Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Back!

Friends! Thank you so much for all your patience, thoughts, and encouraging words during this difficult time -- I appreciate it more than you know. I have missed the world of blogging very much. I am slowly easing back into things, and I have some good stuff in store for you all in the upcoming weeks.

The last poll ended a few days ago, and the results surprised me a bit! I asked whether you read romance comics for the art or the stories, and the majority of voters responded stories. I actually thought it would be the other way around... very interesting! I have put up a new silly little poll -- it may help to look through old posts for this one!

After taking the poll, here is some advice on "Fifteen Ways to Get Over a Broken Heart" from Young Romance #175 (October 1971). My favorite tip -- "Buy a hat." Finally. Sound advice that you can trust. These also work well for New Years resolutions!

Thanks again everyone. I hope your holidays were lovely and special and filled with lots of snow and love! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009


Hi friends of Sequential Crush!

You may have noticed that I have been absent the past week and a half. On a very sad note, my mom passed away unexpectedly last weekend. I had to leave pretty quickly for the funeral and there was no time to post before leaving. It is a really hard time for me right now, but I will get back to posting soon. My mom was a big fan of Sequential Crush and I wouldn't want to let her down. So, sometime this week I will be back with more romance stories and a new poll. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Yours in romance,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unlikely Romance - Night Nurse #1

If you have followed Sequential Crush for a while, you may have gathered that one of my favorite comic book romance artists is Winslow Mortimer. Last week, Mykal over at the blog Gold Key Comics featured a Mortimer story from Ripley's Believe It or Not #28 (September 1971). I was super excited to see Mortimer art from a genre other than superhero or romance. I promised Mykal that I would showcase some of Mortimer's romance work, and Night Nurse really is the pinnacle of his work drawing pretty ladies.

I know what you are thinking... Night Nurse isn't romance! I beg to differ however! Though it may not be one of the traditional romance comic book titles, it has the proper elements -- fashion, a group of roommates, a love interest and plenty of drama!

The splash page of Night Nurse #1 (November 1972) (penciled and inked by Mortimer and written by Jean Thomas) introduces us to the beautiful and torn Linda Carter, Student Nurse. Like many romance characters, Linda is conflicted with the decision of career or man.

Agonizing over the decision, Linda harkens back three years prior to when it all began. First came the joyous celebration accompanying the acceptance letter, and then the meeting of roomies - Georgia Jenkins and Christine Palmer. Though from completely different walks of life, they share one common goal -- to become a nurse.

The three young women soon learn that their training is no walk in the park. Their days are filled with grueling classroom lectures, practical laboratory work, and patient interaction. While they all love nursing -- they do not love each other. Having been placed together as roommates by a dorm mother and not by choice, Linda, Christine and Georgia must learn to get along if they want to make it through their intense training at Metro General.

One evening, while bickering in their dorm, the three heroines are called back into the hospital for an emergent situation involving a four-alarm fire. They forget their beefs with each other while shuffling children to the burn ward and unloading ambulances. It isn't until things calm down that the stress catches up with Linda. She is consumed with homesickness. Her tears open the floodgates, which in turn opens the door to friendship between the three roommates.

Time flies for the student nurses as their training continues. Three years go by and page ten of the story takes us to their senior year. It is during that last year that Linda meets Marshall Michaels -- a handsome and pushy prospective donor who happens to be in for an Appendectomy.

As you can see from the gorgeous close up of their romantic kiss, Mr. Michaels and Linda become quite fond of each other and decide to take their relationship farther than nurse and patient.

Linda goes on a dream date with Marshall which involves a ride on his "rowboat" and dinner at a French restaurant. It also involves an ultimatum.

Meanwhile, while Linda mulls over leaving her career to become Mrs. Michaels we get to know Christine and Georgia. Christine, estranged from her rich father also faces a choice. Continue with nursing after graduation or receive anything she wants from daddy.

Though Georgia's life isn't as glamorous as Linda's or Christine's, it is by no means less meaningful. Her day off doesn't mean yacht rides or promises of European vacations -- but a return to her neighborhood. After visiting with her family she attends to a sick neighbor and a young man who is injured in a street fight. Though her time off was rewarding, she is bothered by the fact that her brother Ben won't return home.

