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!!!


  1. I was JUST looking for an excuse to mention something I spotted today on Wikipedia. Supposedly there is going to be a Showcase Presents volume of SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE/SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE next February. Not crazy about B&W reprints of color material, but as some of those issues go for a pretty penny...


  2. Jacque: what a stunning cover. Have you ever considered scanning in the stories? After reading your post, I was very eager to read it. Just a thought. You have a great blog any way you cut it. -- Mykal

  3. Marshall! Thanks for the update! It will be interesting to see that when it comes out. I don't really like the black and white versions either, but they are handy when you would like to read the stories. And so we wait for February...

    Thanks, Mykal! I am enjoying exploring your blogs as well! I usually try to scan at least a little bit of the interior stories, but with yesterday's festivities I didn't get a chance. Unfortunately on this book the cover was far superior to the interior art. Eventually I hope to get around to doing some more posts on Gothic Romance and maybe I will go back to this one...

  4. That is a nice cover by Tom Sutton, who did a ton of work for Charlton and specialized in the spooky stuff.

    Nick C.

  5. As nice as the cover is, I think Sutton's interior art on this one outdoes it. I'd say nothing fired him up more than drawing crumbling mansions overrun by oppressive vegetation. It's all in the details.

    Not to be contrary, but I think Irene misses the point in dismissing this cover's topic as "not attractive". I mean, gothic romance tends to be so very formulaic in its approach that I, for one, welcome the sight of an instance of "Ugh!" instead of "Mmm". But then I'm just a man. On the other hand, I read romance comics without shame (because there's no shame in it, of course!). That's got to count for something. ;)

    Haunted Love took a few issues to take full flight, imho. The first issue certainly isn't examplary. Nick Cuti always tried to hard to surprise, and too often ended up being predictable. Such are the limitations of the O. Henry ending.

    I haven't gotten my hands on the (for me) elusive issue 3, but pretty much any issue, other than 2 and 11, are much better than this one.

    If there's case to be made for the comics code authority being pretty slack at this time, the publication of issue 4's "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" is evidence of it. It's a sweet story in its way, but stop and ask yourself "What's the moral here?", and you may know what I mean.

    Superb Sutton and Newton covers, some of Enrique Nieto's most inspired work...I have to say I'm very fond of this title, not to mention that it served as my gateway to romance comics, and we all know there's no turning back. ;)

  6. I hope to collect the whole series eventually, Richard, to get a better feel for not only the title itself, but the artists involved. I have this one, #6 and #9 -- both of which I haven't looked at yet. I feel better about venturing into them now though, knowing that they are pretty good!

  7. Love the art, but I can see Irene's point about how they needed to put some hunks on the cover. That guy isn't about to give Fabio any competition!

  8. 1st visit here... I voted 'stories' in your poll, but really love romance genre comics for both story & ART. One can sometimes 'save' the other. The entire Haunted Love series rocks, and the late great Tom Sutton has art in each issue, methinks. You can probably pick up a complete run on eBay pretty cheap, as I just sold a complete set back in January for about 15 bucks. Keep up the great BLAH-gh !

  9. Thanks for reading, Lysdexicuss! It is really hard to choose stories or art, but I thought it would be kind of interesting to see the results.

    Shoot! Too bad I missed your sale on Ebay! I will have to just pick them up where I can!