Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sequential Crush at Wizard World Nashville 2015!

If you find yourself in Music City, USA (aka Nashville) for Wizard World this coming weekend, be sure to visit me! This will be my first ever convention setting up a table for Sequential Crush, so I am very excited. I'll have copies of Ares & Aphrodite (I wrote the afterword) for sale, as well as my Look of Love booklet. You can find me in Artist Alley, table B21 -- I'll be the one with the big hair!

In addition to having a table in Artist Alley, I will also be on two panels talking about two topics near and dear to my heart -- romance comics (of course) and my grandfather/the 75th anniversary of the Green Lantern.

Friday, September 25th
7:00 – 7:45PM
(ROOM 105)
What is a Strong Female Character to you? Who is she? Is it Wonder Woman? She-Hulk? Is it someone who doesn't fight but kicks butt in other ways? Join Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia, Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, Most Craved), Genese Davis (author, The Holders' Dominion), Janet Lee (artist, Return of the Dappermen), Jacque Nodell ( and Renee Witterstaetter (editor, She-Hulk, colorist Avengers) to talk about your favorites, how things are changing and what makes someone 'strong.'

Sunday, September 27th
2:00 - 2:45PM
(ROOM 104AB)
75 years ago, in 1940, as the Nazi conquest of Europe continued and the Battle of Britain raged, the United States watched from the sidelines while instituting the first peacetime draft. At the same time, the world of comics was experiencing an incredible sustained period of invention, as The Joker, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Spirit, Catwoman, and Captains America and Marvel all debuted! (Not to mention the debuts of pop culture icons Bugs Bunny, and Brenda Starr, and classic movies Fantasia and The Great Dictator!) Showing and discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including moderator Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) as well as an array of history and pop culture experts, including Joe Casey (Ben 10) and Jacque Nodell (granddaughter of Green Lantern creator Martin Nodell).

Will you be there? If so, please be sure to stop by and say hello!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
for the Sequential Crush newsletter email list
for more romance comic book goodness! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Memoriam - Jay Scott Pike (1924-2015)

Yesterday morning I learned that we lost comic book great, Jay Scott Pike. He passed away on September 13th, though news of his death seems to have just reached industry folks this week. He left this world at the admirable age of 91, and his impact on the comic book industry will not be forgotten.

The artist at work.
Photo via Plymouth Harbor

Born in 1924 in Philadelphia, Pike started his training at the early age of 16 at the Art Students League in New York City. As so many comic book artists did, Pike took a break from his formal artistic endeavors when he joined the Marines. Following his military service, he continued his education at the Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and the Ringling School of Art.

During the 1950s, Pike was a frequent artist for Atlas, contributing to genres such as horror, westerns, jungle, and our favorite here at Sequential Crush -- romance.

Lovers #59 (March 1954)
Cover image from GCD

From the mid-1960s through the early ‘70s, Pike lent his extraordinary talent to DC Comics, where he contributed covers, interior art, and fashion featurettes to the romance comics such as "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns." When I had the opportunity to ask Pike a few questions about his romance work a few years ago he candidly remarked in regard to the fashion spreads, "Now there I must admit I did use reference from fashion mags." Reference or not, Pike clearly excelled in translating fashion from real life to the pages of the comics. 

Pike's romance work oozed
sophistication and glamour.

"Dolphin"- not quite romance, but close!
Showcase #79 (December 1968)
Cover image from GCD

Pike later went on to a successful career in advertising with accounts such as Pepsi, Trans World Airlines, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills. Pike is also well known for his continuation of Art Frahm's pin-up girl calendar series. For romance fans, he will always be remembered as one of the mainstays of the genre.

Pike also illustrated one of the most iconic
romance covers ever created. I'll be
posting more in-depth on this one soon.

Thank you Jay Scott Pike for the immense (not to mention gorgeous) body of work you left behind. I have a feeling that generations to come will get as much of a thrill from your work as we have.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recolored Reprint - DC Comics and Diversity

Hey everyone! I've missed you!!! I apologize for the lack of updates lately, but the end of summer turned out to be quite busy due to things like visiting with family, prepping for Wizard World Nashville (will you be there?!), and finishing the draft of my book. That's right! I finally finished writing it. Phew! It's been a long time coming and the hard work isn't over yet, but I'm pretty pumped. Currently, I'm in the editing phase and super excited for the steps ahead. If you'd like to stay in the loop about the progress of the book, as well as other cool stuff going on in the world romance comics, be sure to join the Sequential Crush mailing list!

Now, on to this evening's post! Back in 2011 during Hispanic Heritage Month I blogged about a story from Young Romance #171 (April/May 1971) called "Strangers in Love!" I promised back when I wrote that post that I would update you when I acquired the issue with the original story, as the 1971 version had been redrawn and recolored. Well that day has come! I finally picked up Heart Throbs #93 (December 1964/January 1965) which contains the original story, "A Date with Heartbreak!" illustrated by the legendary John Romita.

Go back and read about the 1971 version here!

As I had suspected in my 2011 post, Maria was originally Lisa --  a poor girl from the "wrong side of the tracks." You'll also notice that in addition to Lisa/Maria's change of ethnicity and name, Brad became a ginger.

Naturally, as these stories usually go, both of their families disapprove of the relationship and both young women are told to stick to their own kind of people.

In fact, the two stories are identical in plot and diverge from one another very little besides the art revisions.

In the end of both stories, the couples' relationships triumph -- proving that love not only unites people, but has the power to overcome deeply ingrained prejudices.

