Thursday, June 28, 2012

Groovy DC House Ad

House Ad from
Young Romance #158
(February/March 1969)

This house ad from DC is sooooooooo groovy! The flowers! The fonts! The colors! I can't love it enough!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time Travel Tuesdays - Flight to Happiness

Why hello! I realize it has been quite some time since I last shared a Time Travel Tuesday story with you! Today's story, "Flight to Happiness" with art by George Klein (Grand Comics Database) is from Prize's Personal Love #1 (vol. 3) (September/October 1959). "Flight to Happiness" starts out rather unhappily actually for stewardess Sheilah Scott when she discovers that the annoying and persistent millionaire -- Rodney Jefferson Drake, is on her flight yet again.

Time and time again, Drake takes her route seemingly just to pester her. During the flight, Sheilah takes refuge in the control room, where the pilot (Steve) promises to "tell that bird where to get off!"

Just when Sheilah thinks she has her passenger under control, she is brought a letter from a little boy who was given a dollar for his delivery services. You can probably guess whom the letter was from...

When they land in Paris, Sheilah tries to unwind by heading back to her hotel room. But, she can't escape or ignore her needy passenger as Drake owns the hotel she is staying in. After he inundates her room with flowers and jewelry, she calls him up and gives him back the diamond bracelet he snuck into one of the bouquets.

That evening after putting the incidents with Drake out of her mind, Sheilah goes out with Steve to enjoy some Parisian night life. Just as she remarks that it is nice to be away from "a certain obnoxious pest," Steve points to the man sitting behind her -- Drake! He continues to follow Sheilah and Steve, even to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

When she returns to her hotel room, Sheilah is seriously pissed. The last thing she needs is to see Drake. The only respite she gets is a night's sleep, because when she boards the plane the next morning she discovers that Drake has bought out all the tickets -- just to have her all to himself. Steve overhears Drake harassing Sheilah yet again and puts the controls on automatic (unbeknownst to Sheilah he took off without a co-pilot) to put him in his place. Just as Steve starts wailing on Drake, a storm brews in the sky. During the fight, Steve hits his head and is rendered unconscious. Without a co-pilot to tame the vessel, Drake springs into action and steers them to safety. Recognizing the gravity and seriousness of the situation, Drake finally calms down and says he won't bother Sheilah any longer.

Before landing back at the airport in Paris, Steve comes to and takes over to land the plane. Completely dejected, Drake slumps back in his seat and says to his crush, "Don't mind me, Miss Scott. Just pretend the passenger section is empty... like my head." Upon their arrival, Drakes slinks off. The End!

Just kidding! Of course doesn't end like that! Naturally, once Drake backs off, Sheilah is left to wonder if he really is the one for her. And what do you know? He is!

All in all, a cute and comical late 1950s romance story with some pretty entertaining dialogue!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sex! Readers Write for Advice on More Than Just Romance!

Most (ok, pretty much all) of the 1960s and '70s romance comics are on the chaste side. Little more than kissing ever occurs, giving the illusion that courtship of that time did not include anything more than a bit of necking. Well, that isn't necessarily true. We have to remember that romance comics weren't a hard and fast documentation of what was going on in youth culture, but rather, a reactionary attempt by an older generation to guide youth to what was considered normal and healthy. That and the fact that the Comics Code wouldn't have allowed for overt depictions of sex! However, it does appear from the following two advice columns that it was definitely on the minds of readers, and they felt romance comics to be a safe and trustworthy forum to ask their questions regarding when sex should occur in their young lives.

"As Jane Ford Sees It"
Young Love #84
(January/February 1971)

Our first inquisitive reader -- 16 year old "Very Victorian," asks Jane Ford how far a girl has to go to be considered "with it." Jane responds that it seems she is doing well on the dating scene, so why give out any "unnecessary free samples?" Jane also remarks at the end, "Almost every guy has to try a few things with a girl, but it's still up to her as to whether or not he succeeds!"

Another reader, "Troubled Arthur" (yes, sometimes guys wrote into the advice columns!) picks the brain of Carol Andrews as to an issue he had with Tina -- the girl he wants to ask to marry him. While away on an overnight trip to the country, Tina refused to stay in the same room with him. Carol Andrews is impressed by how Tina handled the situation and encourages Arthur to put a ring on her finger, citing that that type of virtue (in 1971) is hard to find.

