Monday, April 30, 2012

1970s Danish Romance Comics

A few weeks ago I came across a small stash of 1970s Danish romance comics in a used bookshop, and I just had to share them with you! Though American romance comics will always be #1 in my heart, stumbling upon these was pretty exciting! Titles I found include, Amor, Starlet, Love, and Jackie. If you are familiar with British romance comics, you will notice that some of these (not sure if all) are just the British comics translated to Danish. Though most of these digest-type romance comics are comprised primarily of one story, they do contain much of the same filler material that make the American romance comics so fun -- house ads, advice columns, recipes, and fashion tips.

The illustrated covers of Amor really caught my eye!
Amor #331 (1977) and Amor #354 (1978)

Love #7 (1979) was the only issue
I found that was in full color.


Just a few examples of the black and white interiors from the other issues I picked up...

"Pigen i Midten"
("The Girl in the Middle")
from Amor #110 (1969)  

 "Altid det Bedste"
("Always the Best") 
from Amor #331 (1977)

"En Uskyldig Spøg"
("An Innocent Joke") 
from Jackie #28 (1972)

Back cover house ad for Amor and another romance title, Min Melodi. They don't get much more gorgeous than this! 

Pretty cool, huh? Not sure if my Danish will get to the level anytime soon so that I can actually read them, but the gorgeous covers and illustrations were enough to persuade me to dish out a few Danish Kroner to add them to my collection!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Young Romance Smorgasbord!

Hello! I was perusing a few issues of Young Romance the other day, and I came across the following pages in issue #129 (April/May 1964). They are all quite delectable, so be sure to click on each to take a closer look!

My portrait sketched
by John Romita? 
Yes, please!

 I don't know about where you are,
but I could definitely use one of these
raincoats this drizzly April!
I love everything about this back cover ad!
The colors, the illustrations, the prizes themselves!
I wonder if anyone ever sold the  228 boxes of
greeting cards required to win all the prizes?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sailboats in the Ghetto - "A World Apart" - DC's Cautionary Tale about Racial Prejudice

I am not gonna lie -- I was drawn to purchase this issue of Heart Throbs (issue #140 - April 1972) primarily because of the rad sailboat sweater sported by the female lead. Unfortunately, said sweater never makes an appearance in the feature story "A World Apart," but I can assure you, it is still a very good one worthy of our exploration nonetheless!

On the splash page, we are introduced to Cathy and Brad under the most dire of circumstances. A fire blazes, threatening to overtake Brad's family furniture store. As the couple run towards the chaos, Cathy yells at Brad for failing to see what his prejudice would do. How did this awful situation come to be, you ask? First we must travel back to the first time that Brad and Cathy met...

"If you're one of those people who
judges others
by the color of their skins,
perhaps I can
make you understand..."

Cathy and Brad's initial meeting with one another was not a meeting that involved fireworks and roses. It was actually pretty awful. Cathy Webb, a young and ambitious social worker confronts furniture store owner, Brad Talman about his dealings with his customers from the "ghetto." Cathy reminds Brad that his father was respected in the community and he should act respectable as a result. Brad tells her that his father was a pushover who let his customers take advantage of his kind ways.

"All Brad could see was - Black skin.
I knew that it would cause trouble..."

Brad admits, he doesn't like his clientele. Cathy convinces Brad to let her show him the ghetto that evening. After their tour of the community centers and the different areas of the neighborhood, Brad still isn't convinced to trust people he feels "have no morals, no sense of obligation."

Cathy agrees to a formal date with Brad to further convince him that his way of thinking is dangerous and wrong.

Naturally, the date goes great (this is a romance comic, after all) and Cathy falls in love with Brad. All seems to be going well until one day when the furniture of a family is repossessed by Brad's store. Furious, Cathy gives Brad a piece of her mind. Brad pleads with her to not let "them" come between their love for one another. Just as Cathy reminds Brad that despite the color of their skin, their neighbors are people too -- a brick is hurled through the storefront window. Brad vows to put the Dragons (a gang whom he believes to be the culprits of the attack) in jail.

Not long after the brick incident, an elderly couple meet with Cathy to try to dissuade Brad from garnishing their wages to cover the payments they are behind in paying. Cathy confronts Brad about the situation, and it isn't long before their entire relationship becomes a constant feud. It also isn't long before another act of vandalism is committed against Talman Home Furnishings.

When a group of men from the neighborhood come to apologize for the break in that occurred by the hands of vigilantes, Brad refuses to accept. For Cathy, Brad's behavior to the men is the last straw and Brad makes her choose -- him or "them." Cathy makes her choice, and leaves Brad standing alone in his battered store.

Cathy knows that more destruction is on the brink and tries to warn Brad, despite their split. Sensing something, she heads to the store just as it is being bombed by the Dragons. Knowing Brad is inside, Cathy rushes to the scene.

Brad makes it out unscathed, but his store isn't so lucky. As the flames continue to burn, so does Brad's hatred for the people in the ghetto. Finally, Cathy convinces the same men who had attempted to make amends with Brad earlier to take action.

