Monday, September 27, 2010

Guy's Point of View Week - Two Loves Have I!

I have really enjoyed putting together posts for the first theme week here at Sequential Crush, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them! I have one more story from the "guy's point of view" to share with you, and it's a good one!

"Two Loves Have I!" from Heart Throbs #125 (April/May 1970) drawn by Lee Elias, is a sort of romance comic book version of the Madame Butterfly/Miss Saigon story narrated by a love hungry American G.I., aptly named Joe.

Joe is an artillery spotter who has been placed on duty with another soldier in the home of a local Vietnamese family. The family's young and beautiful daughter -- Liu, helps the soldiers get their gear in order and their radios set up in the house. Joe immediately takes a liking to Liu, despite the fact he has a fiancée back at home in the United States.

Joe doesn't forget about Ruth and their future together, but Liu's presence and sweet demeanor help to pass the time.

Joe falls in love with Liu, but at the same time, cannot shake his love for his betrothed back home in the United States. One evening Joe stumbles upon Liu sewing a wedding gown and retreats in shock.

Having no clue about her lover's previous engagement, Liu is over the moon about becoming Mrs. G.I. Joe. Joe explains the situation to his mistress, and she is naturally hurt. Before Joe can explain further, members of the Viet Cong approach the civilian home, looking to rid it of American troops. During the attack, Liu and Joe become separated and Joe is rendered unconscious.

Next thing Joe knows, he is laid up in a military hospital recovering from his injuries -- unaware of Liu's whereabouts. A few weeks pass and Joe returns to duty. He tells his Lieutenant about his unfortunate last encounter with Liu, and begs to have a pass so that he can try to make amends with her. The Lieutenant breaks the sorrowful news to Joe -- Liu perished in the attack, saving Joe's life in the process.

My goodness!
What a tragic ending for this unique
and beautifully illustrated romance story!

Hopefully you have enjoyed these stories from the "guy's point of view" and I hope to find many more to share with you in the future!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guy's Point of View Week - Marvel's "The Game of Triangles!"

"The Game of Triangles!"
Our Love Story #20 (December 1972)
Cover art by Alan Weiss (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks)
Story penciled by George Tuska and inked by Paul Reinman
Story written by Joy Hartle

So far, all of the examples here at Sequential Crush of romance stories told from the male perspective have been from DC. Not to fear romance fans! Marvel got in on it too! One such story "The Game of Triangles!" from Our Love Story #20 (December 1972) warns against falling in love with two ladies simultaneously.

"It's not easy for a guy to tell this kind of story..."

Dick has been going steady with blonde beauty Carol, but when he meets spontaneous Tracy -- he is completely smitten. Tracy not only has a wild side and is beautiful, but she is filthy rich to top it off. Well, her dad is anyhow! Not long after they meet, Dick is introduced to Tracy's father who assures Dick that if he is the right man for his daughter, he stands to inherit a lot of money.

Dick finds himself in quite a predicament -- steady, loyal, and loving Carol or moneybags Tracy?

Dick remembers all the good times he had with Carol and agonizes over staying with her or dumping her for his new found sugar mama. Meanwhile, Tracy is up to no good herself.

When Tracy runs into Carol and Dick at a party, she becomes miffed at the fact that she has competition. She demands that Dick come over to her house and explain. With an intense kiss, Dick proclaims that he has only been "fooling around" with Carol. Not satisfied with his word, Tracy calls Carol and tells her that she is with Dick. Wanting to see for herself, Carol goes to the dance that Dick and Tracy are attending. Carol sees them together and with a broken heart, runs off into the night -- never to be seen again.

Thinking he has caused Carol's death, Dick stays in his house mourning. Tracy continues to live it up in secret with her scruffy lover, Doug. In a moment of privacy (or so they think) Tracy and Doug celebrate their impending scam -- with disastrous results.

Immediately after busting his daughter, Tracy's father receives a phone call from Dick. Dick is told by Tracy's father of her scheme and how she had been dating Doug all along. Just as Dick goes to hang up the phone, none other than Carol walks through the door. Dick is shocked to say the least, but Carol explains what happened the night of her disappearance. Distraught, she merely ran away. It just so happened that her car was stolen that night and thrown in the river -- making it look as if she had committed suicide. With a kiss of ultimate relief, Dick tells Carol how very sorry he is. The story ends with a warning...

"When you go for more than one heart at a time...
the heart you break may be your own..."

Very wise advice -- and all from a male character's perspective! Have a great Saturday, and I will be back with one more story to round out "guy's point of view" week!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Guy's Point of View Week - A Vietnam War Era Romance Story

Romance stories from the
"guy's point of view"

Love triangles were certainly not uncommon in romance comics, but Vietnam War centered love triangle were a little more rare. "I Lived a Lie!" appeared in Girls' Romances #150 (July 1970) and tells a tale woven with bits of secrets, lies, and desertion.

