Thursday, May 31, 2012

Be Careful What You Dish For - Creig Flessel's Hot Fudge Sundae Blues

"The Hot Fudge Sundae Blues"
Illustrated by Creig Flessel
Young Love #113
(December 1974/January 1975)

This rather late contribution to the romance comics proclaims the virtues of watching one's weight and the dangers associated with letting one's self go. No doubt important advice when trying to fit into super snug, hip-hugging bell-bottoms!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Romance - "Love Pass Me By!"

In honor of New York's Fleet Week and Memorial Day, I have for you today "Love Pass Me By!" from Young Romance #166 (June/July 1970) with art by Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta. This short three-page story chronicles Jeannie's two brief romances with navy men, Bill and Bob. Enjoy!

Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Long Running Romance Comic Book Serial "Reach for Happiness!" - Episode Six

If you caught my post from a couple of weeks ago on the recurring characters of the DC romance comics, then you may be familiar with the face of Karen Wilder Summers of the "Reach for Happiness!" saga. Here I have for you the sixth installment from Secret Hearts #115 (October 1966). If you are just joining us, be sure to catch up on the first five episodes to get in the loop -- one, two, three, four, and five!

Last we checked in on the crew from Danville Corners, Karen had just been told earth-shattering news -- her old beau, Dr. Greg Marsh and rival, Rita are tying the knot. The news came just as Karen had worked up enough courage to tell Greg once and for all that she was still in love with him.
Greg leaves the room after the announcement, leaving the two women to glare harshly at one another. Karen is broken, and Rita is clearly not pleased with her presence. Karen makes a run for it and vows to never see either one of them again.

Karen's promise to herself doesn't last long, however. Rita chases after her, and begs Karen to go to a soda shop to chat. In what can only be awkward for Karen, Rita goes on and on about her unhappy childhood and teenage years. Karen inquires as to why Rita is opening up to her. Rita tells Karen that she has no one else to tell these memories to and begins to cry. Whether genuine or part of a manipulation tactic, Rita's tears garner Karen's sympathies.

Rita then goes on to try to ease Karen's pain over losing Greg by questioning whether Karen actually loves Greg or if she just misses her deceased husband -- movie star, Frankie Summers. Though Karen suspects Rita is toying with her emotions, warm feelings begin to appear and ultimately the girls part with a sense of calm about one another.

After her encounter with Karen, Rita decides to go visit her father to tell him the big news. He is very excited that his little girl will be marrying a rich doctor. Rita reminds him that she is marrying Greg purely for love, but she does admit that the money and status will be nice perks.

After the emotionally exhausting day, Rita heads home. Instead of peace and quiet, she is greeted by Ray Silva who is there to try to win her back. When she tells Ray of her engagement to Greg he is shocked and tries to talk her out of it. When talking doesn't work, Ray goes in to kiss her and is met with a swift smack to the face. Ray leaves dejected, and Rita begins to doubt herself. Perhaps she does owe Ray her affections? Rita quickly snaps out of it and promptly calls the town newspaper to arrange for an engagement announcement.

The next morning, Karen's sister Peggy comes across the engagement announcement in the paper and shows it to her. Karen understandably is overcome with emotion and decides to go on a walk to get some air.

While out, things don't improve for Karen when she stumbles upon a large cardboard cutout of her deceased husband, Frankie. Though it is just an advertisement for a revival of one of his movies, Karen is struck by its realness. She laments to the paper face about her current romantic situation and wonders what Frankie would think of her now.

Just as the DC editors asked their readers to "tell us how you are enjoying this continuing drama," I am curious to know -- what do you think of the "Reach for Happiness!" story arc? Would you like me to post more episodes in the future?

Side note! You may notice that Karen's married surname goes from "Summers" in the first few episodes to "Sommers" in this one. She is also referred to as Karen Wilder and Karen Sommers in various episodes. The inconsistency really speaks to the rushed and temporal nature of comic books!

