Monday, January 31, 2011

Mustache Mania!

Mustaches have been in vogue at various times throughout human history, but never were they quite as impressive as they were in the 1970s. The '70s was the era of the mustache -- everyone wore them... televisions stars, movie stars, and yes, even my father.

I wouldn't ride around in
metal basketry until years later
My oldest sister, Shannon -- all too
to be a child of the '70s!

But my dad and those celebrities were not the only ones sporting a mustache in the '70s, believe you me. Romance comic book characters did as well! Not only were mustaches fashionable, but in the romance comics, the mustache helped to convey a variety of male archetypes and embody varying degrees of characterization... as you will soon see!

Charlton was ahead of the mustache game
with this flirtatious "adult education" teacher character.
"A Kiss for Teacher"
Career Girl Romances #47
(October 1968)

Some mustached men
left heartache in their wake!
"When Love Dies"
Secret Hearts #142
(March 1970)

Mustaches were no guarantee
to a woman's affections, however.
"One More Chance!"
Heart Throbs #146
(October 1972)

Mustaches came in all colors and were
worn by men of all occupations, including
this hardworking construction worker...
"Happiness Now"
Just Married #110
(April 1976)

...and this Vietnam deserter.
"One Heart Must Break!"
Our Love Story #15
(February 1972)

The young, handsome rebels of the romance comics
were prone to keeping their upper lip hairs festive...
"One Husband, Two Loves!"
Girls' Love Stories #157
(February 1971) were the single fathers of the romance comics.
"Cupid is a Monster"
Romantic Story #116
(December 1971)

Not all female romance comic book
characters were fans of the 'stache.
"The Boy Who Can't Be Mine!"
My Love #29
(July 1974)

The mustached men of the romance comics
were suave. Sometimes too suave for their own good.
"Lisa -- Make Up Your Mind!"
Young Love #101
(November 1972)

Though this leading lady may
have loved two men, it wouldn't be for long.
For some ladies, mustaches = a nightmare!
"I Loved Two Men"
Girls' Love Stories #165
(January 1972)

"Bad News!"
Falling in Love #143
(October/November 1973)

But in the end, sometimes it is
the guy with the mustache that
wins over the girl's heart!!!
"First Date!"
Falling in Love #142
(August/September 1973)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Made for Each Other! - Heart Throbs #130 (February/March 1971)

Ah, computers! Where would we be without them? Obviously we would not be reading this blog, but we also would not be indulging in this delightful Don Heck illustrated story from Heart Throbs #130 (February/March 1971) about the early days of computer dating! "Made for Each Other!" introduces us to Jean, a young woman who runs a computer dating service.

Smitten by Mr. Paul Davis, a new client, Jean asks her assistant (an older gentleman by the name of Dan) to ensure that her punch card is matched up with Paul's card. Dan tries to tell Jean something after running Paul and Jean's cards through the computer, but thinking he is going to lecture her for "cheating" she cuts him off and immediately calls Paul to let him know they are a match. Paul and Jean go on a date and have a lovely evening full of fine food, rollerskating and a show at the movies.

After having such a great time, Jean feels a bit guilty for having "helped Cupid along a bit." Just as she is about to confess over what she had done, Paul makes a confession himself. He too had asked Dan to make sure their punch cards were matched up! Though Jean is delighted over their mutual feelings for one another, she realizes that Dan shouldn't have done such a thing for a client. Paul makes Jean promise that she will go easy on Dan. The next day at work, Jean confronts Dan about what he did for Paul. Paul has a confession of his own, however; he never tampered with the cards -- the computer matched the two lovebirds up!

The characterization of grouchy computer operator Dan in this story is great, plus I love the infusion of a technology! Believe it or not, there is actually another DC romance story about computer dating, also from 1971. But that my friends, we will save for another day!!!

Have a wonderful and warm weekend!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are You Ready for Marriage?

The quiz "Are You Ready for Marriage?" from Girls' Romances #147 (March 1970) is quite possibly one of my favorite romance comic book quizzes. The 30 questions were designed to test the reader's marriage preparedness. It is actually rather sophisticated for a comic book! Much of it, such as questions on financial arrangements and independence are good things to think about for anyone heading into marriage -- regardless of time period.