Risking their own lives, the men head into the burning building to pull out what they can. When Brad tries to thank them, one of the men tells him that he doesn't have to -- they didn't do it for him.

"We did it for her - and for your father.
For a man we respected who respected us!"

Brad realizes that Cathy had been right all along and vows to show the community compassion and respect from that day forth, just as he was shown in his time of need.

Not what you would expect from a typical romance comic, eh? Cathy is portrayed as a strong woman, capable of choosing her convictions over romance and also, as an agent of social change. Though the storyline is maybe a little hokey by today's standards, "A World Apart" gets its intended point across concerning the eradication of prejudice. And although dear Cathy never did wear that sailboat sweater, I hope you still enjoyed this important cautionary tale from DC!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Disco Beat + Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays by Jill Taylor and Tony Abruzzo!

"Hi, pussycats!"

I hope your week is off to a good start! I have for you today, a "You Can Be Beautiful!" editorial from Falling in Love #88 (January 1967) that will make you wish you had a time machine! In it, Jill Taylor tells readers about a newly opened discotheque in New York City -- the Cheetah. Boasting a dance floor, TV room, a library, and movie theaters, the club sounds like it was quite the place! Jill tells readers what types of fashions would be acceptable and though the attire is pretty much "anything goes," Jill recommends a "short-short little baby doll dress," and bell-bottoms in "wild paisley or stripes."

The Cheetah also had a boutique!

"The modes are the greatest
and the absolute wildest you can imagine."

Sure looks like it!
1966 Cheetah Night Club Boutique New York vintage photo Discotheque
1966 photo of the Cheetah's boutique,
as mentioned
in Jill Taylor's column.

Interestingly, the text of "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from the very same issue was credited to Jill Taylor (along with Tony Abruzzo as artist) in the lower right-hand corner. If I do manage to wrangle up that time machine to visit the Cheetah, I will be sure to swoop into the DC offices to see if Jill was a real person or merely someone's pen name!

"Mad Mad Modes for Moderns"
Falling in Love #88
(January 1967)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Young Motherhood in DC's "Enter Marriage... Exit Romance!"

I am always intrigued by the '60s and '70s romance stories that involve young mothers, and there are actually quite a few. One, "Enter Marriage... Exit Romance!" from Young Romance #159 (April/May 1969) (with art that appears to be by Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta) features the plight of new wife and mom, Maria.

Awoken by the alarm clock, Maria is shaken from a frightful dream in which she and husband Billy are kissing passionately one moment, and torn apart the next. 5 AM has arrived, and with it, the responsibilities of the day.

Billy kisses their newborn and heads off to work. Though she knows Billy is a good father, Maria is saddened by his casual goodbye to her.

As the morning continues, Maria does her housework. Washing dishes, scrubbing floors, and folding laundry doesn't thrill Maria in the slightest. As she watches a show on television she reminisces what her and Billy's love life was like, before the drudgery of every day life and caring for a baby set in.

Maria takes the baby out for a stroll to try to get in a better mood, but seeing a pair of lovebirds just makes her feel worse. She and Billy had what they had... before.

Maria loves her daughter, but she can't help but feel some resentment towards her.

When Billy arrives home that evening, Maria attempts to give him a taste of their romantic past. Billy resists her attempts at romance, citing fatigue and hunger. Billy is content with their situation, but Maria longs for more. When she volunteers to head back to work so Billy doesn't have to work so hard, she is quickly shot down -- Maria's place is in the home.

After her family goes to sleep, Maria flips through a photo album of her and Billy from when they were dating. She cries to herself:

"What's happened to our romance, Billy?
Was everything that happened before we were married --
just a dream? And everything that's
happening now -- real?"

Time passes and nothing changes at home. Maria starts to look for thrills elsewhere, and one evening goes out bowling with her girlfriends. Maria has a great time and convinces the girls to stay out late -- 3 AM late!

The elation of the evening quickly vanishes when a neighbor alerts Maria that Billy had to rush the baby to the hospital. Maria feels terrible that she went out with her friends instead of staying at home.

For hours, Maria prays that their baby will live. Thankfully, Dina pulls through and it is in those hours at the hospital that Maria "...changed from child to woman." Maria tells Billy that she has learned her lesson -- love is stronger than romance.

Besides the effective art of "Enter Marriage... Exit Romance!", I think Maria's hesitation towards motherhood is believable, as are her feelings concerning the downward spiral that is her love life. I think many of us have definitely been there and can relate.

From today's perspective, we may be inclined to think that Billy is a jerk for not allowing Maria to work outside the home and that her guilt over her evening out is over-the-top. However, it is important to remember that this story was published in 1969 and Second-wave feminism was still making its way into the national consciousness. As we can see with this particular story, romance comics were clearly a reflection of the ongoing pressures experienced by mid-century women.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Spangle Sparkle and Glow!

How about some
"Attack Boots" this fine Monday?
Secret Hearts #128
(June 1968)
Tony Abruzzo

"Gobs and gobs of delightful fake hair! Heavenly!"