Monday, November 29, 2010

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Keepin' Warm and Groovy in Knits!

Knits were very popular in the '60s and '70s, as evidenced by this edition of "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from Girls' Romances #130 (January 1968) by Jay Scott Pike and this later fashion spread from Seventeen magazine from February 1970. As a knitter myself (not a very good one mind you), I would love to find the time and know-how to recreate one of Pike's illustrations!

Well friends -- big changes are on the horizon for this lady blogger, so this may be the last post for a little while. My boyfriend, Justin has been hired by LEGO® and he will be moving to Denmark this winter! Once I find a job over there, I will join him, but that could take up to a year. Tomorrow I will be moving up to Michigan to live with family while I work towards immigrating to one of the happiest countries in the world! Hooray!

I am pretty sure I would sell my soul
for the dress with the green top and the
multi-color zig-zag bottom!!!

During this transition, I will probably be offline for a week or so. Hopefully it won't be too much longer than that, because I know I will be itchin' to get back to writing about romance comics! I have lots of great posts coming up for this winter, so please check back!

Have a great beginning of December!
See you soon!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Reasons Why I am Thankful for Romance Comic Books!

Now that the turkey has been eaten and the pie gobbled down, it is time to say thanks for romance comics! There are so many reasons why I love these gems from the 1960s and 1970s, but here are just ten reasons (in no particular order) I am thankful for the oft-dismissed genre!

♥ The Thrill of the Hunt
Whether found at conventions, comic book stores or on Ebay,
looking high and low for romance comics
is one of my favorite things to do!

House ads ♥
Advertising titles, stories and collections of books,
the house ads of the romance comics
are both informative and fun!

Stories from the People Who Were There ♥
I am so thankful that I have been able to conduct
interviews with the likes of Suzan Loeb, Irene Vartanoff and
José Luis García-López! I can only hope that many more are in store!

♥ Cardy Covers
Not much needs to be said on this point --
who isn't thankful for beautifully rendered Cardy covers?

Crazy Product Advertisements ♥
Fishing rods! Sea-Monkey necklaces! Diet aides! Wigs!
The list goes on and on of advertisements from the
romance comics to be thankful for!

Marc and Paul ♥
One is completely lovable and one is practically the Antichrist...
Twin advice columnists Marc and Paul couldn't be more
different, but that is why I love them so!

Serial Stories and Recurring Characters ♥
Becoming attached to a character in romance stories is
usually problematic due to their fleeting nature. Thankfully,
serials like "Reach for Happiness" and recurring characters like
Page Peterson, satisfy the need for continuity and familiarity.

Inspiring Fashion Spreads ♥
Romance comics from the '60s and '70s are so
captivating, in part, because of the incredible fashions worn by
glamorous characters! I know I sure am thankful for
Mad Mad Modes for Moderns and Dates 'n Mates!

♥ Easter Eggs
Finding an Easter Egg in a romance comic
(like this ode to Green Lantern) is always a treat!

♥ Readers of Sequential Crush
I have saved my number one reason for being thankful for romance comics for last. I will try not to be too gushy or cliche here, but honestly... I am truly thankful for all the amazing people I have met through a mutual love of romance comics. Readers, fellow bloggers, dealers and everyone else -- I am so thankful for you all! You have taught me things, inspired me and made my research of romance comics a continually enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

See You Next Week + A Link!

"He'll Break Your Heart!"
Ric Estrada Pencils
Young Romance #155
(August/September 1968)

You can probably tell from the above panel where I will be for the rest of the week! I am off to celebrate true romance at a friend's wedding this weekend -- you may remember my post about picking out the bridesmaids' dresses from a few months back. Anyway, I will be without internet, but I will be back next week! In the meantime, be sure to check out the latest post at As Told To Stan Lee recounting the classic, "How Can He Love Anyone Who Looks Like Me?" from Girls' Romances #144 (October 1969)! It's a good one!!!

Have a wonderful week!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

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

I am back from Baltimore, and the trip was a success! I will be sure to let you know when the episode airs! Now -- onto tonight's story!

Way back last month I queried which "Too (fill in the blank) to Love" story you all wanted to see! The first choice was "Too Smart to Love!" from Falling in Love #137 (October 1972). Closely behind was the gem I am going to share with you this evening -- "Too Tall to Love" from Falling in Love # 130 (March 1972). Not sure the artist on this one (edit: pencils by Jack Katz, inks by Mike Esposito), but whoever was responsible sure knew how to convey the despair of our vertically gifted leading lady, Iris Manton!

