Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fresh Romance Giveaway! (CLOSED)

I hope y'all are enjoying your weekend! The folks at Rosy Press have generously agreed to give one lucky Sequential Crush reader a three month subscription to their digital romance anthology, Fresh Romance (issues 1, 2, and 3)! An article by moi on romance comic book fashion will be in issue #2 (out June 30th), so you don't want to miss entering this giveaway! (Edit: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!)

Use the form below to enter via the comments, Twitter, or the Sequential Crush Facebook page, or all three to triple your chances! Once we have a winner, I will give the lucky person's name and email to Rosy Press, and voila! You'll be on the Fresh Romance train!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck, romance fans!
Entries close June 30th at midnight (CST)

Thank you so much for reading!
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Friday, June 26, 2015

HeroesCon 2015!

Babs Tarr Spider-Gwen #5
variant for HeroesCon 2015

Last weekend I had the good fortune of attending HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though it was my first time attending HeroesCon, I can now say it is hands down one of my personal favorite conventions.

The boy, James, and I were able to make the journey to Charlotte into a really nice (and much needed) roadtrip. First, we drove to the Smokies, and spent a few days frolicking in nature and enjoying the outdoors. A couple days in the wilderness did us good!

Not comics, but I also love hiking
and exploring National Parks!

After a brief stop in Asheville, it was on to Charlotte for the con! Immediately upon our arrival, I was blown away by the hospitality of the Heroes staff. After their friendly welcome and a quick walk around the convention floor, I knew it was gonna be a great show full of… you guessed it… COMICS!

Yes, HeroesCon is unlike many of the other conventions you may have heard of and/or attended. It is a real life comic book convention. It was the comic book convention of my youth -- full of comic dealers, and brilliant artists in a well-planned out artists alley. The other thing I loved? It was SO family friendly. So many little kids enjoying themselves around comic books was definitely encouraging to see.

One of the highlights of the show for me was meeting up with Suzan Loeb, whom some of you probably remember from my interview with her back in 2010. After a big hug and a chat, we had an opportunity to have a little private meeting with Stan Lee. After all, Suzan was the Marvel Bullpen's "Groovy Gal Friday" in the late ‘60s. The reunion between two comic book greats was amazing to see, and I felt so thankful to be there in that moment.

Looking on as Suzan reminisces with Stan

Another exciting moment was visiting with Paty Cockrum at her table. I was sure to tell her how much I adore the romance story she penciled in My Love, and in return, she regaled me with stories of working for Marvel. What stuck with me was when Paty said that despite her tremendous three hour commute (each way) to get to there, working in the Marvel Bullpen was magic. I pretty much got goosebumps!

Chatting with the legendary Bernie Wrightson was also a treat, as was seeing the gorgeous art of Kevin Wada and Babs Tarr -- both of whom are involved with the Rosy Press anthology, Fresh Romance.

When we weren't in Artists Alley, much of my time was spent looking through long box after long box of comic books in search of romance titles to add to my collection, and of course -- share with all of you! To my delight, I was able to pick up 77 issues of romance comics. Whooohooo! I absolutely cannot wait to tell you about the gems I find in the issues I picked up!

Just a sampling of the romance comics
I picked up at HeroesCon

As a first time HeroesCon attendee, I was thoroughly impressed. This show is a favorite of so many comic book fans and now I totally see why. I can’t wait to return, and experience the show as an exhibitor -- hopefully next year!

Thank you so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the
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for more romance comic book goodness! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Serious Topics in 1970s Romance Comics - Girl Hitch-Hiker Missing!

When I lived in Denmark and worked in the LEGO Group's archives, there were a few Saturdays I went in the office to work on a collection I was processing. There in the storage -- alone -- was freaky enough, but for some reason I decided that watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries on YouTube while I archived materials was a good idea. There was one episode I saw that stuck with me. It was about two young Swedish women that hitchhiked in California, went missing, and were subsequently found murdered. As I watched the grainy video, I was totally spooked. I also thought to myself -- with all the uncertainty it brings, who on Earth would hitchhike? But people did, and for many years (especially around the Great Depression) it wasn't that big of a deal.