Thanks again to Pat over at
Silver Age Comics for this episode's scans!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Swing Zilchy 9 to 5!

"Mad Mad Modes for Moderns"
Illustrated by Tony Abruzzo

Girls' Romances
(January 1967)

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Romance Comic Villains Extraordinaire - Mothers! Young Romance's "My Mother... My Rival!"

I hope all you mothers out there had a great Mother's Day yesterday! In a bit of a belated celebration, I have for you today, "My Mother... My Rival!" from Young Romance #157 (December 1968/January 1969). The kickin' cover comes from Nick Cardy, and the interior story features pencils by John Rosenberger.

Note of warning! If you experience a little deja vu from this story, fear not! "My Mother... My Rival!" is quite similar to another DC romance story, "My Mother, the Mantrap" that I posted back in December. Moms make terrific romance comic book villains -- obviously ;)

Tina is terrified that her young, beautiful, and hip mother (who insists on being called Fay) will steal her boyfriend, Allan away from her. For Tina, her mother's attractive and coy nature is the stuff of nightmares.

Terrified of losing Allan, Tina decides it is best to keep him away from her home (and by default, her mother). One day Allan confronts Tina about his never being invited over and questions if she thinks he is some kind of leper or something. Tina brushes Allan's fears aside, and reluctantly invites him over one afternoon with a few other friends.

Tina hopes that her mother isn't home for the visit, but naturally -- Fay is there and ready to party!

Fay only leaves the dance floor when Tina's father comes home from work. She lets Tina's friends know that they are welcome to come over for some "groovy dance music" anytime. Tina is of course, mortified. Her state of panic is only exacerbated when Allan announces upon his departure, "I have to tell you about your mom! She's wild! She's so boss! Moves me, baby, she's one of us!" Eeeeeeppppp!

Things just get worse for poor Tina. One following evening, Allan goes over to Tina's to pick her up for their date to the movies. Fay insists that they have plenty of time to sit down for some of her freshly baked cookies. Tina seethes with anger as Allan relentlessly compliments Fay on her baking skills. To add insult to injury, Allan exclaims, "Say Tina -- it's too bad you can't cook like your mother -- you'd wind me around your little finger!" Ouch!!!

But that isn't the worst of it! After Fay pouts a bit over being left home for the evening while her husband bowls, Allan invites Fay to join them at the movies. Awkward!!!

The last straw for Tina is when Fay holds a party after the school play for Tina and her fellow castmates. Unable to go on watching her mother do the Watusi with her boyfriend, Tina flips. She runs out into the night rain and keeps running. Finally, she returns home to her bed and sobs herself to the brink of sleep. But just before she drifts off completely, Fay swoops in and holds her baby girl close. She apologizes for her age-inappropriate actions and vows to remember that she is Tina's mother -- first and foremost.

Though Tina fears a reemergence of Fay's behavior the next time Allan visits, she is pleasantly surprised when Fay announces she will be joining her husband's bowling club. After a knowing hug between mother and daughter, the parental units depart and Tina finally gets some alone time with Allan.

Oh, romance comics! We love you!
Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest Post - Justin Bleep on Iconic Covers (Updated: R.I.P., Tony DeZuniga)

UPDATE: I was extremely saddened upon waking up this morning to hear that Tony DeZuniga passed away not long after I published this guest post. Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends. Not only will Tony be remembered for characters such as Jonah Hex and the Black Orchid, he will also be remembered for his stunning contribution to the romance genre. Hopefully this post now serves as a fitting tribute for Mr. DeZuniga...

(Original post) If you were reading Sequential Crush last spring then you may remember a guest post by Justin Bleep. This evening, I have another one for you by Justin! He actually wrote this a few months back, but it seems especially fitting now since thankfully, Tony DeZuniga is recovering from his illness of a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

A comic book cover is something remarkable. It serves a much higher purpose than the cover of a book, whether that book is a piece of historic literature or a contemporary fiction novel. The comic book cover’s utility is more accurately compared with a movie poster or teaser. But once the cover has succeeded in its intention and the buyer has removed the book from among its competition on the newsstand, a new purpose begins—one which serves a far deeper, and much more human function. A comic book cover becomes a sentimental artifact.