Being 5'3" myself, I can't necessarily identify with 6 foot tall Iris, but I can certainly sympathize with her! Constantly harassed by high heel shoe salesmen and boys who say, "yuk! yuk!" Iris finds herself in perpetual misery.

The only time when she isn't sobbing or cursing herself in the mirror is when she is around the children in the neighborhood who are naturally drawn to her impressive size.

During her high school class graduation photos, she is told by the photographer to stand in the back so that she doesn't "block all the others!" Completely mortified, she begins to cry. Before having a complete meltdown, Iris is distracted by her friend Barry who shows her a newspaper clipping from a New York paper that reads:

Tall Gal Finds Happiness at Amazon Club
Only Girls 6 Feet Tall and Over are Welcome
Come and Meet a Man You Can Look Up To

Intrigued by the ad, Iris talks with her high school counselor who sets up an appointment for her with an employment agency in New York. Iris lands a position at a "day nursery, where working mothers left their children," and is instantly a smash hit with both the children and the other employees.

Iris immediately checks out the Amazon Club where she meets taller-than-her Flora. The two young ladies become roommates and Flora helps Iris navigate a world designed exclusively for women of their stature. The guys Iris meets are handsome and height proportionate, but their dull nature leaves Iris looking for someone who not only towers over her, but keep her from nodding off.

While on a park outing with the children from the day care, Iris bumps into Jack -- a coworker. Though Jack is shorter than Iris, he is very patient and kind. He even buys Iris and all the children ice cream cones!

Iris and the children decide to take a carriage ride, while Jack and his horse stand nearby and wait. All of a sudden, the carriage driver loses control and is thrown out of his seat. At this point, the children and Iris are at the mercy of the runaway horse, but not for long! Jack stops the horse and saves the day!!! Jack's heroics make Iris swoon and she realizes that despite his height (or lack of) he is a catch. The feeling is mutual and Jack asks her to dinner that evening...

...and as you can see -- their date went well!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thank You + Off to Baltimore!

Hi All! I just want to say a huge thank you for checking out last week's interview with José Luis García-López! I had a great time preparing the post, and it really encouraged me to see such an overwhelming interest in a romance artist! All in all, a very exciting thing for the memory of romance comic books!

In other news, I am getting prepped to head off to Baltimore in the morning to do a taping for the PBS show, History Detectives! Although I can't say too much more about it right now, I will be sure to keep you updated!!! Until then, be sure to join me at the end of the week for the story I know you all have been anxiously awaiting - "Too Tall to Love!"

A girl can dream, right?!
Panel from "These Empty Hearts"
Career Girl Romances #60 (December 1970)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Interview with Charlton Romance Comic Book Artist, José Luis García-López!

I hope you all have had a wonderful week so far! As we head into the weekend, I am very excited to share with you a very special interview I conducted with the extraordinarily talented, José Luis García-López! Well known for his superhero work for DC, García-López drew romance comics for Charlton during the late '60s and early '70s!

The artist himself!
José Luis García-López

I began corresponding with Mr. García-López after he saw my post on "Seek Thy Love" from Love Diary #56 (October 1968) a few months back. I am so grateful we have been in touch because not only is he one of the nicest guys you would want to email with, he also is just an all around interesting man! He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions concerning his time drawing romance comic books for Charlton, so please -- enjoy!!!


How did you get involved drawing romance comics for Charlton in the late ‘60s?

A friend who was an artist himself introduced me to an Argentinean agent taking art samples for Charlton. This was in Buenos Aires around 1965, and I was working in a small advertising company. Before that, I had just a handful of comics already published in short-lived comic companies (my first one I was 14 years old) but it was very hard to get paid and impossible to make a living. So, I guess my first really “professional” jobs were those done for Charlton after they saw my samples.

Did you draw the romance characters from models or other sources? What sorts of things inspired you when illustrating the romance comics?

Before the romance stories, my experience (or lack of it) was with western and war stories. So, when challenged to do romantic stuff I immediately looked at Juliet Jones by Stan Drake to learn how to do it. In those years we also had photo-novel magazines (like the foto-romanzo or fumetti in Italy) and they were very useful to design the characters and for the romantic scenes. Doing a good kiss without a good reference was very hard, honest. Besides, I was lucky to have two kindly girl friends that helped me with fashion advice and suggestions and even posed for me. That period was full of learning experiences – there is no better way to learn to draw than from a living model.