The mystery of Ben's whereabouts is soon uncovered when the downtrodden areas of the city are "browned out" and lose electricity due to a heat wave. Unrest becomes apparent, and those affected by the loss of electricity gather at the hospital to show their displeasure. Among those who descend on Metro General is Georgia's brother Ben and his up-to-no-good friend Rocky.

Georgia tries to get to the bottom of why they are headed to the basement of the hospital. Though she is suspicious, Ben sways her into believing that they are doing "work."

While going back to attend to injured patients, Georgia and her roommates overhear that there has been a short and the brown-out has turned into a full scale black-out. Linda is comforted by the fact that the hospital has a large generator until Georgia reveals her encounter with her brother and Rocky. Realizing that they were headed towards the generator, the three heroic nurses spring into action.

Though it is too late for the guard, Georgia and Linda catch Rocky just as he is about to throw down an explosive device. What Ben thought was an attempt to coerce the electric company into restoring power to the city, has turned into a violent fiasco. In an effort to shutdown Rocky, Ben himself is brought to the ground.

Georgia applies pressure to Ben's wounds to control the bleeding and Linda trips Rocky -- sending the bomb flying into her hands. While looking down the barrel of a gun, Linda tries to convince Rocky that he is making a terrible mistake. He isn't having it. Luckily, the police rush to the scene in the nick of time. Obviously shaken from the events, Georgia is surrounded by her two friends who vow to see that justice prevails and Ben gets the medical and legal help he needs.

While at Ben's side with Georgia and Christine, Linda is notified of a caller -- Mr. Michaels. She rushes into his arms, anxious to relay the events of the day. He brushes her off and asks if she has made a decision concerning her career and their relationship.

Lucky for us, Linda chooses nursing. Her friends comfort her, but she insists they not make a big deal over it. After all, they have tomorrow to think about.

Most romance stories involving a tough decision such as Linda's don't have this ending. They usually end with the girl giving up her career for her man. It is this spin that sets Night Nurse #1 apart from other romance tales and sets the stage for the rest of the dynamic series. Though the ending is somewhat of an aberration from other romance stories, it has many of the other elements of classic romance stories. In my opinion, it is one of the best comic book romance stories out there! This isn't even taking into consideration Mortimer's art which so expertly depicts the three very different student nurses, and effortlessly moves the story along. If you liked this first issue, be sure to tune in soon for the second installment of Marvel's Night Nurse!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Selling Romance - Crazy Contraptions!

Advertisements in romance comics for diet aids and wigs are a dime a dozen -- and really, how many hairpieces does one girl need? Take a look below for truly useful products straight out of Girls' Romances #104 (October 1964)!

  • First we have the "Inflate-a-Form Sweater Dryer." No more unsightly shoulder humps on your sweaters!
  • Next up is the "Kurley Kut." This razorblade-on-a-stick is safe even for children!
  • Don't forget the importance of lingerie clips for yourself or your sweetie. No more pretending to massage your neck while readjusting those slipping bra straps!
  • The "De Fuzz It" is the perfect gift for the girl who has everything. It is scientifically designed for goodness sake!
  • Compact-Style Photo Album doubles as a cigarette case -- simply remove the accordion folded acetate windows!
  • If you have always wanted to hook your vacuum's exhaust hose up to your or your loved one's head, then this Hair Dryer Hood is just what you have been looking for! Good thing it is flame-proof!
  • This Shower Hood is incredibly handy both in the shower and in biohazardous situations. I wouldn't want to be caught anywhere without it, quite frankly.
  • Last but not least, we have an Exercise Stretcher. This flab trimmer is best used in conjunction with the Hair Dryer Hood. If you have to sit for 15-30 minutes to let your hair dry, you might as well stretch your hamstrings!

The holidays are just around the corner -- what are you getting for your loved one? Perhaps one of these crazy contraptions?!

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. America?"

Here it is, folks -- the backlash! In Young Love #95 (May 1972) DC's editorial staff (Dorothy Woolfolk for this one) made the following announcement:

I love it! Letters telling Marc to shove it! How very democratic! We have everything from "I'll bet your feet smell" to "I'll find some way to SUE you for slander!" Bet you didn't think things got this heated in the letter columns of romance books! See for yourself!

