Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Romance - The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #4 (March/April 1972)

The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #4
(March/April 1972)
Cover by Nick Cardy

What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a tale from DC's Gothic romance series The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love? With a story by Dorothy Manning, pencils by Ernie Chan (credited as Ernesto Chua) and inks by Vince Colletta, "The Grey Lady of Coburn Manor" is just the right mix of spookiness and romance for a cold October night!

The story of the last issue of the cross-genre series begins with a young American couple drawn to the supposedly haunted Coburn Manor -- a place the local Brits fear and avoid at all costs due to the legendary "Grey Lady." Though the sprawling estate does intimidate Suzanne and Brian to an extent, their business interests for the Spelton Hotels takes top priority.

Suzanne and Brian settle in to their new surroundings and are served dinner by the broody butler -- Lionel, who is none too keen on their presence or their plans for the estate. During dinner they inquire about the owner of the house (Lord Wittlesey) who is absent, as well as the last representative of the hotel who mysteriously disappeared from Coburn Manor, never to be seen again. With day one of their exhausting and bizarre trip at an end, Suzanne and Brian engage in a little well deserved romance.

After the two part ways for their separate bedrooms, Suzanne begins to have frightful dreams of Lionel, but is awoken by footsteps creaking outside her door. In a panic, she begins to call for Brian who rushes to her side. Convinced she is being stalked by the Grey Lady, Brian takes Suzanne's hand and guides her through the mansion to show her there is nothing to fear. But he is wrong! Very wrong!

After her encounter with the Grey Lady, Suzanne is left feeling spooked, but carries on her work with Brian preparing the soon-to-be-hotel for the contractors. One afternoon, Suzanne and Brian invite a contingent of important people in the community over for tea to address concerns about the hotel. Lord Wittlesey and the local Vicar join them, as well as the president of the preservation society -- Lady Dunhill, who is most skeptical of what she feels will be a "neon-lit hot-dog haven for tired tourists." As Lady Dunhill continues to voice her aversion, the Vicar suddenly takes ill after having a sip of sherry served by Lionel. Everyone is most surprised when he drops dead right on the table.

After the Vicar's death, Suzanne wants to leave Coburn Manor and the Grey Lady behind. Brian convinces her to stay for at least another week, in hopes that they can uncover the mysteries of the "haunted" house. Suzanne agrees and tries to make a go of it, but is again given cause to worry when Lady Dunhill turns up murdered in the Manor's garden. At an inquest concerning the two sudden deaths, everyone from the gardener to Lord Wittlesey is suspect. Ultimately, the unproductive inquest is adjourned. Later that evening, the maid finds the Lordship having a stroke and everyone is put on house arrest while the house is guarded by the police. Suzanne is again convinced the Grey Lady is the culprit.

Brian decides to do a little detective work that evening and comes across a secret room. Inside the room he finds a jacket and watch that belonged to the former hotel employee who disappeared, and Lady Dunhill's ring. In the room Brian also finds a gigantic grey cloth and a pair of stilts, which he can only infer belongs to whoever is perpetrating the Grey Lady myth.

Locked in the mystery room, Brian escapes just in time to save Suzanne from a shadowy figure on the attack. A "furious battle" ensues and Brian and Lionel the butler take down the intruder, who is... get ready for it... the elusive Lord Wittlesey!

The Lord explains his wrath as a result of "bloody American swine" trying to buy their way into 700 years of nobility. Loyal Lionel, always protective of the manor is appalled as the Lord explains his justifications for faking his own stroke and killing the first hotel representative (George) and then the meddling Vicar and Lady Dunhill. After recovering George's body, the Lord is taken into police custody. Suzanne and Brian pack to leave in order to get married and take their honeymoon, but Brian assures Lionel that with the mystery of the Grey Lady solved, they will be back to Coburn Manor!

While you ponder the fate of Brian and Suzanne, I will leave you with "Through the Keyhole of the Dark Mansion" -- an advice/letters column exploring issues such as ESP and foreboding dreams!

Here's to wishing you a happy and
romance filled Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Romance - Love Potion

There is a crisp in the air, the leaves are falling from the trees, and I am addicted to candied apples! It must be Halloween time!!!

Besides the Gothic romance titles like The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and The Sinister House of Secret Love, there isn't much in the way of Halloween or scary stories in romance comics. However, I was able to dig up this little yarn -- "Love Potion" from Heart Throbs #137 (January 1972) concerning the dark arts!

