Thursday, July 9, 2009

Risqué Romance

While reading Girls' Romances #101 (June 1964) today, I came across a part in the last story, "Come Back My Heart!" that had me scratching my head. The story, illustrated by Jay Scott Pike starts out not unlike other romance stories. Laura and Nancy are in love with the same guy, David. Laura is the lucky one who snatches him up, but when she moves to New York to pursue her acting dream, Nancy "befriends" David.

Cover pencils by Jay Scott Pike
Inked by someone with a love for dark, thick lines!

It starts out innocently enough -- trips to the library and the art museum, but quickly turns into smooching sessions in David's convertible. Thing is, David and Laura are still together! Nancy feels in her heart that David is spending time with her to fill the void from Laura's absence. Pretty scandalous, but wait! It gets even more so!

Did you read what I just read?! MAKING LOVE??? I wondered at first if I was reading that right, but yup! That's what it says! It seems a little risqué for 1964, but I am assuming that here it takes on a different meaning from what we understand the phrase to mean today.

According to this Dictionary of Sexual Terms and Expressions, "making love" prior to the 1950s was just another term for courting and flirting. Mid-century it started to take on a connotation of actual intercourse. Hmmm... so according to this interpretation, the romance comics were either behind on their lingo or on the forefront of sexual expression. I tend to think its the former, as this story was only published a decade after the implementation of the Code.

I have never come across the phrase in any other romance story I have read, but then again, I stick to the later romance. I think I will have to go on a hunt for some earlier romance issues to see if it creeps up anywhere else! I am going to look further into this and do some more research. Hopefully in the not-so-distant future I will have an update for you!


  1. "Making love" in this context definitely means "flirting". I suggest you check out some of the romance pulp magazines from the 1920-1950s, where the term pops up quite frequently in this context. Magazines such as Street & Smith's Love Story, All-Story Love, Romance, New Love Story, etc.

    In fact, I would further suggest that the romance comics you are writing about here were in large part influenced by the pulp romance magazines of the generation before.

    Keep up the blog! Fascinating stuff!

  2. Oh, wow. Hahaha. Whoa. That came out of nowhere.

  3. Thank you for the suggestions Madame Rogue! I will try to get my hands on some of the early romance pulps. There is no doubt that romance comics in general were influenced by the pulps, as were most other genres of comic books as well. Thanks for checking Sequential Crush out!

  4. Hi, referral from the Robot6 article.

    Just wanted to say for now that this is a cool blog, and I look forward to seeing further entries.

    This may be a romance comic stretch, but I dig Archie Comic's Katy Keene.

  5. Welcome to Sequential Crush, jdh417! I like Katy Keene too, and I think it could be considered somewhat of a romance, or a teen comic at least. I need to get more of those...

  6. ha! this clears things up... I downloaded a bunch of romance comics to read the past few days and they used the term in it too...I was like "woah!"