Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guy's Point of View Week - Return to My Heart!

Welcome to the first full story of "Guy's Point of View Week" here at Sequential Crush! "Return to My Heart!" originally appeared in Falling in Love #51 (June 1962). The reprint version (below) was published in Young Love #70 (September/October 1968).

"Return to My Heart!" is a story of a forbidden love -- between teacher and student. While not an entirely unusual storyline in romance comics, this one is different because it is told from the perspective of the male teacher and not the female student.

Mr. Forrest, a handsome English teacher is smitten with senior student, Celia Ames. He deals with his interest in her by trying to avoid her at all costs outside of the classroom...

...and inside the classroom, by reprimanding her. When ultimately confronted by Celia about his apparent dislike for her, he keeps his feelings for her inside; brushing his harshness off as a method of classroom control.

Mr. Forrest is not only the English teacher, but the drama coach as well. During practice one afternoon, Mr. Forrest does the unthinkable. He steps in for leading man -- Johnny, and shows him how the scene ought to be played. The rest of the class erupts in applause after the passionate kiss between Mr. Forrest and Celia. In return for their enthusiasm, the embarrassed Mr. Forrest gruffly demands that everyone memorizes their lines perfectly by the following Monday.

Following their very public kiss, the rest of the term flies by for Mr. Forrest. The end of the school year brings a graduation dance and Mr. Forrest is asked to be a chaperone. His evening of being an observer seems to going well until he catches a glimpse of Celia dancing with Johnny. His eyes lock with Celia's. She makes her way over to Mr. Forrest and asks him to dance with her since she will be leaving for college soon and won't see him again. Mr. Forrest hides his feelings for her and tells her to keep dancing with Johnny. With imagery so akin to the ladies of romance comics, Mr. Forrest lies awake night after night, thinking of his former pupil.

And here you thought only
the girls cried themselves to sleep!

Time goes on (as it tends to do) and after the passing of four years, Mr. Forrest decides to give it another shot at being a graduation dance chaperone. Suddenly, a tender gloved hand reaches out and it is no other than Celia, requesting a dance once again. This time, Mr. Forrest gives in and love washes over the happy (and age-appropriate) couple.

Though the script on this story sounds very similar to stories that are narrated from female character's perspectives, I think it is still pretty interesting reading a story from a male character's point of view. What do you think? Do you like the male perspective in the romance comics or do you prefer the more traditional female narrator?

Be sure to tune in the rest of the week for more examples of the
"guy's point of view" here on Sequential Crush!!!


  1. This is interesting -- there's something off-putting about this story beyond the obvious taboo of a teacher/student relationship, though the fact that he kissed her is astonishing enough, and that's sort of a tripping point when it comes to celebrating their future happiness. If a teacher kissed any daughter of mine...

    In the broader sense, though, there's something, I don't know, predatory I guess would be the word, about having one of these stories told from the man's side (where's Marc?) It's one thing when it's a lovesick young damsel with these thoughts, another when it's a man in a position of authority over said damsel.

    I'm curious now to see how the other examples play out.

  2. Wow, is the teach one sensative guy. The panel of the guy having just flung himself onto the bed for a good cry is downright unsettling. Jeez, somebody get this guy a tissue.

  3. I enjoyed this story and had no problem whatsoever with the "taboo" element, or perhaps it slightly enhanced my enjoyment. Would like to also see the same story with genders reversed.


  4. Hey all! The story is pretty "taboo" by today's standards, but romance is fantasy in a way -- and the situation is most definitely fantasy played out.

    I have read a similar Charlton story (which I will have to post sometime) but it was explained that the girl had been ill and held back many years, making her much older than her classmates.

    It is funny how although most of the romance stories were written by men and seem totally okay when voiced from the woman's perspective -- they suddenly become a tad creepy when from the male perspective. I still haven't totally figured it out.

    I do have to say though, out of the rest of the examples I have this week, this story is the only one where the male is older and in an authority position. The others are peer to peer romance.

  5. It's funny, because I was going to say that presenting it from the guy's point of view lowers the "ick" factor as we see that he's really interested in the girl and not just some sleazeball predator.

    It does strain credulity though that she comes back to that dance four years later.

  6. I think it's great to see the male's POV in a romance. The ending is a little cliche but it makes his years of yearning seem less creepy.

  7. Pat: True, it does help that he really was interested in her and not just the idea of her. If only comic book stories were longer! We could find out why she came back...

    Anne: It is pretty cool. I don't really read romance novels, but I am going to guess that they are usually written from the female POV -- making these pretty unique.

  8. Thanks for posting, Jacque! The teacher does seem very... girly, especially when he flings himself down on his bed to sob. Um, really, guys? Maybe they thought this was what twelve-year-olds thought was romantic. God knows, my twelve year old heart thrilled to the unrequited love of dreamy-yet-sensitive English teacher Roger Collins for French Nora Dalton in "Sweet Valley High: Perfect Summer." (Yeah, I know-- I had no taste.)

    In fact, this dude actually reminds me a lot of Roger Collins. I'm not sure if I should swoon or be creeped out... I'm so confused!

  9. Suburbanbeatnik: That sobbing scene is too much -- I love it though! I was a Babysitter's Club fan, not so much Sweet Valley High. I wouldn't doubt it though if there were quite a few similar stories between SVH and romance comics!

  10. I'm sure there was. I bet if I'd grown up in the 60s or 70s, I would have been reading romance comics.

    By the way, Sweet Valley High "dreamy English teacher" Roger Collins was supposed to be a dead-ringer for Robert Redford. Good lord, those books were really dated, even for the mid 1980s.

  11. I totally would have read them too, Suburbanbeatnik! I think I would have liked them better than magazines like Seventeen, etc.

  12. I don't know how Jacque found this out, but she just tweeted that Joanne Renaud's "A Question of Time" (see ) continues on from her musing "If only comic book stories were longer!" in response to Pat's post. How cool is that?