"To You... from Carol Andrews"
Falling in Love #123
(May 1971)

What is your reaction to these? How do you think DC's editorial staff did in answering the readers' questions? I know many people overlook text pages for the allure of gorgeous illustrations, but I find these absolutely thrilling! In just a few short sentences we are given a window into a world of insecurities and doubts that the sequentially illustrated romance stories don't give us. I can't help but wonder if the editorial offices of the romance publishers weren't flooded by these types of questions, only for a few select ones to make it into the hands of readers, and ultimately, us...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Romance Comics Depicted in Romance Comics!

I don't know about you, but I love the house ads of the romance comics! Many of them depicted other titles, as well as upcoming storylines and features. They always seemed to capture the iconicness of the genre effortlessly. Today, I have for you a few examples of a more indirect form of advertising that almost borders on the subliminal. Take a look at the panels and pages to see romance comic books purchased, read, and discussed by romance comic book characters!

Pencils by Gene Colan
Falling in Love #75 Cover*
(May 1965)

"He Only Used My Love!"
Pencils by Win Mortimer
Falling in Love #93
(August 1967)

"Dumb Bunny"
Girls' Love Stories #164
(December 1971)

"No Kisses for Kitty!"
Pencils by Tony Abruzzo
Falling in Love #76
(July 1965)

"How Do You Find a Boy of Your Own?"
Pencils by Gene Colan, Inks by Sal Buscema
My Love #6
(July 1970)

Falling in Love #104 went a step further by actually working the romance titles into the main plot of the story. In "The Truth About Men," leading lady Noelle writes in to DC advice columnist, Ann Martin for advice. As you will see, she even received a reply from the love guru!

"The Truth About Men"
Pencils by Ric Estrada
Falling in Love #104
(January 1969)

Notice that in each example, the romance comics worked into the panels were different titles than the title the panel appears in. What great (and not to mention free!) advertising! Pretty ingenious marketing if you ask me!

*Cover from the Grand Comics Database

Monday, June 18, 2012

Because You Demanded It! All's Fair!

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for your most favorite romance comic book cover fail! From the comments, it appeared that the majority of readers wanted to know what could possibly explain the absence of the lower half of the above pictured lovebirds! So today, I have for you "All's Fair" from Romantic Story #115 (October 1971) penciled by Charles Nicholas and inked by Vincent Alascia -- an artistic duo whose work frequented the Charlton romance comics.

Our story starts with a highly educated Miss Patti Newton, secretary to H.J. Adams -- the most powerful pharmaceutical sales manager in all the land -- or at least at Ribbs Inc.

Patti's days at work are not only interesting and fulfilling, but filled with plenty of eye candy. Both her boss, Mr. Adams and red-headed salesman, Farley Moore are quite foxy. Patti confides in her cousin/roommate, Eleanor, that she has a crush on both.

Patti worries a bit that Mr. Adams is a bit too stern. One of Patti's co-workers, a matronly woman named Mrs. Smith, explains that he is just trying to seem more mature and dignified.

It isn't long before Patty starts dating Farley. Without giving it too much thought, Patti lets information slip that had been told to her in confidence by Mr. Adams. Farley takes the free advice and uses it to his advantage to get ahead in the company.

Patti may be without legs on the cover, but she definitely isn't without a conscience.

Guilt overwhelms her, and Patti decides to step down from her job. Just as she does, Mr. Adams reveals that he been planting information for her to give Farley all along because he knew they were hanging out. Understandably, Patti is furious and quits. When she tells Farley that she came clean to Mr. Adams, Farley calls her a "real idiot," and exclaims that "maybe it's a good thing you are leaving!" Farley doesn't realize that he is the idiot in the eyes of Mr. Adams.

After a few days of moping around over the loss of her job and her dignity, Eleanor convinces Patti to dress up and make some dinner for them. Little does Patti know that her cousin had invited Mr. Adams -- err, Hank over to apologize. Hank brings her flowers and lets her know that Farley will be transferred to the Pittsburgh office.

With Farley far away in the Steel City, Hank can express his true feelings for Patti. He admits that he is a "stuffed shirt" in the office, but he turns out to be a fun guy outside the workplace. He helps Patti find a new job as a secretary and they frequently spend their lunch hours together. Farley is gone, but not forgotten. Definitely not from my mind, anyhow! That smirk face attached to a legless torso still haunts...