"Stubborn Heart!"
Career Girl Romances #71
(October 1972)

Did you ever look at the romance comics being published by DC or Marvel to see what they were up to?

I had no idea of anything done by DC or any other company, including Charlton. I didn’t even see my own work published. The only one was in 1974, a Jonnie Love story, I think. Thanks to you I’m seeing those (and getting ashamed of them) for the first time. What I remember looking at were English love stories published by Fleetway. Also, and very important for me, was an Argentinean artist working for Charlton and on British comics -- Ernesto Garcia Seijas. I looked closely at everything he was doing -- he was working with the same agent so I got to see his original art. I’m sure you found him already in some of the books you reviewed. His work was the best.

"Never Forget Me Jonnie L♥ve"
Teen-Age Love #93
(June 1973)

Concerning the process of creating the romance comics; did you write any stories or have any input on the plots?

Oh no, I was guilty of the art only. Besides, I didn’t speak English yet (technically, I still don’t).

How much freedom did you have to mold the stories based on your artistic vision?

Complete freedom. The only thing I got from the agent was suggestions about how to do a “typical American girl!” He told me for instance, Natalie Wood was a good example. It was funny though because Natalie was Russian or of Russian parents.

Did you always ink your own work on the romance comics?

Yes, we would never have imagined splitting art chores in Argentina in those days. That was something I discovered here. Nowadays I guess, many South American artists (and elsewhere) have adopted this system. Without doubt it’s good to keep deadlines and strongly embrace the publishing companies. Personally, even if I was lucky to have superb artists inking my stuff, I’d prefer to do it myself.

How much did you keep the audience of young women in mind when you were illustrating the romance comics?

I was aware to whom the stories were intended, but never lost sleep over it. My real problem then was to do it right and that meant a daily struggle with each drawing. Wrong anatomy is going to be noticed, whether the reader is a girl or a boy. Lucky for me, I had those two girls I told you about who criticized my work in an intelligent way, and from a girl’s point of view. So, I was kept in line.

Hollywood Romances #52
(April 1970)

Were there any times when you felt that as a male you couldn’t convey these stories intended for a primarily female audience?

I never thought about it at the time. Now I'm more conscious (or more professional) when illustrating a story, but I don't think in terms of gender -- I mean a masculine or feminine audience, but in terms of age. I'm aware of the generational gap between my potential readers and myself, so I’m obliged to keep myself up to date.

Overall, did you enjoy illustrating the romance comics?

Yes, even with my lack of experience, I enjoyed every minute of it. It was an incredible learning experience I was going through. Even now, I consider romance stories the most difficult genre to illustrate properly.

Did you ever receive any feedback from the romance comic book fans?

Not that I was aware of -- remember I didn’t even have a chance to see them published. Anyway, my first fan was a girl :), but that because of a pirate character I did in the early '70s. It was for the Argentinean market but years later was reprinted in Europe.

Do you remember any stories or covers in particular that you liked or were especially happy with?

Well, I never did any of the covers. They used the first splash page from the story as such. And honestly, I don’t remember the stories. I suppose I was happy with the last three or four I did for them because I was more confident in my work.

Do you feel that the time you spent illustrating romance comics prepared you for the superhero work you began to illustrate in the 1970s? In what ways?

I think so. I can say that before the romance comics I was an amateur artist, and I graduated to a professional thanks to them. Besides, when visiting the DC offices for the first time, I discovered that Dick Giordano had been Charlton’s editor and knew my work -- it was like a presentation card for me.

"Seek Thy Love"
Love Diary #56
(October 1968)

What projects are you working on currently?

Mostly DC character art for licensing, but I take any chance to do comic books if I can get them with a flexible deadline.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers of Sequential Crush?

I believe in diversity and I would like to see more romantic comic books besides the well known superheroes. There’s a market out there for this genre (and many more) and Hollywood is aware of it. The Twilight Saga is a good example, isn’t it? Gothic Romance, but romance anyway.


Fascinating stuff! I have to give a huge thank you to José for being such a willing participant and for his patience, as well as passion for the comic book medium! If you have enjoyed looking at and reading about the work of Mr. García-López, I would highly recommend joining the José Luis García-López fan group on Facebook!