On the flipside though, there were a few readers who "REALLY LIKE MARC!" Their sentiments range from the simple "I'm against Women's Lib" to an outspoken young lady who didn't want to be a "liberated, bra-less, unmarried crackpot!"

So there it is! The female reaction to Marc and his advice! I actually find the last little remark by the editors rather telling. In it they write, "Do you understand what the Women's Movement is? Would you like us to print more letters and articles about it?" It seems as if they were using the character of Marc to work in the concepts of the Women's Movement and gauge reader interest. Pretty smooth!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fashion Files - The Space Age!

Ahoy, fellow 21st century space travelers! When blasting off into orbit (AKA the dating scene) it is important to look ones best.

If you are uncomfortable wearing ruffles, chains, midriffs or silk shorts ensembles however, then perhaps the future is not for you!

But if those styles do float your boat (or moon rover) then perhaps you should take a look at the Pucci-inspired fashions highlighted by Jay Scott Pike in Secret Hearts #143 (April 1970). They're outta sight!

Beware the lurking astronauts!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Mis-Adventures of Penelope Potter

Happy belated Turkey Day everyone! Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Thanksgiving related romance stories from the '60s and '70s. Perhaps the publishers figured it would contradict all the dieting advice! :)

Anyhow, I am always on the lookout for recurring characters in the romance stories, and I have found another series of one-pagers -- "The Mis-Adventures of Penelope Potter." These two are from Young Love #80 (May/June 1970), but the Mis-Adventures of Miss Potter are also chronicled in a few issues of Secret Hearts.

"The Rival"

"Caught, At Last"

The premise of the stories are simple. Essentially Penelope jumps to conclusions over things, which are sometimes warranted and sometimes not. Either way, she ends up asking for Guy's forgiveness and admits that she feels like a fool. Notice the Cockney accents and the fact that Penelope prefers magenta and Guy, green plaid. I sure 'ope you enjoyed 'ese stories!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DC's Pity Party

Influenced by the struggles of other groups fighting for Civil Rights, the Disability Rights Movement gathered steam and momentum in the late 1960s and early '70s. During this time, DC made efforts to be socially "with it" and began to feature stories of the Women's and Student Movements as well as African-American characters. It was also during this time that DC published numerous stories with wheelchair-bound characters.

DIAGNOSIS: Paralysis from car accident

"Don't Pity Me -- Love Me!"
Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Cover pencils by Ric Estrada, inks by Vince Colletta

DIAGNOSIS: Broken leg due to falling of porch

"Love, Love Go Away... Come Again Another Day"
Falling in Love #120 (January 1971)
Cover pencils and inks by Nick Cardy

DIAGNOSIS: Knee injury as a result of a football accident
(yes, even guys can be pitied)

"Too Much Loving... Too Many Tears!"
Girls' Romances #150 (July 1970)
Cover pencils by Nick Cardy, inks by Vince Colletta

DIAGNOSIS: Hit by a car while trying to catch up with two-timing Paul

"Pity Her -- But Love Me!"
Love Stories #147 (November 1972)

The word "pity" seems to be the signifier of a character in a wheelchair. In the world of DC romance, pity and wheelchairs go hand-in-hand. In these stories, none of the characters are permanently disabled or in a wheelchair due to congenital disorders or childhood illnesses. All are results of recent accidents, are temporary, and are overcome within the course of the story.

I have yet to come across any wheelchair-bound characters in the Marvel or Charlton romance comics, but I am sure they are out there somewhere!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Kid on the Block!

Romance comic book lovers! There is a new romance blog out there that you should check out called Out of This World. In the short time it has been up, it has featured the stories of DC's Mary Robin, RN from Young Love, Charlton's free-spirited Jonnie L♥ve and some other fine examples of romantic goodness. Check it out -- I have a feeling there will be lots of more good stuff to come!

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few hours of the weekend! I know I am!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?

It is not that unusual for the stories in romance comics to adhere to the old adage, "you can't have it all." Sometimes, the stories have stellar art with so-so plots, and sometimes it is the story that shines, accompanied by mediocre art. Lucky for us, with "Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?" from Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969) we can have it all! In the market for a highly satisfying story with delicious art by the legendary Ric Estrada? Continue reading!

