Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

As Told To: Stan Lee - Birthday Edition!


Let's all send our best wishes to Stan Lee who is celebrating his 90th birthday today! A staple of the comic book industry, Stan continues to delight fans all over the world while acting as one of the most enthusiastic and beloved spokesmen for the medium. Luckily for us romance fans, Stan wrote countless romance stories over the years!

Not long ago, Stan told me one of his favorite anecdotes from his time writing the Marvel-age romance stories.* As the story goes, Stan wanted it known that he penned the romance tales despite their confessional tone. He didn't want to ruin the illusion that they were stories straight from the hearts of the heroines, so he gave the stories the now famous credit line, "As Told to: Stan Lee."** With those few simple words, Stan appeared to be an impartial witness to their sorrow -- while simultaneously giving himself writing credits! Pretty ingenious! I have read the line about a million times now, but it still gives me a little chuckle to picture a charming leisure-suited Stan interviewing heartbroken bell-bottom clad beauties!

Happiest of birthday wishes, Stan!

*Information taken from my correspondence with Stan Lee (June 2012).
**"As Narrated to: Stan Lee" was also another one of Stan's signatures in the 1960s and '70s romance comics.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

 "The Perfect Gift"
Pencils: John Rosenberger
(January 1972)

I have been relaxing pretty hard the past few days (Oops! But, I guess thats what the holidays are for, right?!) so I just wanted to pop in today and say a quick hello and a very Merry Christmas and very Happy Holidays to you all! I'll be back later in the week with some more (and more substantial at that!) romance comic book goodness! Until then, enjoy all the love and warmth of the season! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's a Trap!

 "The Tender Trap"
Pencils and Inks: Torre Repriso 
Just Married #95 (June 1973)

With the sad news of late, I figured we could all use a laugh right about now. Be well, friends. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Hanukkah from Charlton!

  "David and Eileen, Part II - Too Many In-Laws" 
Pencils: A. Martinez, Inks: J. Zuniga
Just Married #94 (May 1973)

While DC and Marvel made efforts at portraying racial diversity in the '70s, Charlton went a different route -- religious diversity. For nine issues of Just Married, readers were treated to the trials and tribulations of David and Eileen -- interfaith newlyweds. As far as I know, the series contains the only references to Judaism in romance comics, and one of the only two instances of recurring characters in the Charlton romances -- the other, Jonnie Love of course! Happy Hanukkah my friends!  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Call Me Maybe - Telephones in Romance Comics!

If romance comics could talk! 
"Telephone Hour" from the 1963
film Bye Bye Birdie

I am sure like me, many of you are reliant upon text messaging, Facebook, and email to communicate with friends and family. But, I am sure many of you can also remember (as I can) a time not so long ago when the land-based telephone was the number one device used to keep in touch. I feel like I was constantly on the phone as a teen! Though I hardly remember now what all that chatting was about, it clearly served a purpose to me and my friends. And you bettcha -- most of the time our phone conversations revolved around gossip, who was cute, and who was even more cute. Seeing as our beloved romance comics took place when telephones were the most high-tech devices in most people's lives, it is no surprise that they figure pretty prominently in the stories. Below are just a few examples for you of telephones delivering news both good and bad!

"Happily Ever After!"
Pencils: Mike Sekowsky 
Young Love #63 (September/October 1967)
Pencils and Inks: Ernesto R. Garcia
Sweethearts #98 (June 1968)

 "Letter to a Lost Love!"
Pencils and Inks: John Romita
Girls' Romances #136 (October 1968)

"No More Kid's Kisses"
Teen Confessions #76 (October 1972)

"When I Really Fall in Love!"
Inks: Vince Colletta
Falling in Love #138 (November/December 1972)

"He's Hers, But -- I Want Him!"
Pencils: Gene Colan, Inks: Dick Ayers
Our Love Story # 21 (February 1973)

 "Ask Him What He Thinks of Me!"
Pencils: Creig Flessel
Young Romance #196 (November/December 1973)

"Leaving on a Jet Plane!"
Pencils: Jack Katz, Inks: Frank Giacoia
My Love #30 (September 1974)

Gee, never has an inanimate object caused so much drama!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Romance in Fashion - Style Au Go Go

"Romance in Fashion"
Heart Throbs #98 (October/November 1965)

Well, I tried! I tried to stop myself from sharing with you fine folks another fashion related piece from a romance comic, but in the end I just couldn't help it! So, here you are with some "style... au go go" from Heart Throbs #98 (October/November 1965). Not only are the reader-generated fashions tops, the layout (from an artist that has had me stumped for some time now) is pretty great as well! I guess I won't be too hard on myself though. I just really love the fashion of the '60s and '70s and I love sharing with you what I love! And on that note -- enjoy!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Favorites - Malt Shop Romance!

It's Friday! Let's celebrate with some great DC romance covers! You will quickly notice that all five of these covers take place in a malt shop -- the quintessential hangout for the mid-century teen. I always just assumed as a devout Saved By the Bell watching elementary school kid that high school would be rife with after school meetups at the local diner (à la the Max). Not so as it turned out! But maybe it was a good thing. Judging from these covers, one is liable to cry in such an establishment! 

