Monday, December 30, 2013

As We Head Into 2014!

Hi everyone! I know I'm a little early, but I want to wish you a Happy New Year! I was hoping to do a more thorough "year in review" type post, but sadly, my grandmother passed away the other day, so I will be with family over the next few days.

Before I sign off for a week or so, I do want to tell you a bit where Sequential Crush is heading in 2014! As you may have read in a recent interview with me, I have decided that it is long overdue for me to get a book about the romance comics off into the universe. I am so super excited, I can't even begin to tell you! I am currently looking for the best home for it, and my hope is that by the end of the year a huge chunk of it will be completed. 2013 was a big transitional year for me and I didn't get a chance to blog as much as I would have liked, and I felt a huge amount of guilt because of it. Since 2014 will be all about getting this book off the ground, I am going to commit myself to doing my very best to blog once a week -- but probably no more, and with no guilt (I know you fellow bloggers can relate!). I hope you -- my fantastic readers, will stick around. I promise it will all be worth it! I am planning to continue to grow the Sequential Crush Facebook page, as it has proven to be a popular extension of the site. I am also toying with the idea of adding a Tumblr page to supplement posts, so I'll be sure to keep you updated! 

All in all, I'm looking forward to 2014 being the best year ever for Sequential Crush, and I really hope you'll join me for it! Have a most happy and safe New Year's celebration! And because this is a romance blog after all, I hope that when midnight strikes, you are kissing that special someone! Happy New Year! See you soon! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays From Sequential Crush!

A rare holiday cover
(image from the GCD)
Teen-Age Love #44
(October 1965)

Hi all! I just want to take a minute to wish you and yours a very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! I'm enjoying my first Christmas in Tennessee with nary a snowflake in sight, and I'm kinda diggin' it! Wherever you are, I hope you get the opportunity to have a few relaxing days with friends and family. Thanks again for all your comments and support. I can't say it enough -- I have the best readers in the world! And if you missed it, a few days ago I did an interview over at Splice Today about Sequential Crush and romance comics in general. Be sure to read to the end because I have a little surprise for you! Happiest of holiday wishes! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advice From the Romance Comics - Page Peterson Helps You Realize The Error of Your Ways

If Page Peterson were a real person, you better believe she'd be on retainer as my life coach. If I had Ms. Peterson in my life she probably would have told me, "Jacque, don't try to hand make all your holiday gifts -- it's just too much!" Or she would have at least told me I should have started in July. She would also hopefully tell me to walk daily and buy a better conditioner. Well, sadly, I'm a few decades too late and in the wrong universe for Ms. Peterson's advice. But really... couldn't we all use a Page Peterson in our lives? An unbiased professional willing to dish out tough love on matters such as dating and other sticky situations? Luckily for Karen from issue #174 of Young Romance, romance guru Page Peterson is at the ready to fill the dancing diva in on the error of her ways. Just click to enlarge and enjoy!

"Do's & Dont's of Dating by Page Peterson"
Pencils: Steve Englehart, Inks: Vince Colletta
Young Romance #174 (September 1971)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - Be Batman's Girl Wonder in Capes!

This "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" from Secret Hearts #118 (March 1967) may be one of my favorites yet. Not only are the fashions (expertly illustrated by Tony Abruzzo) utterly gorgeous and full of sixties mod goodness, but "Holy Hanna!" It's essentially an ad for Batman!

Click to enlarge!

Since this was published at the height of the campy television show, it is likely this was done to capitalize on the popularity of the character, and also serve as a sneaky advertisement for the comics! Not a bad way to start the week, eh?! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Develop Sex Appeal!

Sex appeal! Do you have it? If not, then read on to discover how Girls' Romances suggests you get it!

"Make a note -- but not an issue -- of whether
your man loves blue (most men do), hates sugar in his coffee,
digs the Rolling Stones, and so on." 

Essentially, it boils down to having self-confidence, moving and living with grace, developing a sexy voice (no mumbling!), being a good listener, getting to know his likes and dislikes, and practicing good grooming habits.

"How to Develop Sex Appeal"
Girls' Romances #158
(July 1971)

With sex so infrequently discussed in the romance comics, I immediately take notice at anything that mentions it. Though it has a "sexy" headline, this advice is definitely tame and age appropriate for all romance comic readers of the day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fan Illustrated Romance Story - Marvel's "I Can't Love Anyone!"

