Friday, September 30, 2011

1972 Romance Comic Book Contest - "The Woman I Want To Be!" from DC's Falling in Love

Not only do I love the stories of the romance comics, I love the stuff in between the stories, including the contests that were held to engage with readers. The following pages are from a contest that was held in Falling in Love called, "The Woman I Want to Be." Readers were encouraged to write in about their future plans, hopes, and dreams for a chance to win $5.00 (equivalent to approximately $25 today).

National Periodical Publications asks:
"Do you look forward to a happy marriage?
Or a successful career?"

Contest announcement from
Falling in Love #133 (June 1972)

The contest's first winner, 15 year old Alice Evans declared to the DC editorial staff and fellow readers, "I really feel that I could manage both a home life and a business career, and I want to grow up to be the kind of woman who does."

First contest winners
Falling in Love #134 (July 1972)

The second first prize winner, Eve Davidson had the greater good in mind when she wrote, "I want to be the kind of woman who extends her love beyond her own home. I hope to have a happy marriage and a family, but I would also like to do something for the world."

Second round of winners
Falling in Love #135 (August 1972)

"The big deal is: girls in various parts of the country,
East or West, North or South, big city or small town, are beginning to feel that being a woman is a wonderful thing in today's world."

The final winner of "The Woman I Want to Be!" contest was a young lady named Frieda Margolin who shared that along with marrying a "fine man," her dreams included "...working hard in school to get good grades, so I can go on to a college with a good veterinary school. That way I'll earn money as a vet so I can get my own farm someday."

Final contest winners
Falling in Love #136 (September 1972)

These letters are quite moving, no?! It is so cool that they are not only pages of text, but documents that give a view into the audience of conscientious young ladies who were reading romance comics in the '70s! Not only do I wonder if these young women achieved their goals, I have to wonder if DC held on to all their letters in their archives or if they were regarded as throw-away pieces of everyday business? Either way, I definitely feel lucky that we have these three responses to treasure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time Travel Tuesdays - "Rancho of Golden Dreams" Cowgirl Romances #2 (1950)

It's that time again, Time Travel Tuesday! Today's story, "Rancho of Golden Dreams" is from the Fiction House publication, Cowgirl Romances #2 (1950). It is currently National Hispanic Heritage Month, so this epic romance tale set in "Old California" is quite fitting. One of the few representations of Hispanics in romance comics, this story is less about leading lady Dolores and her search for romance and more about her quest to save her father's estate. The story (credited to Augustine Martinez) is a little intricate, so here it is in its entirety -- courtesy of the Digital Comic Museum!

Click to enlarge!

I have a few other stories for Hispanic Heritage Month planned, so be sure to check back through October!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - College Chic

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend! To start the week off right, here's a fall back-to-school edition "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from Girls' Love Stories #125 (February 1967). Sorta makes me want to go back to college myself!


Quick announcement -- I have just created a fan page for Sequential Crush on Facebook! Please "Like" and spread the word! Hope to see you there!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Chat With Jim Steranko on His Only Romance Comic Book Story - "My Heart Broke in Hollywood!"

While I was at the San Diego Comic-Con a couple months ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Jim Steranko. He was kind enough to divert his attention away from his convention duties and chat with me a bit about his only romance story, “My Heart Broke in Hollywood!” that was originally published in Our Love Story #5 (June 1970). Our meeting was happenstance, so naturally I was without a recording device. After we talked, I quickly ran off to scribble down some notes! So without further ado, the following narrative is what Steranko told me about his one and only romance story! The accompanying pages are the original color guide for the story!*

Initially, Steranko was asked to draw a Western story, but said that he wanted to do a romance story instead. He felt that so much of the romance comic book stories were done in the “Jay Scott Pike” style that he wanted to try something radically different, and unlike any other romance story anyone had ever seen!

After penciling and inking the Stan Lee plotted story, Steranko decided he would color it himself. Knowing his color choices were non-traditional for a romance story, he decided to wait to turn the pages in just before the 5pm deadline – by which time it would be too late to change anything! Steranko recollected that Marie Severin thought it was pretty wild, but ultimately let the story pass through as he intended.

Steranko went on to tell me that when Our Love Story #5 appeared on the newsstands, Carmine Infantino apparently called a meeting with his staff over at DC. As Infantino chomped on his trademark cigar, he passed out ten copies of the rival Marvel romance. He instructed his staff to open up to Steranko’s “My Heart Broke in Hollywood!” and exclaimed, “Top this next month or you're fired!”

And that, my friends is the story that Steranko told me! Unfortunately as I said, I didn’t have anything to record this discussion with since it occurred spur of the moment. But sometimes, those encounters are the best and elicit the most genuine of stories! It was clear from his enthusiasm that Steranko not only enjoyed telling me about his sole romance story, but that he had a great time creating it!

*A big thank you to color guide owner, Matthew Holtzman, as well as Tony Robertson who runs the terrific website, The Drawings of Steranko where the above pages are hosted. If you would like to read “My Heart Broke in Hollywood” it has been reprinted a few times and can be found on a number of websites including True Love Comics Tales which posted it just a few days ago!