A few of my favorite
questions (and answers):

8. Have you ever done something together like working to complete a chore at work or school, shoveled snow or mowed a lawn, painted a room, or combined your monies to buy something? (this should be answered yes)

11. Do you love him less after a scrap or continue to love him just as much? (yes again, on the second part of course)

17. Are you uncomfortable being alone at night if he has to work or go out of town on business or goes bowling with the boys or must train for two weeks during the Summer with his military or naval service unit? (ah, trick question! This one should be answered with a "no")

22. Do you retain leftovers from your meals, know how to prepare them attractively? (this is to be answered yes -- and remember, you may not have had a home microwave in 1970!)

Give it a read!
It is really quite fascinating!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Feature - Time Travel Tuesdays! 1940s and 1950s Romance Comic Book Stories!

The wait is over! I am very happy to present a new monthly feature here at Sequential Crush -- Time Travel Tuesdays! On the last Tuesday of each month I will feature a romance story from the early days of the love comics! While the '60s and '70s romance comics will always be number one in my heart, these stories are fantastic in their own right!!! Today's story is "My Life Was a Lie" from the Harvey series, Love Problems and Advice Illustrated #15 (May 1952). Not sure who the artist is on this one, but it is quite lovely! Our story goes a little something like this...

After meeting on a train headed to Clayton College for the new academic year, Bonnie and Bob start to date and go mad for one another. Problem is, Bonnie is hiding just one minor detail from dear Bob... she isn't actually a student!

A lovely evening is spent by the young lovers nestled by the fireplace of the Delta Alpha Theta sorority house, while the sorority sisters enjoy a night at the theater. Bob thinks that Bonnie ditched the girls for an evening with him, but little does he know; come morning, Bonnie is going to be cleaning the ashes out of the hearth.

That's right. While the sisters of Delta Alpha Theta attend their classes -- Bonnie, who cannot afford to get a college education, attends to their dishes and laundry. But Bob must never find out!

How did Miss Bonnie get into such a pickle, you may ask? Well, when Bonnie and Bob met on the train headed to campus, she ran with Bob's assumption that she was a fellow incoming freshman. How could she not? He made it very clear that he was smitten by the idea of an educated and interesting woman.

Soon, dating Bob becomes problematic for Bonnie, as it gets harder and harder to hide the fact that she is just the "help." Dodging the ladies of Delta Alpha Theta is a full-time job in itself, and Bonnie wonders if she can give up the act without losing Bob's love.

The charade doesn't last long, however; Bob unexpectedly shows up at the sorority house for a dinner with the newspaper staff of which he is a member. Knowing she is caught in her lie and expecting fallout worse than any nuclear testing site, Bonnie tries to make a run for it. Before she can get out of dodge, she is stopped by an unexpected and life-changing offer.

Though it is obvious that Bonnie is overjoyed because she can quit her act and be confident in the fact that Bob will stick by her side, it is neat that the last few panels are written in such a way as to portray Bonnie as being thrilled about the prospects of going to college! Quite ahead of its time, wouldn't you say?!

I hope you enjoyed the first
installment of Time Travel Tuesdays --
check in next month for your fix of "vintage" romance stories!

Monday, January 24, 2011

...And the Winner Is!

Thank you to everyone who responded in the comments of the last post, concerning the Marvel Romance Redux line. It very enjoyable for me to hear the insightful and thought-provoking things you all had to say! Without further ado, the lucky winner of a copy of Our Love Story #11 (June 1971) is...

Mickey Quinn said...

I think this is hilariously bad. Especially "Damn, I am one good-looking fox." Classy, Marvel.

Congrats, Mickey! Please contact me at jacquenodell at yahoo dot com with your mailing information!

I would like to take just a second here to state my position on the Marvel Romance Redux books and other similar concepts. As you can probably guess by now, I absolutely love romance comics. I have a deep appreciation for everything about them -- the stories, the art, the history. Over the course of the past 60+ years that the romance comics have been around, the notion of love and relationships has changed, but I am given hope in the basic message that true love exists -- for everyone.

