Monday, August 13, 2012

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

Not too long ago, I said that I would post the serial story, "20 Miles to Heartbreak" starring sisters, Melanie and Monica Winters -- don't worry, I didn't forget! Today I have for you the first episode of the "soul-searing story" which first appeared in Young Love #78 (January/February 1970). The four-part series was spread out between Young Love and Secret Hearts, and was written by Barbara Friedlander, penciled by Alex Toth, and inked by Vince Colletta. The series was reprinted later on in 1976. Since I haven't been able to add Young Love #78 to my collection, today's scans come from the reprint, Young Love #122 (November 1976).

Young Love #78
(January/February 1970)
Cover image from the
Grand Comics Database

"20 Miles to Heartbreak" contains all the sorts of twists and turns that one would expect in a serial romance story. We are introduced to leading lady -- Melanie, on the splash page with a catchy blurb:

"Manchester -- a town like yours! Melanie Winters,
a girl like you... a girl trapped between her own dreams of love
and her mother's grasping 'plans' for her future..."

Just what are Melanie's mother's plans for her anyhow? Well, her main goal is to get Melanie married off to the respectable and wealthy, Bill Anderson. She does not want Melanie ending up shamed like her sister, Monica.

Mrs. Bryan instructs Melanie to keep a hold on Bill. As she sends her youngest daughter to bed, Maria (the maid) passes by. Mrs. Bryan continues to show off her stellar personality by reprimanding Maria for her for her lack of English skills, as well as for neglecting to wear a robe. Melanie heads to bed, but ponders how she can feign loving Bill when she already is in love with someone. Who is she in love with you ask? Keep reading to find out!

The next day, Melanie's best friend Julie comes over. The two sit and chat about love and marriage. Julie coolly explains how she gave up on dreams when she met her well-off fiancé, Jim. As they chat, Maria swings by with a book. Melanie encourages Maria's efforts to learn English, while Julie laughs behind her back. It is obvious that Melanie's life is filled with pretty vile people.

Later that evening, Melanie goes out with Bill as instructed. During their date, Bill goes off to make a phone call. While Melanie waits, a handsome fellow by the name of Juan Perez introduces himself. Bill comes back, sees the scene, and immediately takes action by roughing up Juan.

Melanie arrives home from the date understandably upset. When she walks in the door she is greeted by her stepfather, Roger. We are quickly let in on why Melanie can't love Bill... she loves Roger! Bet you didn't see that one coming!

The first part of the DC love saga ends with Melanie packing her bags for New York to see if sister Monica can put her mind at ease. As Melanie makes her escape, she runs into none other than the bandleader, Juan!

Well, that's all for part one! Does "20 Miles to Heartbreak" and its serious nature intrigue? I would love to hear what you think!


  1. I was the editor of Young Love when this story was reprinted. I thought it was great then and I'll enjoy rereading it here.

    1. This issue is particularly good! Lots of great one-pagers and featurettes, as well as some really great stories -- this one included. I don't know if you remember, but they referred to you as a "punk" on the little editorial page! :)

  2. I remember...because I wrote the page. :)

  3. Nice post on "20 Miles to heartbreak"! Any chance of posting the entire pages of the story rather than panels? Great blog as well.

    1. Hi Teddy! Glad you enjoyed it and I hope you will tune in for the other installments. I usually don't post whole stories here at Sequential Crush. One of the reasons is because I feel that summarizing the stories gives me more of a chance to interact with readers! I do hope that someday DC will collect all the serials in a trade. With the recent Young Love TPB perhaps there is some hope!

  4. Spectacular: a complicated love triangle (or perhaps even rectangle?) plus gorgeous art by Alex Toth. Looking forward to the remaining installments.

  5. Alex Toth women never looked so good as when inked by Colletta. Same with Kirby women, pretty homely until you add Vinnie to the mix.

    Nice blog.

    1. Thank you, Steve -- I appreciate you saying so! I know a lot of people aren't fans of Colletta, but he certainly excels inking Toth!