The star of our story, Felice is a well... um, how do I put this nicely? A gold digger. After turning down a date invite by her perfectly handsome office mate, Dick -- Felice recounts to her other co-worker, Myrna that her goals include finding herself a rich guy and not wasting her time on a "poor dum-dum" like Dick.

Felice is a pro-active kind of lady. Instead of waiting for a man of the wealthy class to find her, she decides to go scoop one up herself at the Lakeside Resort for millionaires. Felice realizes getting a millionaire at the resort will take spending a small fortune in itself, and has already saved the necessary funds for the vacation by skipping meals and going to movies only when asked to on a date. To demonstrate her scrimping prowess to Myrna, Felice asks Dick to lunch and manages to coax him into buying her a gift.

Lunch turns into dinner, and poor smitten Dick tries to convince Felice they should give it a shot. Instead of keeping an open mind -- Felice proclaims, "I'm not marrying anyone who can't support me in a manner to which I'm definitely not accustomed."

Seeing he can't change her mind, Dick says goodbye to Felice and she departs for her vacation. Felice quickly forms an ally on the beach who points her in the direction of a multi-millionaire with the largest mansion on the lake -- Peter Mason.

Felice tries to be patient while waiting to spot the elusive Peter Mason, and almost has her attention diverted for a moment. But alas! Only a lowly waiter beckons! Finally though, she spots Peter's speedboat and makes her way over to introduce herself.

A whirlwind romance ensues, and Felice feels the bliss. She visits Peter's mansion, eats delectable dinners cooked by the millionaire himself, spends afternoons in the pool with him and rides in his fancy sports car.

And then, tragedy strikes! The man Felice has fallen for is not Peter Mason at all, but Larry -- one of Mr. Mason's caretakers!

After being lied to, Felice (understandably) looses her cool. What ensues next only proves the other old adage is true, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned who is armed with a bowl of spaghetti marinara."

Possibly the best use of Plop in the history of comic books

The next morning, Felice heads home on the train and thinks about the events that transpired. She realizes that next time she will be sure she knows who the guy really is before taking it too far. This epiphany hits Felice hard, and she wisely conjectures that "being able to spot the real thing is half the game!" Unfortunately, her realization is much too little, too late. Upon her return to work, the real thing (charming and handsome Dick) has passed her by for the sweet Myrna, and he turns out to be the boss's son to boot!

Karma -- it will get you every time!

Well, there you have it folks! A story that not only portrays a character that gets what she deserves, but has the art chops to back it up! In my opinion, this is one of those stories that will make it hard for you to choose between art and stories in the current poll. No need to choose with this one though. Just enjoy it all!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can This Romance be Saved?

Occasionally, the romance comics would run contests. Sometimes they were for poetry or recipes. In this instance, "Can This Romance be Saved," was designed to have readers decide a couple's romantic fate.

The following plight of Bruce and Lisa appeared in Girls' Love Stories #169 (May 1972). Chronicling the problem through the eyes of both parties involved, the readers were then asked to put on their "thinking caps," and write in with advice for the desperate couple.

What do you think? Should Bruce and Lisa have broken up or taken the plunge and gotten married? And oh yeah, first place answer is worth $10! Ok, just kidding on that! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marvel House Ad + Comic Book Store Adventures!

This lovely little Marvel house ad from My Love #2 (November 1969) advertising Our Love Story, serves as a reminder of the days when pre-teen girls had a plethora of titles to choose from when it came to selecting a comic book to read. Although there are some really great all ages, fun-for-all comics out there currently, it seems that many comic books geared towards females today are for the older teenage and young adult set.

Yesterday I had the day off of work and I of course hit up the nearest comic book store while out running errands. I witnessed something that made me smile for the rest of the day. Two mothers brought their two little girls into the store who were about eight years old or so. The little ones proceeded to dig through the long boxes full of Archie's and other assorted funny animal and humor comics. After picking out about four comics each, they excitedly brought their selections up to the counter and proceeded to pay with their own money that they anxiously dug out of their Hannah Montana purses.