Falling in Love #76
(July 1965)

 Falling in Love #104
(January 1969)

 Girls' Love Stories #145
(August 1969)

 Young Love #81
(July/August 1970)

Young Love #93
(March 1972)

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Credits: 1.) Falling in Love #76 (July 1965) Pencils: Tony Abruzzo 2.) Falling in Love #104 (January 1969) Pencils: Ric Estrada, Inks: Dick Giordano 3.) Girls' Love Stories #145 (August 1969) Pencils and Inks: Nick Cardy 4.)  Young Love #81 (July/August 1970) Pencils: Bill Draut, Inks: Dick Giordano 5.) Young Love #93 (March 1972) Pencils: John Rosenberger, Inks: Vince Colletta

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Serious Topics in Romance Comics - Girls' Love Stories #146 presents "Abandoned!"

Most of the romance comic book stories are light, and ultimately, carefree tales of love and lust. "Abandoned!" from Girls' Love Stories #146 (October 1969) (which looks to be primarily penciled by Tony Abruzzo) is not one such story. As you will see, it starts out typically enough, but ends in a very unexpected way. Read on!

Susan is gorgeous and one of the highest paid and most elite of models in the industry. Not only does she have her amazing looks and a fantastic career, she is madly in love with her boyfriend, Peter. Only thing is... he doesn't love her.

Peter has competition in the form of fashion photographer, Clay Jones. Clay totally digs Susan, but she is just over the moon with Peter. After a shoot one day just as Susan is leaving, a young model approaches Susan to thank her for landing a big billboard campaign. Oh that Susan -- beautiful and super kind to boot! But, even Susan's good looks and winning personality can't help her keep Peter. When they return to her place he dumps her.

Susan takes it like a champ (because she is classy like that) but the inevitable flood of emotions overtake her. For weeks she stays in her apartment and mourns the loss of her love.

Finally, the tears subside and Susan decides to head back into work. Upon her return Clay is happy to see her, but Susan is emotionally drained and in no mood to deal with anyone. When the young model she helped earlier approaches her for more advice, Susan is quick to brush her off. Frankly, Susan just isn't herself after the breakup.

"So I won't be called the model with a heart anymore!
A fat lot of good that ever did me anyway!"  

Susan is annoyed by everyone and everything -- from taxi drivers to her own concerned mother. Just leave her alone, why don't cha?!

As the days go on, Susan starts to forget about Peter, but at the same time feels little toward anything else. One day when the head of the fashion house (basically her boss) visits, Susan is completely rude to him. Clay approaches her about it but she tells him to shut it. A few nights later Clay pays an unannounced visit to Susan at her apartment. She turns her back to him as he professes his love to her and tells her that he wants to marry her, but he is concerned for her too. She has let the breakup with Peter (a mere setback in Clay's opinion) and its aftermath ruin her. Susan tells Clay that his words are falling on deaf ears and that she feels nothing. As Clay leaves he reminds her that he is there for her, but he also ponders aloud what it will take to shake her up.

The lonely days and monotonous nights continue for Susan, until one evening when she gets a call from Amy -- the young model she had helped before. Amy is in desperate need of help after ingesting a large amount of sleeping pills. Finally, Susan is ripped out of her emotional stupor, and instructs Amy to stay upright and to not close her eyes. Next, Susan calls Clay and asks him to meet her at Amy's place.

Upon Susan's arrival, Amy is struggling to stay awake -- to stay alive. Susan and Clay prop Amy up and force her to walk as Amy cries out, "...All I want to do is... sleep... and die..."

Susan says all the right things to the ailing Amy, and from the bottom of her heart. Susan sheds a tear as she says things to Amy that they both need to hear. Amy slowly recovers and after the long vigil, Clay and Susan quietly walk hand in hand, off into the sunrise. Susan is changed, and for the better. 

Quite a moving story, and pretty heavy for a romance comic, wouldn't you say? Though not necessarily a cautionary tale, "Abandoned!" is unique in that it addresses a topic of such a serious nature. In fact, I can't think off the top of my head of any other romance comic story that involves an attempt at suicide. For the bad rap that romance comics so often get for having reinforced stereotypes and professing love as the ultimate achievement, it is important to note that the suicide attempt in this story is not by the lovesick protagonist, but by a character desperately trying to find her way in the world. I was actually pretty surprised at the turn of events in this story the first time I read it. I am so curious to know what readers at the time thought about such a mature theme, but I have been unable to find any evidence in the letter columns as of yet. So you tell me! Were you a bit shocked at this story as well?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - It's the Little Things

"Mad Mad Modes for Moderns"
Secret Hearts #120 (June 1967)
Illustrated by Tony Abruzzo
I hope you had a nice weekend! I thought I would start the week off with a little light fashion! Dig those accessories! I would so wear each and every single thing featured in this edition of "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" -- especially the footwear! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Many Inkers of Gene Colan!