Published not long after the public was made aware of the My Lai Massacre and the horrific shootings at Kent State, "I Lived a Lie!" (penciled by Werner Roth and inked by Vince Colletta) opens with two young men (Steve and Roy) who have just been drafted.

Having been in a relationship with the beautiful Julie since high school, Steve wants to move their wedding day up so that they can walk down the aisle before he and Roy are shipped out. Julie is hesitant, and Roy is devastated -- Steve hasn't been the only one in love with Julie since high school.

While Roy waits out on the porch, Julie and Steve discuss their future together. Julie drops the bomb, and tells Steve she will not marry him -- at least not until he returns from the army. Steve is disappointed and as he and Roy drive away from Julie's house, Steve confides in Roy, "I wish I'd asked her to marry me a year ago! Maybe we'd have had a kid by now and I'd have beat the draft!" Roy is perturbed by Steve's attitude towards their impending service and accuses Steve of merely trying to use Julie to beat the draft. Steve assures Roy that he really does love Julie for the right reasons, despite his off-the-cuff rant.

Steve continues to pursue marriage with Julie, and each time she resists. Just as the guys are about to head out for basic training, Julie has a change of heart and proposes an impromptu marriage.

Soon after basic training, Steve and Roy find themselves in Vietnam. During their down time, Steve reads the letters sent to him by his bride to the heartsick Roy. Eventually, the soldiers are ordered to ship out to Hue to act as reinforcements. Just as they are leaving, Steve tries to tell Roy something.

Roy never gets to hear what Steve had to tell him, as they were ambushed and Steve disappears. Roy is hit by mortar and sent back stateside, where he is met by Julie. Roy tells Julie that Steve was classified as MIA, but she is doubtful. Roy eventually tells Julie that Steve was killed by a land mine and promptly begins dating her.

Julie however, is not ready for the intense relationship that Roy wants. Though she continues to date him, she tells him that she will always love Steve. One evening Roy goes to Julie's house and is met at the door by Julie who is holding a newspaper in shock. She has just read an article declaring that Steve was in fact a deserter -- a fact that Roy knew the whole time.

Julie tells Roy she never wants to see him again for the lie he told her. Heartbroken and ashamed, the vet moves into a lonely boarding house far from Julie and his hometown. A couple of months later, Julie tracks Roy down and tells him she is over Steve and that she realizes Roy was just trying to spare her pain. Consequently, she has had her marriage annulled and is free to be with Roy completely.

An interesting romance story, with strong characters, "I Lived a Lie!" is not only beautiful to look at, but a great historical document as well. For example, when Julie announces the fact that Steve deserted to Sweden, it may seem at first glance like a random bit of comic book dialogue. But when you take into consideration that during the Vietnam War, Sweden was a safe haven for draft dodgers and deserters, the romance story suddenly becomes a little time capsule of the tumultuous era. And all told from a male character's view to boot!

For a very similar story (but one that includes a baby and no desertion) be sure to check out a review of "Second Choice!" that appeared in Heart Throbs #121 (August/September 1969) at the blog, As Told to Stan Lee.

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!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Not Just for the Ladies!

One of the things I have always found fascinating about romance comics is that they were designed to be consumed by a female audience and were almost always presented from the perspective of young women -- and yet for the most part, the creative process was carried out by men.

With the exception of columnists Marc and Paul, romance comic stories and featurettes were primarily told from the point of view of the female characters and presented the hottest fashions, advice and trends for young women.

Not this week!

Today marks the start of the first theme week at Sequential Crush, and as you may have guessed by now, the next few days will be all about romance from the "Guy's Point of View!" So sit back, enjoy, and let's get things started with the second page of "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from Girls' Romances #145 depicting the most handsome fashions of December 1969!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Charlton Version of Mad Mad Modes for Moderns

In lieu of a Mad Mad Modes for Moderns piece, I have for you a Charlton doppelganger -- "Mini-Midi-Maxi" extolling the virtues of varied skirt lengths.

I especially dig the Star Trek
inspired mini!

Written in much the same style as one of the DC fashion featurettes, this Charlton fashion spread from Romantic Story #99 (March 1969) is a rare treat -- even if it does alliteratively mimic its competitor!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Collection of One-Pagers

Not all stories in romance comics were full length. Below are seven one-page stories from both DC and Charlton romance titles. What they lack in breadth, they sure make up in charm!

"A Kiss in Time"
Pencils and inks by Charles Nicholas

Just Married #67
(October 1969)

Done in this divergent style, Henry Boltinoff (of Super-Turtle fame) shows romance readers the elusive male perspective.

"Teen Fables"
Script, pencils and inks by
Henry Boltinoff
Girls' Romances #155
(March 1971)

One-pagers weren't all done for the gag. Some were quick and simple ways to convey romantic norms and expectations.