Tonight's story, "I Can't Love Anyone!" from My Love #33 (March 1975) (originally published in My Love #19 - September 1972) is one I'm really excited to share with you. Not only does it have a compelling plot and gorgeous art, the creative team is somewhat of an unusual one.

This tale of "tender triumph" was written by Anne Spencer (nom de plume of Steve Englehart), and illustrated by John Tartaglione (inks) and "Paty" (pencils). On the last page of the story you will notice the postscript: 

"A few words about the artist: Paty,
(rhymes with "Katy") is a long-time Marvel fan
who always decorated her fan mail with pictureswe asked for a
whole storyand got this romantic result.
We love it, and hope you do too!" 

Fan turned artist, Paty Cockrum, née Greer is none other Marvel bullpen penciller, inker, and colorist, as well as the wife of the late Dave Cockrum. With the ironic fact that there were so few women who worked on the romance comics (despite it being a genre intended for them), I definitely take notice and get super excited when I find a story with the contributions of a talented lady such as Paty.

"I Can't Love Anyone!" is the story of Wanda Kingston, a young woman whose life is pretty darn "out of sight." As you will see, Wanda is quite the love addict. Her days are booked solid with thrilling dates, her nights filled with passionate goodbye smooches.

Sounds like heaven, right? Well, Wanda certainly doesn't think so. Despite enjoying the company of her suitors, she is troubled by the fact that every single one of them seems to fall in love with her. And for Wanda, love equals seriousness, and serious relationships lead to marriage, "squawling [sic] babies... and smelly armloads of laundry... and red hands from household drudgery." To that, Wanda gives a resounding thumbs down. For her, there are simply too many thrilling things to be accomplished in life to be tied down in such a domestic fashion. 

Wanda longs to meet a guy who shares her feelings on casual romance, and finally, one day she does. Simon is not only handsome, but he enjoys playing the field as well. For Wanda, he's perfect.

But in the spirit of we always want what we can't have, Wanda becomes increasingly devastated every time she runs into Simon and his never ending bevy of lady companions. Could it be? Could it be that Wanda Kingston has fallen in love?  

Wanda takes her new found realization to Simon, clearly hoping for the fawning reaction she would get in the past from all the other men she dated. But Simon is committed to playing the field, and chastises her:

"Oh wow, baby! Back off!
I'm not interested in staying with one chick!
I thought you were different from
those other dumb broads!" 

And to that, Wanda makes no apology for her feelings. She doesn't crumble. She doesn't break. But, she does concede that she is merely just human. And though it may not seem like this story has a particularly happy ending, we can be sure that Wanda's temporal heartbreak will lead to her future happiness.

This story is in part so fascinating because we are given a taste (in that great pink background colored panel above) of the very real fears associated with becoming a midcentury housewife. No doubt many a young reader could identify. We are also presented with a female protagonist who goes against norms and acts as she pleases -- stopped only by her own internal realizations and not the often harrowing demands of cultural expectations. In my opinion, this story represents so much of what is good about the romance comics of this time period. Not only is the art beautiful and exciting, in it, love is depicted as the complex beast it really is. "I Can't Love Anyone!" is a "tender triumph" indeed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful For You!

Pie is a know aphrodisiac. Fact.
Panel from "Recipe for Romance!"
Young Love #97 (July 1972)

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday and got to spend time with your loved ones, whether it was for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or just for some quality Thursday together time. I want to take a moment to tell all of you how very thankful I am that you choose to read Sequential Crush. Your support over the years means so much to me!!! Thank you! Have a wonderful and restful weekend, and I'll see you back here next week! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fashion Files - Knockout 1969 Dates 'n' Mates

I'm pretty sure you need some grooviness to send you off into your weekend! Have a wonderful one, and I'll see you back here next week!

"Dates 'n' Mates"
Young Romance #160 (June/July 1969)
Illustrated by Ric Estrada

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Charlton Swipes DC's "Practicing Hippie," Zack Barton!

Remember "Practicing Hippie," Zack Barton (above) from DC's Woodstock story, "I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!" Falling in Love #118 (October 1970)? As I was flipping through my new finds the other day, I came across "Do Your Thing!" in Charlton's Love and Romance #1. The guy on the splash page looked awful familiar! 

Splash from "Do Your Thing!"
Love and Romance #1 (September 1971)
Pencils: Art Cappello, Inks: Vincent Alascia

Well, Charlton? What say you?!  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Young (Step) Father's Story - "Second Choice!"