The romance story "Hitch-Hiker" that I have for you this evening from Young Romance #206 (July/August 1975) (cover pencils by Creig Flessel, and story pencils by Win Mortimer) tells a cautionary tale of hitchhiking. The story's simple message? Hitchhike and something bad will befall you.

So what happened? How did hitchhiking go from something that was rather commonplace to something that was viewed as incredibly dangerous? Among other events, in 1972 and 1973, a rash of hitchhikers were murdered near Santa Rosa, California, shocking the nation. The case of Kathy Devine in 1973, a young teenager found murdered after hitchhiking in Seattle, no doubt exacerbated the fear of the practice. A hitchhiking ban was even sought by the victim's family via petition. Though it is not certain whether this comic book story is based on any real life headline as it proclaims to be, it no doubt was intended to capitalize on the shock value of hitchhiking, and simultaneously act as a warning to young readers.

"You've read the headlines -- now here is the story --
my story of danger and despair -- and an ill-fated kind of love ---"

Sally is a free-spirited young woman. Along with her friends, she has no qualms of hopping into cars with strangers as her primary mode of transportation. That is, until she is taken on a ride that is more than she bargained for.

The people that pick Sally up range from the fatherly type, to the older cute guy. But one never knows when attempting such risky behavior who will drive by and offer a ride.

Sally thinks she has it all worked out until one day she is a approached by a car of two men who seem suspicious. Though Sally tells them that she is waiting for her dad to pick her up, one of the men insists on introducing himself. He says that he is a newspaper reporter, and the driver of the car, a photographer.

The two are working on a feature for the paper about hitchhikers, and would like to observe Sally. Hesitant at first, Sally eventually decides that the arrangement sounds too exciting to pass up and agrees to let the two men follow her on her next hitch. The reporters give Sally a boost of confidence, and she accepts the next ride despite the fact the men in the car look "unsavory." She soon regrets her decision.

Once the men are notified by Sally that they are being followed by reporters, the driver screeches out into traffic, eventually losing the newspaper men. As the car careens out of control, Herb, the long-haired lunk tells Sally, "You'd better pray, baby!" Turns out the car they are driving isn't just any old car. It's stolen.

The men hole up in an abandoned summer cottage, and in one of the most shocking panels in a 1970s romance comic, lock Sally in the strange attic for the night.

It's hard to see where any romance could enter this story, but when Ralph (the reluctant kidnapper of the bunch) releases Sally from the attic, she begins to feel tenderly toward her rescuer. A brief connection between them is halted when the other men barge in the cottage with a newspaper. It turns out the reporters were legit, and they even snapped a photo of the captors' getaway vehicle. Herb instructs Ralph to watch Sally while they hide the car in the woods. Finding themselves alone together once again, Ralph helps Sally get to the nearby bus stop off the highway to make her escape.

After divulging his love for her, Ralph and Sally kiss goodbye. Will they ever see each other again? While their future is uncertain, the one thing that can be counted on is that after the harrowing experience, Sally will never take another ride from a stranger again -- no matter how cute.

With just enough romance thrown in to stay true to the brand, "Hitch-Hiker" can certainly be viewed as an attempt by DC for relevancy. What do you think? Did DC bring the drama with "Hitch-Hiker" or was this story indicative of the romance genre inching past its prime? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this unusual story!

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Monday - Paper's the Thing!

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic and relaxing weekend. A big thank you to everyone who took the time to read and/or comment on my last post. It was a bit emotional to write, so thank you for being so wonderful!

Click each page to enlarge!