"Love Potion" begins with one of the coolest splash pages around (dig that story title font!) and a scene from a play as performed by classmates Shirley and Walter. You see, Shirley really likes Walter, but the moment they are off stage, he turns cold. Shirley has tried everything to make Walter fall in love with her -- everything except witchcraft that is!

After much coaxing, Shirley decides to listen to her friend Rita -- practitioner of black magic. Having caved, the reluctant Shirley heads to a meeting with Rita's coven to try to put a love spell on Walter via his handkerchief.

I think I might go as Rita the Witch
for Halloween this year.

After the strange encounter, Shirley goes home to finish performing the rest of the "secret rites," in hopes that Walter will somehow be affected by the magic induced by the coven of teenage witches. Almost immediately after covering the telephone with Walter's handkerchief as instructed, the spell seems to work!

Understandably excited and on edge about the whole witchcraft thing, Shirley asks Walter what made him call her that very evening in the first place. As luck (or magic?) would have it, Walter was trying to expose the witchcraft groups for a story in the school newspaper and got so busy with gathering the scoop, that evening was the first chance he had to call her! What a spooky coincidence!

I hope you enjoyed this cute little Halloween-esque story and that you will be sure to join me later in the week for a look at an issue of DC's The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy United Nations Day!

Happy United Nations Day!

Young Love #85
(March/April 1971)
Cover by Tony DeZuniga

I have always loved this cover depicting a couple standing outside the United Nations building. How fitting it is for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the international organization! Is it just me, or does the young man in the background look quite a bit like President Obama?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Celebrate Frightful Frankenstein Friday with Frankenstein's Wife - A Love Story!?

Usually here at Sequential Crush I like to stay within the confines of 1960s and '70s romance, but sometimes going outside those boundaries is necessary... and fun! I present to you on this Frightful Frankenstein Friday, "Frankenstein's Wife" from the Prize title, Frankenstein Comics #1 (1945). Illustrated and scripted by Dick Briefer, this is the adorable story of the bachelor monster -- Frankenstein, who finds love and tranquility under the most unusual circumstances!

Romance comes in all shapes and sizes!
Sometimes, it even comes in the shape of a scarily-cute monster!

If you enjoyed this Frankenstein story, then you will enjoy Craig Yoe's newest collection of tales, Dick Briefer's Frankenstein -- available from Amazon!

Buy a copy for your sweetheart!
If you dare!!!

There are also lots of other comic book blogs of various genres that are also featuring Frankenstein stories today!
Be sure to check them out!

Join me back here next week for spooky gothic romance tales!
Just in time for Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Because You Demanded It! Too Smart to Love!

All right, folks! Here it is! The moment you all have been waiting for -- the winner of last week's post, Too (fill in the blank) to Love!

Sequential Crush proudly presents, "Too Smart to Love!" from Falling in Love #137 (October 1972). Penciled by Ric Estrada and inked by Vince Colletta, this enticing story is complete with very cool art, and a pretty darn good story too!* Fine choice romance fans!**

Our tale of woe chronicles the trials of Glory, a bona fide smarty-pants. While academics are her strong suit, attracting potential mates is not. As demonstrated here and in many other romance comic book stories, a girl with this sort of problem is clearly marked with spectacles.

Glory's roommate, Janet, reminds her that success in attaining a guy can be achieved in large part by staying quiet while the guy talks -- even feigning interest if need be. Glory stays true to herself (at least for the time being) and sacrifices a potential shallow relationship in order to excel at her studies.

After four grueling years as a languages major, Glory graduates and heads off to New York City where she has been hired as a translator for the United Nations! Feeling that she has earned a little pampering for all her hard work (and a new image), Glory goes on a shopping spree, gets a new haircut and gets fitted for contact lenses. Though nervous about her new look at first, Glory steps out into the workforce with confidence. Before long, men start to notice Glory and dates with ambassadors and diplomats become a natural part of her new big city life. Determined to hold on to her budding popularity, Glory takes Janet's advice and keeps her end of the conversations to a minimum.

Janet's technique of playing dumb seems to work for the guys that Glory casually dates, but when Glory starts to date Dan -- things change. Dan is initially captivated by Glory, and the two grow closer and closer with every date.

Their blossoming bond is cut short, however, when Glory fails to show him her thoughts, opinions, and the sparkling wit she nabbed him with. One fateful night, over Chinese food, Dan breaks up with Glory -- citing her lack of intelligence as a major turn-off. At first Glory is taken aback and mortified by the ironic situation, but quickly realizes she must show Dan her true colors before losing him for good.