Romance comics are an amazing snapshot of 20th century American history and culture. As modern men and women, I can understand how it could be hard to read the content of the romance comics -- making them easy targets to laugh at and dilute. Perhaps the snarkiness that is often thrown towards the romance comics is derived from a sense of being uncomfortable with these vestiges of the past?

So much attention is paid to the superhero comics that other genres like romance and westerns and funny animal books get left in the dust. Although these parodies are often condescending, if they happen to intrigue someone and inspire them to investigate the original romance comics, then I think that is a good thing. I applaud Marvel and others for not forgetting the genre entirely, but I do wish that the romance comics in all their beautiful and historic glory would be reprinted perhaps just a little more often. Since they are not super accessible (cost, availability, etc.), I hope Sequential Crush here has filled the void in an interesting, critical and yes, sometimes humorous (but never snarky) way!

Be sure to join me here tomorrow (Tuesday) for a new monthly feature that I am very, very excited about! Once you see what it is -- I think you will be totally jazzed too!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marvel Romance Redux + Giveaway!

Don't worry -- you aren't seeing double! Below are pages from 1960s and '70s Marvel romance stories along with pages from the Marvel Romance Redux issue Love is a Four Letter Word from August of 2006. From 2006 to 2008, Marvel briefly published a line of romance comics that re-scripted romance stories from the 1960s and '70s, but retained the original art. Incorporating smatterings of 21st century popular culture and technology with new dialogue -- these updated stories are no holds barred goofy! Check out the splash page from each story, accompanied by the splash page from the original story!* Don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them!

Our first story, "Hot Alien Love" originally was titled "Another Kind of Love" and appeared in My Love #18 (July 1972) with a script by Stan Lee and art by John Buscema. What was once a story of a nurse who falls in love with a patient after breaking it off with a dull banker, is transformed into a story of a "Homeworld" security agent who catches extraterrestrials for a living.

"Buffy Willow Agent of A.D.D." is a crazy take on "He Never Said A Word!" originally from Love Romances #101 (September 1962) with art by Gene Colan. The 1962 version has a sweet and simple plot of a young woman who falls for a quiet hero, but the 2006 version turns the young woman into a forgetful secret agent looking for defectors.

The third story in the Redux issue, "Mice and Money" is a retelling of "By Love Betrayed!" first presented in Love Romances #102 (November 1962). With pencils by Jack Kirby and inks by Vince Colletta, "By Love Betrayed!" chronicles the fears of newly engaged Laura. "Mice and Money" turns the original story on its head to include a serious rodent obsession on behalf of the main characters.

"Love Me, Love My Clones!" was originally titled, "Jilted!" and was published in My Love #14 (November 1971) with art by Don Heck and John Romita, Sr. In the original story, raven-haired Connie is jilted by her boyfriend, only to find out that it is a blessing in disguise. The Redux version, "Love Me, Love My Clones!" is about -- you guessed it -- a girl who is smitten by a set of handsome clones!

The Colletta inked "They Said I Was... Insane!" originally, "Someday He'll Come Along!" from Teen-Age Romance #77 (September 1960) goes from being about a young woman working at an advertising agency who isn't willing to settle, to a story of a woman convinced that there has been an alien infiltration in town.

So what do you think of Marvel's modern spin on the romance comics? Do you like? Do you think these humorous takes on romance comics are fun or blasphemous?! I want to hear your opinion! When you leave a comment with your feelings about the Marvel Romance Redux concept, I will throw your name in a hat (AKA ) for a chance to win your very own copy of Marvel's Our Love Story #11, plus a few other goodies! You have until this Sunday evening at 5pm (EST) to comment and be eligible for the giveaway. I will announce a winner Monday! Good luck!

*All of the original stories appeared in the 2006 Marvel trade paperback Marvel Romance. Scans and credits appearing in this post are from that publication. 2006 was a dynamite year over at Marvel for the romance comics!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random Acts of Geekery Interview!

If you have a few extra minutes to spare today, be sure to check out the fine blog Random Acts of Geekery for an interview with yours truly! It was great fun being interviewed by Jon Knutson and I hope you will have an equally fun time reading it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Personality Plus - Heart Throbs #144 (August 1972)

Here is one of those short stories that I just love, love, love and I hope that you will love too! "Personality Plus" was featured in the August 1972 issue of DC's Heart Throbs and tells the tale of Kelly -- who is of the late-blooming, quiet (yet secretly goofy) variety. Harassed by her girlfriends for not having a boyfriend, Kelly is challenged by them to try to get the attention of a guy in the park.