It's been awhile since I've shared a "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns," so when I came across this gorgeous Tony Abruzzo piece from Young Romance #147 (April/May 1967) over the weekend, I just had to share. I don't know about you -- I probably wouldn't wear a paper dress, but these are absolutely elegant. If you are interested in learning more about Abruzzo's background, be sure to check out my artist spotlight on him and his contributions to both comics and the world of fashion.

Not sure how I feel about paper pants.
Methinks the chafe factor would be too high!

Speaking of fashion... 

I'll be contributing an article on the fashion of the romance comics to the second issue of the new Rosy Press romance anthology, Fresh Romance. Issue two is slated to drop June 30th, so be sure to pick up a copy and stay tuned here for more info! In the meantime, treat yo self and check out issue one. The stories are sweet and the art is killer, so don't miss out on this modern foray into the romance genre!

A preview of Fresh Romance #2

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On Setting a Love Free - An Update

I know you've heard that old adage, “if you love something, set it free” probably more than once -- and with good reason. It tends to be true. For so many romance comic book characters, setting a loved one free (for whatever reason) is the best thing they ever did, and most of the time, brings them closer to their true path. I am writing this today because I have set something free in my own life, and I want to tell you about it.

Things have been tough. Really tough, actually; mostly courtesy of “career” stuff, AKA the Day Job. As many of you know, I was trained in museum studies. I was fortunate enough to work in the field for many years at some amazing institutions, but since moving to Nashville, I've been unable to find employment in a museum. After two years of volunteering, networking, meetings, interviews, an intense amount of gumption, and doing everything I could to find a museum job here, it has become clear that it is not in the cards. Frankly, I give up. Now, I don't usually encourage people to give up on things, but sometimes, it can be the best course of action. Allow me to explain.

Giving up hope of working in a museum as a day job (at least right now) has been a recent development. Perhaps not surprisingly, the moment I did give up that hope and expectation for myself, I suddenly felt free. Free to focus on the REAL work that is my life’s mission and passion -- comic books! Now, I still need to find a day job that is at least a little less soul crushing than my current one, but in the meantime, I'm going to try to make the best out of everyday and remember that all those years of museum work prepared me to curate and share my love of comic books and history.

Museums are just one of my loves.

I'm telling you all this because you and I, dear readers, go way back! Plus, I have so many creative friends out there, and I know I always find it helpful to read about their struggles and how they've overcome them to do awesome things. I also want to take this opportunity to segue into telling y'all more about the book I've been working on for a while now. 

About two years ago, I began writing a book pitch for a manuscript on a complete history of the 1960s and '70s romance comics. I intended it to be glorious and wonderful, and naturally, so good that no publisher could pass it up. And while I do think it was quite good and I did my very best to make it a stellar document, it straddled the line between too academic and the voice I use here at Sequential Crush. I sent it to a few agents and though not typically advised, directly to a few publishers. I actually got some really great feedback, so not all was lost, but ultimately, no one was interested. After not getting any bites, I retooled the book idea, and decided to really narrow in on one component of the romance comics… the advice columns! It will be a smaller, illustrated book that will cover the wisdom of the romance comics, and show that though some of the advice is dated, much of it is timeless. I still have every intention of writing the larger book in the future, because I believe a complete history of the 1960s and 1970s is vital to the preservation of the genre.

As for the advice book -- I don't have a final title for it yet, but I am done writing the first draft and am in the editing process. Once the writing is polished, I will begin working on the design aspect of the book. I plan on doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help fund the illustrator/designer, as well as help with printing costs since I will be self-publishing. I hope that when that day comes, you might consider donating a little somethin’ somethin’!

I am so looking forward to finishing this book. Not only will it feel great to complete a large project, I feel like this book is just the start and will help get the ball rolling on all the other book projects and ideas I have up my sleeve. In the meantime, I'm excited about my decision to let go of the expectation for myself to have a day job in a museum, and all the emotional exhaustion that went with it. Maybe in the future that love will return, but for now, the comic books fully and completely have my heart.

Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey -- you are the best! I promise it will be worth it!

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