Specifically, a comic book cover can remind us of the enjoyment experienced when reading the book. Or more generally, it can embody an icon. We can take for our example Fantastic Four #1, The Amazing Spider-Man #122, Uncanny X-Men #141 or Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. And icons of horror are not limited to Vault of Horror #12, Haunt of Fear #17 or Tales from the Crypt #46. However, what is regrettably absent for fans of the romance comic genre is a consensus on the classic romance cover.

Now, when thinking about romance covers, two immediately come to mind: Matt Baker’s Giant Comics Editions #12 and Super DC Giant #S-21.

Giant Comics Editions #12 cover via
The Comicartville Library

Super DC Giant #S-21 via
the Grand Comics Database

But what about the many issues of Young Love and Young Romance—or Girls’ Love Stories and Girls’ Romances? Are there any covers which break the monotony in a long series, cover after cover? Is there any book within the romance comic genre similar to Witching Hour #13?—a cover which is simply an icon of the craftsmanship of the genre.

To fill this void I name the following three covers:
Falling in Love #122
(April 1971)

Girls’ Romances #155
(March 1971)

Young Love #85
(March/April 1971)

These amazing images are exceptional on two accounts: 1) the uniqueness of style, and 2) the close span of time in which they appear. Because of these two conditions I am led to believe that these three beautifully crafted covers are from the hands of the same artist. But who? An obvious guess is either Tony DeZuniga or perhaps even Gray Morrow. Heritage is consistent in attributing these to DeZuniga, here and here.

In any case, these three covers are a testament to how truly remarkable the aesthetic of the romance book genre can be.

Thanks, Justin! I love these three covers as well. May I also nominate Falling in Love #121 as one of these iconic covers? They are so dynamic and really set romance apart from other comic book genres. What do you think, romance fans? Do you like these three covers? Are there any covers that you propose embody the essence of romance comics?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Recurring Characters of the DC Romance Comics!

Have you ever wondered which characters in the DC romance comics appeared more than once? If so, then today is your lucky day! Below is a visual list I have compiled of the most prominent recurring (female) characters in the DC romance universe. This list is by no means conclusive, but I would say that these are the primary characters which appear at least a couple times each -- either in self-contained stories or multi-issue serials.

1.) Wendy Winthrop from "Wendy Winthrop, Television Model," Girls' Romances #99 and #100

2.) Penelope Potter from "The Mis-Adventures of Penelope Potter" in issues of Secret Hearts and Young Love

3.) Bonnie Taylor from Young Romance #126 through #139

4.) Page Peterson from "Do's and Dont's of Dating" in issues of Girls' Love Stories, Secret Hearts, and Young Romance

5.) Betty from "Betty's Boutique" in issues of Girls' Romances

6.) Mary Robin, R.N. from "The Private Diary of Mary Robin, R.N.," Young Love #39 through #52

7.) Lisa St. Claire from "The Life and Loves of Lisa St. Claire," Young Love #68 and #70 through #78

8.)Jewel and April Heywood from "Confessions," Girls' Love Stories #147 through #152

9.) Cindy the Salesgirl from issues of Falling in Love, Girls' Love Stories, Girls' Romances, and Secret Hearts

10.) Karen Wilder Summers from "Reach for Happiness!" Secret Hearts #110 through #138

11.) Melanie and Monica Winters from "20 Miles to Heartbreak," Young Love #78, Secret Hearts #141 and #142, Young Love #79

12.) April O'Day from "April O'Day, Hollywood Starlet," Girls' Love Stories #104 through #113

13.) Marian Tyler, Sandy Simms, and Chris Mason from "3 Girls -- Their Lives... Their Loves," Heart Throbs #102 through #123