This story may not seem like such a big deal to some, but I work in an industry (museums) that frequently asserts that "people just don't read anymore." I have never bought this silly unfounded argument, so seeing these little girls buying comic books helped to restore my faith in humanity! Ok, maybe it wasn't that dramatic -- but it sure was cute!

I know this story is a tad off topic from romance comics, but I just had to share!!! Thanks for humoring me!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Page Peterson's Do's and Dont's of Dating

The advice columns of romance comics were entertaining in their own right, but when illustrated sequentially they became a real treat. While Young Love had the nasty Marc as its patron saint of advice, Young Romance had a more likeable character -- Page Peterson and her "Do's and Dont's of Dating." As you will see in this episode from Young Romance #172 (June/July 1971), Page dishes out no-nonsense etiquette-type advice on the art of courtship.

From what I can tell, Page Peterson is the only regularly reoccurring non-white character in the romance comics of the 1960s and '70s. Her illustrated advice column appeared in no less than fourteen semi-consecutive issues of Young Romance. While there were not a whole lot of ethnically diverse characters in the romance comics, Page's presence demonstrates that the socially relevant issue of diversity was at least on DC's radar.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poll Result Time!

Good evening everyone! I hope you are having a great weekend! The last poll ended and here are the results as to what you the Sequential Crush readers would like to see more of!
  • Chronicles of recurrent characters garnered eight votes for the win!
  • Issue reviews, individual story reviews, and socio-historical themes each had six votes a piece.
  • Advertisements and fashion features were the least desired, both with two votes.
Thank you to all those that voted. This will help me continue to deliver all the romantic goodness you have come to expect from Sequential Crush! If you didn't have a chance to vote, feel free to put your wishes in the comment section of this post. Also, check out the new poll!!!

Stay groovy! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sequential Elizabeth Story

While perusing for something else this evening I came across this short sequential story, "Kiss Me Only in My Dreams!" from Girls' Love Stories #149 (February 1970) by the talented Elizabeth Berube. Last week when I made my initial post on Elizabeth, I was only aware of one sequential story -- so this one makes two! Pretty exquisite, huh?!

Though I love the line work and the decorative quality about the story, the coloring is what really makes it stand out for me. Those almost fluorescent colors against the black really pop out. Since Elizabeth colored many DC stories later on, it makes me wonder if she colored her own romance stories?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

There is no doubt that this gorgeously drawn one-page story, "Uptight" from Young Romance #166 (June/July 1970) by Black Cat artist Lee Elias, is a great example of the diversity of artists featured in the romance comics. Unfortunately, it is also a good example of the kind of story that helps propel today's notion that romance comics are filled with worthless drivel deserving of a few laughs and nothing more.

On one hand, this story serves as a handy historical document and a reminder of how far our notions of women in the workforce have come. The same year this story was published in Young Romance, a very important stride concerning equal pay for male and female workers was made with the case of Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co. Though legally this cased helped to solidify the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it is obvious from this story that not all facets of society had embraced the concept of the career-driven woman.

On the other hand though, I myself as a woman who is actively pursuing a career, can sympathize with the obvious internal conflict felt by our protagonist, Carol Loring. Balancing a career, and the ever-present cultural and biological pressures to "have it all" are something I think that many young women still feel today.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

In honor of the holiday, this morning I decided to read my first Gothic romance comic. I bought a couple over the summer, and have been saving reading them for the perfect time. I started with Charlton's Haunted Love #1 (April 1973) simply because the cover by Tom Sutton is really gorgeous.

The two sequential interior stories were alright, one called "Eternal Teacher," and the other, "A Kiss to Save Him from the Grave." The former had an O. Henry ending and the latter was very confusing overall -- in fact, I am not sure it completely made sense!

The genre of Gothic romance comics didn't last long. The first two appeared from DC in 1971, Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and Sinister House of Secret Love. Both ran for four issues each, before undergoing title changes to assimilate more with mainstream horror comics of the '70s. Haunted Love lasted slightly longer, from 1973 to 1975, with eleven issues. For a more in depth discussion on these Gothic tales, check out Irene Vartanoff's blog entry on them. In the meantime, have a happy and safe Halloween!!!