Knowing she can't let her new friends prove her wrong, Kelly uses a little ingenuity to garner looks from the men passing by... and boy! Does she get some looks!

What was it that Kelly
did to attract attention?

Much to Kelly's surprise -- her wacky antics work and she lures in a perfectly handsome (and equally silly) suitor who totally digs her!

When Kelly's impressed friends inquire about how she snagged such a dreamboat, she just casually answers, "It's all in the way you act! Ha-ha!"

I always love a story in
which the goofy girl triumphs!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - It's Coats, Coats, Coats for 1967!

It's another round of coats here at Sequential Crush with Young Love #150 (October/November 1967). These fine examples of outerwear (beautifully drawn by Tony Abruzzo) would make any modern girl giddy!

Happy Monday!

I have a giveaway planned
for the end of this week, so stay tuned!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cigarettes and Smoking in Romance Comics

For anyone who has watched AMC's Mad Men, it is no secret that smoking was rampant in mid-century America. In a genre touted for its glamor and true-to-life stories, it is only natural that cigarettes and smoking were prevalent in the romance comics. I have collected for your reading and viewing pleasure, a sampling of images and attitudes from the romance comics concerning smoking. Enjoy this romp through days of yore!

Long gone are the days of advising people to smoke -- much less teenage girls! This advice from Ace's Real Love #35 (January 1951) advice column, "The Charm Corner" advises young women looking for friends to light one up in the name of comradery:

"If it's permissable [sic] in your office to take time out for a cigarette in the rest room, choose a time when some girl you'd like to know is doing the same thing. Many pleasant friendships have had their beginnings over a cigarette."

The romance comic book stories featured many a character who smoked. Sometimes it was part of the plot, and other times it was just a part of everyday life for the characters as evidenced by the following splash page from a 1964 story.

"End With A Kiss"
Young Love #41
(January/February 1964)

Two years later, in 1966, fourteen year old "Betts" wrote in to Young Love advice columnist, Jane Ford to ask her opinion on girls who smoked. Miss Ford had this to say:

"There's nothing distinctive nor talented about being able to smoke. Any fool can light a cigarette..."

"As Jane Ford Sees It..."
Young Love #54
(March/April 1966)

Though subtle, this page from a 1967 DC romance story depicts a young woman sitting at a bar with her pack of cigarettes and what looks to be a martini. Quite glamorous, no?!

Everyone smoked in this story!

"Her Last Chance for Romance!"
Falling in Love #94
(October 1967)

Even by 1970, health professionals such as Jewel (a nurse)
were depicted as smokers:

"Confessions" Episode 4
Girls' Love Stories #150
(April 1970)

The characters from the long running serial "3 Girls -- Their Lives -- Their Loves" were big smokers, as seen in the next two images. Most everyone seemed to smoke in this serial, doctors not exempt!

Episode 9
Heart Throbs
(October/November 1970)

My, my!
What a large cigarette
you have there, sir!

Episode 12
Heart Throbs #113
(April/May 1968)

Though it is not surprising in the least that the following panel originally appeared in a story from 1960 (My Own Romance #74 - March 1960); it is a little shocking that this smoking scene was not edited out of its subsequent reprinting in 1971.

"He Was Perfect -- But I Lost Him!"
Reprinted in Our Love Story #12
(August 1971)

Smoking in the romance comics seems to have pretty much disappeared from the sequential art in the early '70s, but it certainly hadn't vanished from minds of young comic book reading folk. Donna Fayne's anti-smoking rhetoric was a bit more groovy than Jane Ford's, but seems to get the same message across -- don't do it!

"At your age, you don't need any artificial turn-ons:
everything you do, think, experience and feel is a heavy scene."

"Like It Is! by Donna Fayne"
Heart Throbs #138
(February 1972)

I have to say, it is the subtle things in the romance comics that really get me excited and are so telling of the evolution of attitudes in American society!