"Days to Remember"
Pencils by Charles Nicholas
Inks by Vincent Alascia
Just Married #93
(March 1973)

Some, such as "Pen Pal!" were effective because of their clever punchline.

"Pen Pal!"
As rendered by Art Cappello
Just Married #100
(May 1974)

The two following one-pagers from DC (from titles Young Romance and Young Love, respectively) are some of the last the company would publish in the disappearing genre of romance.

"The Movie!"
Young Romance #205
(May/June 1975)

Pencils by Mike Sekowsky
Inks by Dick Giordano
Young Love #121
(October 1976)

"Shadow from the Past" is by an artist you don't normally see associated with romance comics -- Mike Vosburg. Vosburg was the artist who drew the majority of the covers that appeared at the beginning of the television show, Tales from the Crypt. By the time this one-pager was published in 1979, romance comics had all but vanished.

"Shadow from the Past"
Pencils and inks by Mike Vosburg
I Love You #127
(December 1979)

I hope you enjoyed these one-pagers!
Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Artist Spotlight - Art Saaf

Having grown up in a comic book family, I am always interested to hear the stories of other people who have had family in the industry. One such person I have been fortunate to converse with is Steve Saaf, the son of the incredibly talented romance artist -- Art Saaf. Among other things, Steve has put together a highly informative website --, about his father. The site features a bio (my abbreviated version below), detailed indexes and galleries.

Art Saaf
Romance comic book artist extraordinaire!

Art Saaf was born in Brooklyn on December 4th, 1921 to parents of Czech and Swedish ancestry. Like many artists, his interest in drawing developed early, and his talents were nurtured at P.S. 26. Art made his way as a young man during the Great Depression by working as a messenger on Wall Street and by proof-reading bonds for the American Bank Note Company. He began his art career by freelancing for McFadden Publishing in the late 1930s, and started his formal training soon after at the Pratt Institute -- which he attended from January 1941 through April 1942. Art refined his technique at both the School of Arts and Mechanics and the Art Students League.

During World War II, Art worked for various studios honing his illustrative work as well as freelancing. After the war, he did work for Timely and Dell, and took on full-time work for Standard Comics in 1946. In the mid-1950s, Art began a career in the blossoming television industry as an art director on storyboards for such programs as The Jackie Gleason Show. In the late '50s, Art could be found freelancing as a storyboard artist -- primarily for television advertisements.

Art returned to comics in the late 1960s and was assigned by DC to work his magic on war, horror and superhero titles, and of course -- romance comic books! His artwork can be seen in issues of most every DC romance title of the late '60s/early '70s, and it sure is lovely!

Cover pencils by Saaf, inks by Dick Giordano
Girls' Love Stories #160
(July 1971)

Steve Saaf has done a really thorough job of tracking down the stories his father worked on and identifying his artwork -- much to the benefit of us all! During an email conversation, Steve told me he became engrossed in identifying his father's work when Art began coping with the effects of Parkinson's disease. After years of distance, the two reconnected and Steve instantly delved into learning more about his father's career.

"Too Old for Love!"
Penciled by Saaf and inked by Colletta
Falling in Love #122 (April 1971)

Creating the indexes identifying his father's comic work was what Steve described to me as a "step-by-step hunt for everything he did." Since Steve was relatively new to the comic book world, he sought out field experts such as Michelle Nolan to assist with the identification of Art's romance work. Steve learned to recognize his father's style and purchased comic books for reference. Steve's identifications were also aided by the fact that he had not only pages of original art by his father to go off of, but many of Art's financial records and invoices from his comic book days as well.

Below are various examples of Art Saaf's later DC romance work, inked by a variety of artists. Personally, I am most drawn to the Saaf pencils accompanied by Colletta inks.

"A Little Kiss for Big Sister!"
Penciled by Saaf, inker unknown
Young Love #84 (January/February 1971)

"I Gave My Love Away"
Penciled by Saaf, inked by Colletta
Falling in Love #121 (February 1971)

"...he should be known for what he achieved and his artistry. He didn't work on all the top hero characters (maybe that's why he isn't known), but with his skills he could have!"
-Steve Saaf

"You're Not My Type... Mr. Winslow!"
Penciled and inked by Saaf
Heart Throbs #129
(December/January 1971)

"Sweet... and Simple!"
Pencils by Saaf and inked by Vince Colletta
Girls' Love Stories #159 (May 1971)

"Too Clumsy to Love"
Penciled by Saaf and inked by Mike Esposito
Girls' Love Stories #168 (April 1972)

Steve disclosed that his main motivation for going through the painstaking process of identifying his father's work was that it "was not recognized" and in his opinion (and many others), he could "keep up with 'acclaimed' best of his contemporaries." I wholeheartedly concur!

I am really grateful and truly inspired by Steve's diligence in preserving his father's legacy. Steve's experiences serve as an excellent reminder of the importance of gathering the stories of comic book creators before those pieces of information become distant memories or worse yet, lost altogether.