As promised earlier in the week, here is "Second Choice!" This story from Heart Throbs #121 (August/September 1969) is somewhat rare for the romance comics due to its multiple serious adult themes of marriage, death, and child rearing. Just a glance at the cover indicates to the reader that they are in for something out of the ordinary. The cover is of course by the late Nick Cardy, who sadly, passed away just days ago. The interior pencils (at least in part) are by Tony Abruzzo. Thanks largely to Cardy's intriguing cover, "Second Choice!" is a truly memorable story.

The splash page introduces us to three of the main characters -- Amy, and her two suitors, Billy and Jim. Sadly for Jim, Amy has chosen Billy. The two are going to get married.

As Amy stands in the background, Jim congratulates Billy on winning Amy's heart, despite the fact his own heart is broken. Jim then reminds them that they better get hitched quickly, as he and Billy have "a little date in Vietnam!" Billy and Amy heed Jim's advice and soon after, the two are married. Poor Jim stands up at the wedding as Billy's best man. A few months after the wedding, Amy kisses the two men off as they head to Vietnam, ominously telling Jim to be sure to "come back!"

On the page that follows, some time has passed, and we see Billy and Jim at war. Both men miss Amy terribly, though Jim must do so secretly. We learn on this page that Amy and Billy have had a child, Billy Jr. Sadly, we also witness the tragic death of Billy.

Understandably, Amy sinks into a dark depression following the death of her husband. Jim soon returns to the States, and comforts her as best as he can. Jim reminds her that thousands of other women have lost their husbands in the war too, and that Billy would not want her carrying on so; especially with little Billy Jr. to take care of. Before long, Amy tells Jim that she thinks that she is falling in love with him, to which Jim pleads with us as readers, "You've got to believe me when I tell you I really didn't plan it... it just happened one evening..." Despite feeling a little guilty about it, the two get married. In the union, Jim gains not only a wife, but a son as well.

Jim and Amy's wedded bliss goes on for about three months. Not long after though, it becomes clear to Jim that playing father to another man's child is a bit of a drag. Not only does he have to listen to snide comments from strangers about the baby not resembling him at all, Jim is also thrown off by Billy Jr's neediness. Jim starts to long for the freedom of bachelorhood.

Jim is also struggling with intense jealousy. He decides that trying to draw Amy closer to him with a little alone time will be the best thing for their relationship.

While at the park that Saturday, Jim suggests they join a bowling league. He is quickly shot down; bowling would be too expensive, and hiring a babysitter even more so. The two then begin to quarrel.

"Stop shutting me up! It's time I spoke the truth...
and it's time you stopped thinking only of the kid...
and give me some consideration!" 

The tears flow and Amy begs Jim to go home with her. Jim continues to be enraged; citing their house not as a home, but as a "nursery for Billy's kid!" The two go their separate ways. Though Amy is of course devastated by her husband's behavior, she simultaneously understands it and feared it was coming. 

Jim walks around town for a while, thinking. At one point he says "hello" to a pretty girl, but ultimately realizes that he is "hopelessly flipped" over Amy and putting up with little Junior is well worth it. As Jim walks, the sky turns dark and it starts storming. He rushes home right away, but thunder and lightning are already underway. When Jim arrives at their house, he opens the door to a worried Amy -- the lights have gone out from the storm. Just as the two begin to finally have a moment of honesty and tenderness, a burst of thunder and lightning scare the wits out of little Billy. The baby instinctively reaches for Jim. After just a few moments in his arms, Billy calms down. It is then that Jim finally realizes he is in fact, a father.

Not unlike other stories of young parenthood, Jim and Amy learn the importance of their family dynamic after a trying event. The most interesting thing I find about this story is actually the rather misleading and sensationalized (read: sensational!) cover. My first impression just based on the cover was that the story was going to be about a single woman who has a child out of wedlock. But maybe that is just my modern brain? I'm curious -- how do your reactions of the story align with your expectations from the fantastic Cardy cover? Please do let me know!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rest in Peace Nick Cardy (1920-2013)

I am so saddened to learn of the passing of the outrageously talented Nick Cardy. Not only was he a wonderful person with a fantastic sense of humor (I had the good fortune to meet him and talk with him a few times at conventions over the years), he was an enormously talented artist. His romance covers are some of the strongest in my mind, and I'm sure many of you can agree. The women Cardy portrayed on the covers of so many romance issues (affectionately known by fans as "Cardy Babes") managed to be both beautiful and relateable. Cardy's covers remain some of the most beloved and iconic of the entire comics medium.