Glory knows she can't admit to Dan outright that she was playing dumb. Seizing the opportunity of being in the middle of dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Glory quickly begins maneuvering her chopsticks like a pro and instructs Dan on how to do the same. Next, she discusses ideas which she had been "afraid to present before," such as the communication gap between the United States and Russia and ways in which to solve it. Their stimulating conversation continues on the walk home, leaving Dan once again entranced by her. Realizing she has been "stupid about love," Glory does the smartest thing, and gives in to who she really is.

Isn't that a cute story?! Though unfortunate Glory thought she had to ditch her brain (and her glasses) to find love, it was probably comforting for readers know that even comic book characters could have moments of self-doubt. Luckily, our heroine didn't let her insecurities get the best of her and her declaration that true love stems from honesty makes "Too Smart to Love" a hit in my book!

*You know any story that starts with a character saying, "Why don't you date a computer?" has too be good!

**I want to thank everyone who weighed in on this very important decision! I will also be posting "Too Tall to Love" from Falling in Love #130 (March 1972) because it was a clear second favorite!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Sleepwear as Depicted by Mystery Artist!

So far, most of the "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" fashion featurettes I have shown here on Sequential Crush were illustrated by either Tony Abruzzo or Jay Scott Pike. Today I bring you a lovely two-pager from a different artist, one that I am not familiar with. This "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" spread from Girls Romances #143 (September 1969) has a fine layout, great lettering and well drawn figures, but the name of the artist alludes me.

There were other fashion featurettes in other romance comic titles, including the following "Romance in Fashion" from Girls' Love Stories #101 (February 1964). This page "presents the work of one artist, Cynthia Chazan, Montreal, Canada" and is obviously drawn by the same artist as pictured above. Now, here is where it gets tricky. Does this mean that the actual artist who illustrated this piece was a woman named Cynthia Chazan, or does this mean that the outfits were designed by her, à la "Patsy's Pin-up Page!"

Any thoughts, romance fans?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Help Scott Edelman Identify This British Romance Comic Book Panel!

Hi all! I hope you are having a lovely weekend! This is a very special post! Comic book writer extraordinaire, Scott Edelman needs your help! This morning on his LiveJournal blog, Scott recounts a trip to London in 1977 with his new bride, Irene Vartanoff, during which he clipped the following panel from a British romance comic.

Feeling that it was representative of their future together, Scott held onto the panel all these years in his wallet and just recently took it out. Now, he needs our help identifying what comic it came from! If you have any information that could help Scott, be sure to leave him a comment over at his site! Now that is a tale of true life romance!!!

To see more examples of British romance comics, be sure to check out the informative blog, Out of This World. You will be blow away by the gorgeous art, and happy to know DC, Marvel and Charlton weren't the only ones in on the romance game! Also, if you haven't already -- be sure to choose which "Too" story you would like to see this coming week here on Sequential Crush. You have until this evening at 9pm (Central Time) to let me know! So far, it looks like "Too Smart for Romance" is in the lead!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Too (fill in the blank) to Love!

Recently, while flipping through dozens of romance comics from the '70s, I noticed a little pattern with a number of titles -- the use of the intensifier, "too." Below are eight splash pages from eight different stories. The following titles are not just descriptive of the plot line; they also insinuate some sort of value judgment placed upon the female character and allude to her potential status as damaged, undesirable, or different. Keep reading to see what I mean!

"Too Spoiled for Love"
Girls' Love Stories #154
(October 1970)

"Too Beautiful to be Loved"
Girls' Romances #147
(March 1970)

"Too Good to be Loved"
Girls' Romances #149
(June 1970)

"Too Old for Love!"
Falling in Love #122
(April 1971)

DC was confident the above character was indeed "too old." Charlton on the other hand, just wasn't so sure; therefore necessitating the question mark!

"Too Old to Love?"
Romantic Story #119
(June 1972)

"Too Smart to Love"
Falling in Love #137
(October 1972)

"Too Tall to Love"
Falling in Love #130
(March 1972)

"Too Clumsy to Love"
Girls' Love Stories #168
(April 1972)

Which title intrigues you the most? Let me know in the comments, and the story with the most votes by Sunday evening will get an entire post dedicated to it next week!!!

So which story with a declarative title will it be?
Leave a comment and let me know!

Too spoiled?
Too beautiful?
Too good?
Too old?
Too smart?
Too tall?
Too clumsy?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - On Safari!

A little visual candy here for you with Tony Abruzzo's "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from Girls' Love Stories #129 (August 1967)!