Judging from comments and emails I have received from previous posts featuring Gene Colan art, I know there are quite a few fans of his who read this here blog! In light of that, I thought it would be fun to show a few examples of Colan's pencils that were inked by various other artists. Luckily, most of the romance stories from Marvel during the runs of My Love and Our Love Story were credited -- making most of these inker identifications straightforward. From what I can tell, most of Colan's 1960s DC romance work (and there is a lot of it!) was self-inked, including the first two examples here. Dig in and enjoy, and be sure to click on the individual pages to get a closer look!

Inks: Gene Colan
 "I Would Never Find Love!"
Girls' Romances #98 (January 1964)

Inks: Gene Colan
"Reach for Happiness!" Episode One
Secret Hearts #110 (March 1966) 

 Inks: Jim Mooney
"The Boy That Got Away!"
My Love #4 (March 1970)

Inks: Frank Giacoia
"You Can't Love Again!"
Our Love Story #4 (April 1970)

Inks: John Romita
"--But He's the Boy I Love!"
Our Love Story #5 (June 1970)

Inks: Dick Ayers
"I Loved You Once -- Remember?"
My Love # 9 (January 1971)

 Inks: Sal Buscema
"How Do We Know When It's Really Love?"
Our Love Story #24 (August 1973)

Out of these examples here, I personally like the Jim Mooney and John Romita inks the best. I am curious to know what you think! Whose inks in your opinion really make Colan's work shine? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

DC Serial Romance Story - Alex Toth's "20 Miles to Heartbreak" Part Three

Thanks for joining me today for the third installment of the Alex Toth/Vince Colletta rendered classic -- "20 Miles to Heartbreak!" Though the scans today come from the 1977 reprinting,* this particular episode first appeared in Secret Hearts #142 (March 1970). As you may remember, the second episode ended with quite the cliff-hanger involving a mysterious stranger showing up to the house of injured Melanie and her diabolical mother. It's been a while though, so be sure to catch up with part one here, and part two here!

On the splash page of the third episode
it is revealed that the uninvited stranger is none
other than Melanie's sister, Monica!

Monica is greeted with a seriously chilly reception from mother. Not only does she refuse to look at her first born, the girls' mother goes on to accuse Monica of acting like "a cheap dimestore girl." Ouch! 

During the awkward visit, the maid summons Mrs. Winters and her husband Roger.** Before leaving the sisters alone, Mrs. Winters is sure to remind Monica that she has gone to the devil. After the parting of the actual devil, the two sisters hug and weep in each other's arms. Monica wishes she could be in her mother's favor again, but reminds herself that "a mother's hate can be even stronger than mother's love!" Monica is out of the loop, so Melanie gets her up to speed on the latest occurrences, including her "alleged" abduction by Juan. Monica promises to help free Juan from jail and make the town bigots answer for their wrongs. Before Monica leaves, Melanie stops her to tell her the real reason she was running away in the first place -- her undying love for their stepfather, Roger. Monica just reassures her that she is going through a phase, and will soon grow out of it. 

After their visit, Monica goes to visit Roger's brother, John. He is an attorney and Monica is there to ask him to help talk her mother out of taking Juan Ricco to court for the false abduction allegations. But John says it is too late -- he has already been hired by Mr. and Mrs. Winters as Melanie's lawyer against Juan. Monica is furious that John doesn't care about the pursuit of justice.

Monica then accuses John of being just as prejudiced as the rest of the town. He is quick to assault her character by bringing up the conditions of her leaving town years earlier -- and for that, he gets a swift slap across the face. And because for no other reason than this is a romance comic, her slap is met with his lips. But Monica is not impressed and leaves his office with a slam of the door.

The trial starts the next day. One of the primary witnesses is told to step down by lawyer John after her weak testimony -- she did not see anything that concretely indicates that Juan hurt Melanie in any way. Mrs. Winters is furious, but he tells her that they are there to see that justice is served. It looks like Monica's visit had some impact on John after all!

After hours of listening to various allegations and testimonies, the judge decides that Juan is not guilty and drops the charges against him. Melanie gives Juan a congratulatory hug and at the same time, Melanie's fiancé -- Bill, stomps off. The episode ends with Monica making her way to leave the courtroom and John beckoning her to stay for a moment.

What will happen next?! Will we finally find out why Monica was run out of town in the first place? What in the world could John want to tell her? What happens to Melanie and newly innocent Juan? Answers to all this and more -- next time, my friends! 

*Scans for this installment are from the reprint issue, Young Love #124 (March 1977)

** For some unexplained reason, a few surnames of characters are altered in this issue from the previous two -- Mr. and Mrs. Bryan (the mother and stepfather) are changed to Mr. and Mrs. Winters, and Juan Perez becomes Juan Ricco. My only explanation is that either a time crunch affected the scriptwriter's memory, or that this third installment was written by someone other than Barbara Friedlander. Small mistakes, but no doubt the most observant of readers caught them!