The fact that these two stories are six years apart and yet have a similar plot seems to suggest a high degree of DC's familiarity with their inventory. Whereas sometimes romance stories seem randomly selected for hairstyle and fashion revisions, this one was clearly intentional.

The original story, "A Date with Heartbreak!" really isn't all that unusual or special; after all, there were numerous comic book romance stories depicting the woes of star-crossed lovers. What is special about these two stories is that when considered together, they give us a glimpse into a past in which diversity was becoming an increasingly important aspect of American society, and consequently, was reflected in popular culture.

I hope you enjoyed this little update, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend to boot!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Now For Sale through Sequential Crush - Oni's Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars

One of the greatest pleasures of summer is sitting outside, sipping an ice-cold drink, and reading a good book. I don't know about you, but I always find myself reading exponentially more during the summer months. Are you a summer reader like me? If so, and you find yourself in need of something new to dig into, might I suggest Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars (Oni Press) by Jamie S. Rich and Megan Levens?

The romance genre is making a real resurgence in comic books, and Ares & Aphrodite is one of the leaders in this exciting renewed interest. I was beyond stoked when the creators asked if I would be a part of the project by writing the afterword, which is only available in this trade version. To make things easy, you can now buy the trade paperback version directly from me at my Gumroad store. Sure, I may not be as big as Amazon, but I will include a personalized note (stickers anyone?!) and I'm happy to sign the book if you'd like!

If you aren't familiar with the story, I'll let you in on a few things. Our handsome leading man is Will Ares, a divorce lawyer. When he meets cute-as-a-button Gigi Averelle (a wedding planner of all things) through their respective clients, it's love at first sight -- for Will at least! Gigi on the other hand, makes Will jump through a few hoops. Ares & Aphrodite is a gorgeously illustrated romance story that will keep you on the edge of your seat... Will Gigi and her suitor get together and let romance bloom or will their flirtatious battle keep on going? You are going to have to read it to find out! 

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, just head on over to my Gumroad store! I hope that you will take this opportunity to check out a fantastic romance story, and if you do, please let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for your support! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Charlton Romance Comics Take on Alcoholism - One for the Road

Ah, cautionary tales! As readers today, these tend to be the types of stories that help give the impression that romance comics were tone deaf to the needs of teen readers -- no matter how well meaning. "One for the Road" from Charlton's For Lovers Only #81 (October 1975) is one such story. I believe this to be a reprint (or commissioned sometime in the 1960s), due to the mod clothing worn by the characters. There appears to be a signature on the splash page, but I am unable to identify the artist at this time.

Before we dive in, it's worth pointing out the narration at the top of the page as an indicator of where the story is going to go:

"In this era of pot, acid, tranks, and all the other
garbage some kids do, I had to go and get involved with
one of the deadliest things of all... booze!"

I don't know about you but in my mind, dropping acid seems a bit more risky than indulging in a glass of wine (responsibly of course), but alas! Charlton did here what they did best... baffle. Interestingly enough, just a few years earlier, Charlton and its signature character Jonnie Love gave a sequential lecture on the danger of narcotics. Anyhow! Let's move on to today's story!

As you already saw in the splash page, Eve has tried wine for the first time... and well, she likes it. Like, really likes it. Reb, the man who introduced Eve to alcohol and is quickly becoming the object of her affection, tries to get her to slow down.

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that Eve is an alcoholic. Reb's ensuing quest to get Eve off the sauce proves fruitless.

Eve's girlfriends can't even convince her to take it easy.

Eve grows increasingly irritated with the concerns of those around her. She pays no mind to them, however, and continues to revel in her new found hobby. 

Reb grows especially concerned when Eve tells him one day that she "needs" a drink. Eve doesn't see Reb's concern for her, as she feels that he is just "preaching" at her. Eve flips out on him, gets out of his car, and tells him to get out of her life. She then flags down a passing car in hopes they will drive her back to town.

The car that picks her up (Eve clearly didn't read the DC story on the dangers of hitchhiking!) contains two sketchy men, but Eve gets in with them anyway. The three head to a bar, and the men proceed to buy Eve drink after drink. When one moves in on her, she demands that the men let her out to get a taxi. The guys pull over and as she runs off, a police officer passes in his squad car. Eve expresses her displeasure to the cop in all the "rat finks" around her. Taking pity on the distraught young woman the cop calls a taxi, and lets Eve sit in his car until her ride shows.

When Eve arrives home, her mother expresses concern with Eve's drinking, blaming it on Reb. Eve explains to her that Reb tried to warn her, but she got hooked despite his admonitions. Having had enough of being questioned, Eve heads out for a martini. Suddenly, Reb shows up and declares his love for Eve... the sober Eve. Reb lets her know how much he wants to marry her, but first, she must get on the wagon. Reb takes Eve to a doctor, who promptly prescribes her a "mild tranquilizer" and assures her that the pounds she's packed on during her bender will melt away.

Upon leaving the doctor's office, Reb suggests he and his sweetheart go to city hall and get married immediately. Eve convinces Reb that they should wait a month to make sure she is "cured," and so that she can lose the weight she gained so she will look good on their honeymoon. The two kiss, and presumably, live happily ever after with not a drop to drink.

While I know this is just a comic book story, the implication that curing alcoholism with the snap of a finger and tranquilizers seems like a more damaging message to me than no message at all. Though the story is beautifully illustrated and gets its point across well enough, for me, the Win Mortimer illustrated cautionary tale, "Pajama Party: The Night I Wish Never Happened" is far more impactful.

Either way, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into the wacky world that is Charlton! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this story!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
for the Sequential Crush newsletter email list
for more romance comic book goodness!