: Marvin is quite similar to Archie Comics' Jughead in personality — lazy, perpetually hungry, and while he has a girlfriend in Daisy (herself something of a Big Ethel Expy), he's remarkably inattentive to her needs.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Millie is often the center of attention where she goes.
- Fashion Dissonance: The clothes worn by Millie and her pals (and remember, they're actually in the fashion industry) in the late '60s and early '70s stand out. Usually not in a good way, though there's a certain kooky charm to the outfits seen in the stories and fashion "filler" pages.
- Fashion Model: Millie is a supermodel, and her co-workers are also models.
- Fashion Show: Several stories and gags involve catwalk shows.
- Fat Girl: Millie's friend Daisy is a relatively happy and well-adjusted example of the type.
- Fiery Redhead: Chili Storm, "Millie's Redheaded Rival", fits the trope perfectly.
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: Many Millie stories would be reprinted (possibly with minor art changes to reflect current fashion trends) a few years later, under the assumption that the original audience had moved on.
- Genre Shift: From humor to romance-adventure, then back to humor.
- Glory Seeker: The Marvel Adventures version of Chili, who fights crime as "The Lynx" only to publicize herself and the Lynx comic that runs in Poser, a fashion magazine. She learns a lesson by the end of the story.note
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The blonde, innocent, and good-hearted Millie exemplifies both halves of the trope.
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Depending on the Artist, Millie and friends have these, including Hartman Hips.
- Jerkass: Chili, usually.
- Modeling Poses: Of course the girls do plenty of poses in the comic, but one cover had Millie stuck in a pose because a dress was too delicate for her to move while it was being repaired, and she was on the verge of getting horrible cramps.
- Only Six Faces: Unsurprisingly, a feature that often aped Archie, and was drawn by artists who also did work for Archie Comics shares this trope with them.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Millie and Chili.
- Pimped-Out Dress: They get a lot of fancy dresses to model.
- The Problem with Pen Island: Possibly the reason Millie's boyfriend's name changed from "Flicker" to "Clicker." (Alternatively, it may have simply been that "Clicker" sounds like a better nickname for a photographer.)
- Pretty in Mink: Millie and Chili own a few fur wraps, and have modeled several furs. The corner icon for the comic was, for a number of years, Millie in an ermine wrap. Millie also wore a white fox wrap many times on the covers. One issue showed Millie was hired to model a coat in the middle of summer. There was also a recycled gag of Millie trying on a fur at a store, and the owner asks if she wants it modeled by one of the employees.
- Remembered Too Late: A good setup for a gag, like a cover where she remembers she doesn't smoke just as she's about to shoot for an ad on a cigarette campaign.
- The Rival: Chili, although she herself got another redhead, Scarlet Mayfair, as a rival for an issue or two.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Or more like "Screw the Rules, She's Beautiful", when it comes to some guys and Millie.
- Sex Sells: In-Universe gags about it, when Millie is given swimsuits and slinky dresses to wear for products that have nothing to do with her clothes.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Jill Jerold, a Token Black character added very late in the adventure era, was dropped entirely in the post-1967 stories (though she did turn up in the 2009 Models, Inc. revival).
- Side-Story Bonus Art: Filler pages of Millie and friends in the latest fashion were a staple of her titles.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Chili was made a lesbian (or possibly bisexual) in 2009's Models, Inc.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Millie and company, whether the clothes were owned or modeled.