Coincidentally, I was prepping a post this weekend on the story, "Second Choice" from Heart Throbs #121 (August/September 1969). This particular issue is one of my new acquisitions, and one of the issues that I had been hunting for for quite a while due to the gorgeous and intriguing Cardy cover. I look forward to sharing it with you later in the week. But for now, all I can say is thank you Mr. Cardy. You will be missed.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrate Halloween with Charlton's Gothic Romance Comic - Haunted Love #4 (October 1973)

Greetings, you romantic ghouls, you! Happy Halloween! 'Tis the perfect time of the year to share with you an issue of Charlton's Gothic romance title, Haunted Love! This particular issue (#4, with a cover date of October 1973) came into my collection via way of my very generous and supportive boyfriend, James, who got a kick out of the fact that there were Gothic romance comics published in the first place. I think you will get a kick out of this issue as well, especially considering the first story, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!" was illustrated by the legendary Steve Ditko -- a rarity for the romance comics. So wait no further! Follow along with me through Haunted Love #4... if you dare!

The first story of the issue, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!" (edited by George Wildman, written by Joe Gill, and penciled/inked by Steve Ditko) takes place in 17th century Salem. The splash page introduces us to Henrietta Hanks, thought to have been a witch in life, and equally despised in death.

On the next few pages we are taken back to when Henrietta was young enough to court. Ugly (check out those teeth!), spiteful, and terribly jealous of the other young ladies in the village, Henrietta is madly in love with the village hunk, Edward Reeves. Sadly for her, Henrietta is certainly not the object of any man's desire. While out one day, she comes across Dame Magnus. The Dame perceives Henrietta's romantic frustrations and invites her to her barn that evening. Henrietta is both surprised and intrigued by the old witch's invitation.

Determined to have Edward return her affections, Henrietta makes the journey to the Dame's barn that evening as instructed. Lo and behold, Satan is there waiting for her. Naturally, he offers to take her soul off her hands in exchange for the love of a man.

Satan guarantees that if Henrietta signs over her soul to him, Edward Reeves will fall madly in love with her. With no time to spare, Henrietta puts blood-soaked quill to paper. And like clockwork, Edward comes a callin'.

However! In a cruel twist of fate, it turns out that Edward is not as admirable as he was from afar. Henrietta finds his conversation dull, his mannerisms and breath offensive, and worst of all, "his teeth are gapped and crooked!" When Edward attempts to make Henrietta his bride, she lies and tells him that she is promised to another. But ironically, the lie becomes reality when after her death, Satan comes to claim his eternal bride!

The second spooky story in this issue is "Reunion," with art by Joe Staton, script by Joe Gill, and edited by George Wildman. Just prior to their wedding day, lovers Daniel Morton and Cleo Drake take a trip to enjoy some romantic time by the sea.

Though the couple would rather kiss the night away (as lovers are wont to do), Daniel and Cleo start to make their way across the bay for a party being held on their behalf. But before they can make it to the celebration, tragedy strikes. As the two make their way there, a mysterious wave comes from out of the fog and envelopes their tiny boat, throwing them overboard.

Though Daniel is rescued, Cleo's body is never recovered. Despite the fact that the love of his life is never found, Daniel never stops feeling her presence.

The whole town knows of Daniel's great sorrow, and everyone around him respects his mourning. But when a pair of traveling "spiritualists" (AKA a con-man and woman) catch wind of the accident, Daniel's world is turned upside down.

Daniel is suspicious at first of their claims to be able to conjure his beloved from her watery grave. But before long, Daniel's love-sick heart gives in and decides to allow the spiritualists to assist him in contacting Cleo. Nadia, the duo's "medium" feels bad for Daniel, but goes along with her partner's tricks anyhow -- they at least need gas money to get out of town when the going inevitably gets tough. As Daniel approaches their "headquarters" (an abandoned, dilapidated cottage on a deserted beach), the spirit of Cleo surrounds him, further convincing him to go along with Nadia and Anton's deception.

When Daniel arrives for the session, Anton tells him that Nadia has many health problems as a result of her contacting the dead for people such as himself. Anton goes on to tell Daniel that in order to receive a message from Cleo, he must pay up -- at least $1,000 worth. So hopeful he will be reunited with his one true love, Daniel forks it over.

Nadia begins her ritual. And though she and Anton know that what they are doing is a scam, the ghost of Cleo apparently doesn't. Her spirit hovers over Daniel and Nadia as they join hands.