Have a splendid weekend!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Learning from Romance Comics - Margrete Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden - "A Woman to Remember"

This two-page filler story from Secret Hearts #115 (October 1966) is quite fitting since I just moved to Denmark and only last week the country elected their first female Prime Minister.
Since I am not super up on my Scandinavian history (yet!), I'll let "A Woman to Remember" be your guide!

Click to read!
This is totally the kind of feature that would have sucked an eleven-year-old me into romance comics, and kept me hangin' around for more!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Classic Tale of Unrequited Love... Almost!

Every so often I come across a romance story that is a little on the bizarre side, and I just have to share! This edition of the semi-regular feature "Sweet Mystery of Love" was penciled by Tony Abruzzo and appeared in Girls' Love Stories #136 (July 1968). Contrary to what may seem like a pattern in romance comics, not all stories were about instantaneous attraction!

Janice's first mistake was agreeing to be set up on a blind date by her friend Cara with a guy named Freddy. Freddy is immediately enamored by Janice and she in turn, is completely repulsed!

After an uncomfortable evening and an awkward attempt at a kiss, Freddy professes his love for Janice. As he promises to call, she just shirks and vows to let her friend Cara know exactly how miserable the date was for her.

The next day Janice calls Cara up and reprimands her for arranging such a mismatch. Cara apologizes and suggests that she just refuse Freddy's offers to go out again. As you will see, that plan proves to be a situation that is easier said than done!

Freddy ignores (or doesn't get) Janice's attempts to get rid of him. Not only does he continue to call her, but starts showing up at her work...

...and even on her dates with other guys!

The situation becomes too much to bear, and Janice finally decides that she must confront Freddy directly and firmly. She tells him that he is not her type, and that he is wasting his time and needs to move on. Freddy calmly asserts that his love for her is unwavering, and that he will continue to be there for her until she changes her mind and embraces his love, or marries someone else -- whichever comes first.

Janice goes to the big dance with George. Having told him about the situation with Freddy, he is impressed that her talk with "Old Faithful" seems to have done the trick. As for Janice, she starts to get a little fidgety when Freddy doesn't make an appearance at the dance.

That night after the dance, Janice finds herself unable to shake thoughts of Freddy and his whereabouts. The next morning, the phone rings and Cara delivers some news -- Freddy was hit by a car just prior to the dance.

Janice quickly heads the hospital and while at Freddy's bedside, admits her realization of love for him. It seems that his absence, made her heart grow fonder.

In a way, this "Sweet Mystery of Love" is a classic tale of wanting what you can't have. In another light, it could be interpreted as a story about a young woman merely falling for her stalker. Perhaps Freddy just came on too strong and Janice wanted the thrill of the chase? What do you think? Sweet or scary?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Romance Comics Are All Over the Place!

A lot has been going on in
the world of romance comics lately...

Just yesterday, Erin Jameson's Lovefool column over at PLAYBACK:stl featured a critical review of the 2007 Marvel Romance Redux series. Erin does a nice job of laying out where exactly the concept went wrong and calls for the romance comics to be treated with "sincerity." I couldn't agree more.

Many of you probably already know, but this news is definitely worth repeating. In February, DC will be releasing Showcase Presents: Young Love Volume 1! Yay! It is currently available for pre-order at Amazon. Will you be picking it up?

Though the Showcase romance comics will be in black and white, the upcoming Fantagraphics book, Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's 1940s-50s Romance Comics will be in full glorious color! Head over here for a preview of the book by editor, Michel Gagne! So excited for this one!

Speaking of Kirby! Last week over at his super-educational new blog (Marvel Mysteries and Comics Minutiae), Nick Caputo discussed covers that he believes Kirby both penciled and inked. Nick's in-depth analysis includes a romance cover!!!

I hope you are having a fantastic week!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - I'm Back!

"Mad Mad Modes for Moderns"
Girls Love Stories #141
(February 1969)

Hello! I'm back! Still recovering from the move and adjusting to my new home, but I have missed you all and discussing romance comics a ton -- so I am happy to get things back off the ground! Today I have for you a Jay Scott Pike illustrated "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" featuring the timeless midi-skirt! Though I am not the biggest fan of Pike's romance work, I do think he managed to lend an air of grace to the pages of the comics. What do you think about Pike's romance comic art? I am curious to know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Checkin' In!

Yup, I managed to squeeze my entire romance comic book collection into four suitcases and two shipped boxes!
Who needs clothes?!?!

Hi everyone! It has been quite a while, hasn't it? I just wanted to do a quick post to let you all know that my move overseas went smoothly, and that I am settling in quite nicely here in Denmark! I really appreciate all the kind words and wishes that were sent my way -- I truly am so grateful to have you all in my life! I am still working on getting my little office set up, as well as acquiring a new scanner, but I should be back to posting regularly next week! Stay tuned!!!