"All's Fair" ends like many of the workplace romance stories do, with secretary and former boss getting together after the boss recognizes that their prior employer/employee status made it impossible for them to date. Quite a common theme in the romance comics, but this one portrays Patti as quite strong and level-headed, motivated by hard-work and doing the right thing. The bizarre cover of this issue really goes to show that you can't always judge a comic book by its cover!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wedding Gifts 'round the World!

"Wedding Gifts 'round the World!"
Falling in Love #74
(April 1965)

Characters of any ethnic diversity were not really present in the romance comics before the early '70s, save for some scarce filler material such as this "Wedding Gifts 'round the World!" This particular page from Falling in Love #74 (April 1965) educates readers on wedding gifts and customs ranging from seal skins of the "Eskimos," to 16th century loving cups of the English, and Norwegian wooden spoon bracelets.

When I was a kid, I would spend countless hours reading and looking at the pictures in the Childcraft children's encyclopedia sets at my grandparents' house that had belonged to my mother when she was little. I have to say that the above page (however accurate or inaccurate it may be) really takes me back to that!

On another note! If you haven't already (and thanks to those of you who already have!) be sure to 1.) head on over and "like" the Sequential Crush Facebook page, and 2.) vote on your most (un)favorite cover from last Friday's post! I will pick the cover winner sometime tomorrow early afternoon, so you still have a little time to mull it over!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday (Un)Favorites - Romance Comic Book Cover Fails!

If anyone loves romance comics and is willing to stick up for them, its me. Once in a while though, there is a cover that is so ridiculous that I just can't help but chuckle. Chalk it up to a rushed schedule for the artist or simply a creative idea gone astray, these five covers are pretty nuts and be counted among some of the covers I like the least!


This first one by Jay Scott Pike is crazy! That kid's chompers! They'll get ya!

Girls' Love Stories #179
(September/October 1973)

At first glance, this cover isn't soooo bad -- but take a closer look. What are those goofy guys doing back there? I don't know about you, but I am also mystified by the brunette's crazy eyebrows and the fact that they are so high up on her forehead!

Our Love Story #11
(June 1971)

Nothing says romance like severed torsos in matching sweaters!

Romantic Story #115
(October 1971)

Holy mouthful of mustache, Batman!

Teen Confessions #85
(September 1974)

It's not that wedgie-picking isn't attractive, but when first meeting your best friend's boyfriend whom you are planning to steal? Come on, Marcia!

Young Love #89
(November 1971)

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of some romance comic book cover "fails!" If you did, let me know in the comments section which was your favorite! Next week I will post the winning cover's corresponding interior story!

Credits: 1.) Girls' Love Stories #179 (September/October 1973) Pencils: Jay Scott Pike, Inks: Vince Colletta 2.) Our Love Story #11 (June 1971) Pencils: John Buscema, Inks: John Romita 3.) Romantic Story #115 (October 1971) 4.) Teen Confessions #85 (September 1974) 5.) Young Love #89 (November 1971) Pencils: Don Heck, Inks: Dick Giordano

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happenings - Swimsuits!

Secret Hearts #139
(October 1969)

'Tis the season for swimsuits! Well, sorta. The weather has actually been quite chilly near me, but I hope that summer in your area is in full swing! Not sure who the artist is on this "Happenings!" piece from Secret Hearts #139 (October 1969), but I really dig it. It looks a bit like Elizabeth Berube's work, but when I interviewed her a few months ago, she said that this piece was definitely not her work. Regardless, it's a fun one!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Career Options as Portrayed by Popular Advertising and Romance Comics

This weekend while catching up on my blog reading, I came across the above advertisement for Playtex tampons over at Retrospace. The overarching message of the 1971 ad, "women just like you," along with its imagery of nurses, stewardesses, models, and college girls, got me thinking about the portrayal of career women in romance comics who very often fall into these same categories. It is possible to read romance comics from the '60s and '70s and get the impression that these particular career paths were the only ones available to women. Charlton however, challenged that notion with a little featurette titled "Choosing a Career" from their workplace oriented title, Career Girl Romances. Here are two discussing educational training, salaries, workload, and benefits for the occupations of engineer and dietitian.

"Choosing a Career - Engineer"
Career Girl Romances

(June 1970)

"Choosing a Career - Dietitian"
Career Girl Romances #73
(February 1973)

Though women were pigeonholed by advertising and media to fulfill certain societal roles (often of the super sexy and ultra-feminine caretaker variety) it is refreshing to see that Charlton made an effort through these columns to broaden their readers' horizons.