Suddenly, and so naturally, the spirit of Cleo enters Nadia's body. Daniel kisses the medium, overjoyed to find that his love has returned to him, despite the mysterious circumstances.

Anton attempts to stop Nadia from running off with Daniel, but love is far too strong. In this Gothic romance tale, good overcomes evil.

The last feature of this issue is a one-page text story -- "Ghostly Gallery." Read at your own risk, bwhaha!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Haunted Love as much as I did! Though not your typical romance stories, the Gothic romance issues from DC and Charlton definitely enjoy a well-earned place in both comic book history and our hearts. 

Have a Very Happy and Haunted Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Big Thank You + The Identity of Dr. Harold Gluck Revealed!

Hey everyone! I hope you had a great weekend, I know I sure did! Saturday I went to Wizard World Nashville as I had mentioned in earlier posts. It had been a while since I had been to a comic book convention, so it felt great to be back “home.” I just love, love, love all the energy and excitement that surround conventions! As promised, I spent the day looking for romance comics to buy with the money that you readers so generously donated for that very purpose. Though the convention was tons of fun, there was little to be had in the way of comic books (as I had feared!), particularly romance comics. So, I did the next best thing and camped out on eBay yesterday and purchased almost three dozen romance issues. I also stopped by my local comic book store this afternoon and found a few Charlton issues to round things out (the issues pictured). The orders should be trickling in over the next couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to share with you my finds! Thank you sooooo very much to all those who donated. It really meant a lot to know to what extent people enjoy and see value in Sequential Crush! I can’t say it enough -- best readers ever!!!

Issues I was able to purchase with your kind donations!

Falling in Love #75, #84, #114
Girls' Love Stories #90, #133, #134
Girls' Romances #158
Heart Throbs #121
Secret Hearts #95, #98, #118, #138
Young Love #59, #64, #83
Young Romance #138, #152, #153, #160
The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #2
My Love #33
Our Love Story #26
For Lovers Only #64
♥ I Love You #88, #92, #110, #114
Just Married #39, #112
Love Diary #24
Love and Romance #1
Romantic Story #73, #88
Secret Romance #4
Secrets of Young Brides #4
Teen-Age Love #68

Not too much romance comic content to be found overall at the convention, but I was told an interesting tidbit from writer, Danny Fingeroth. We were discussing the romance comics and Danny told me that Dr. Harold Gluck (of Charlton advice columns, “Canteen Corner” and “Teenage Troubles”) was a substitute teacher at his high school. As Danny recollected hearing, Dr. Gluck was not only versed in the language of distraught teens, but fluent in Swahili as well.* Dr. Gluck also wrote a number of stories for various Western and Crime publications, a list of which can be found here. I really wasn’t able to find much more on Dr. Gluck after some cursory Google research, but small world, eh?! I just love hearing these kinds of stories at conventions! Thanks again everyone, and join me later in the week for another Halloween-themed post!

*Edited to reflect that Danny remembers hearing that Dr. Gluck was fluent in Swahilli, and not that he necessarily had a doctorate in it as I previously stated. Further research needs to be done to learn more about this little discussed figure in comic book history. Anyone up for writing the official Dr. Harold Gluck biography?!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Alan Moore, Catwoman, and Miss Atwood - A Charlton Halloween Story!

Okay, okay, you caught me! The title of this post really has nothing to do with Alan Moore (other than being the name of the main love interest in tonight's story) or Catwoman, but it probably got your attention, right?! Anyway, with so few tales in the romance comics revolving around holidays, you can probably imagine how excited I was to find one that featured Halloween! "Miss Atwood and the Fountain of Youth" from Sweethearts #98 (June 1968) is an eight-page story that chronicles the teaching career of Miss Atwood. Just out of normal school herself, Miss Atwood tries at all costs to appear older and professional in order to gain respect from her students. In the process, she winds up falling in love with fellow teacher, Alan Moore, but not before going to a Halloween dance in a Catwoman-esque costume! The story is chock-full of great imagery and dialogue, and definitely has that dated Charlton charm about it. As a thank you for all your donations to the Sequential Crush book drive, I've decided to post the entire story below! Just click on each page to enlarge. Enjoy!

Thank you so much again for all your donations! In case you would still like to donate, I will keep the button up for a bit longer and take it down in the morning.

*Edit: I took the button down, but if you would still like to donate, feel free to email me! Thanks to everyone for their incredible generosity!