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! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Favorites - Gothic Romance Comic Covers!

Let's hear it for October! One of my very favorite months! And if you frequent the internet, clearly also the favorite of lots and lots of other people. Not only has the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte returned to our everyday conversations, but the leaves are turning, and Halloween is just around the bend! So, in celebration of October, here are five of my favorite Gothic romance covers! It's such a shame that so few of these beauties were published; between DC and Charlton, only 19 issues in total ever made their way into the hands of the public. Ranging from breathtakingly beautiful (The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1) to supremely goofy (I'm looking at you Haunted Love #2), these issues remain one of the most fascinating attempts at a romance comic book sub-genre.

The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1
(September/October 1971)

 The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #3
(January/February 1972)

Haunted Love #2
(June 1973)

The Sinister House of Secret Love #1
(October/November 1971)

The Sinister House of Secret Love #3
(February/March 1972)

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Credits:* 1.) The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1 (September/October 1971) Painted by George Ziel 2.) The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #3 (January/February 1972) Pencils and Inks: Jeffrey Catherine Jones 3.) Haunted Love #2 (June 1973) Pencils and Inks: Frank Bolle 4.) The Sinister House of Secret Love #1 (October/November 1971) Painted by Victor Kalin 5.) The Sinister House of Secret Love #3 (February/March 1972) Painted by George Ziel

*All images and credits for this post are from the Grand Comics Database. I currently only have a handful of the Gothic romance comics in my collection, but hopefully, I'll be able to pick up a couple more at an upcoming convention thanks to your generous donations!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Donate to Sequential Crush!

Hello my dearest readers! I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts here lately. I’ve slowed down a little bit due to another project (can’t wait to tell you about it!) and work, but I’m trying to go with the quality over quantity thing for the moment. Anyhow, I’m writing to you today to ask if you might be interested to donate a little something to Sequential Crush for the expressed purpose of purchasing some new romance issues. Since 2009 I have run the site without any sort of ads (and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, because they just really aren’t my thing) and Sequential Crush has been a major part of my life and my primary passion. I am coming close to having in my collection a majority of the issues published by DC and Marvel from the mid-1960s through the 1970s when they ceased publication, and I’m working on filling in my Charlton romance runs as well (though that is a bit of a bigger task considering the amount of issues they published during this time period). Though acquiring full runs of everything is still a little ways off, every single new issue I obtain helps me see patterns, learn about new artists, understand the genre more fully, and ultimately, share the knowledge and fun with you!

Next weekend I will be going to Wizard World Nashville and I’m going to try to pick up some books -- let us hope the dealers are wise and bring their romance issues! I’m going to leave a donation button on the sidebar until then, and if you would like to make a little donation (or a tip I guess, as some bloggers like to call it) I will use that money to purchase romance comics at the show. If for some reason the stock of romance comics are low at this show (hard to tell since this is a new convention, and dealers don’t always bring their romance issues to conventions), I will use the money donated to buy books from another source, most likely online. I will share any books that I purchase with the donated money either here on the blog or on the Sequential Crush Facebook page in some manner, whether stories, pages, or individual panels.

I wish I could have invited you all to an elegant beach house to give you this spiel, but well, ya know. Logistics. 

Please do not feel any sort of obligation to donate, I just thought I would try it. I have honestly been really resistant to the whole donation/crowdfunding thing for Sequential Crush, but I do put a ton of time and effort in to it, and I thought I would give it a shot. So if you do decide to donate, I want to thank you in advance. I will keep the button up until the evening of Friday, October  18th. If you aren’t able to donate right now, holla! I totally understand. I feel so fortunate to have each and every one of you as a reader -- I’m pretty sure I have the greatest readers around. I mean, come on, if you are reading about romance comics you are obviously in the top echelon of cool! Thanks everyone, you truly are the best!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Panels That Make You Go Hmmm...

So there I was, sitting on my couch the other day, casually flipping through romance comics (as I often do), and my eyes immediately fixed on this panel from the story, "Please Don't Kiss Me!" from Young Romance #187 (October 1972). Why, is that a young woman staring at a painting of lovers engaged in a naked tryst while exclaiming "I wonder what it would feel like... to be loved like that?" Yup, sure is!

Yeah, yeah, I know it is in a piece of art, in a panel which is actually quite small, but still. Seems a little suspect that the depiction of a ménage à trois (no matter how small and fuzzy and artistic) would have made it through the self-regulating body which commanded in its 1971 revision that, "Nudity in any form is prohibited. Suggestive and salacious illustration is unacceptable," and "Illicit sex relations are not to be portrayed and sexual abnormalities are unacceptable." But hey, the Comics Code's loss of discretion is our gain!

Can you tell I've been on a Comics Code kick lately? I can't speak for other genres, but I find it pretty fascinating just how much seemed to slide in the romance comics!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Romance Comic Book PSA - Charlton's Jonnie Love Speaks Out on Narcotics!

First introduced in Teen-Age Love #61 (November 1968) by writer Joe Gill and artists Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico (both credited under the united pseudonym Tony Williams); Jonnie Love was a roaming, long-haired, quasi-hippie on a quest to find meaning after a life-changing altercation with his high school principal over his follicular indiscretions. Stories featuring Jonnie appeared in 31 issues of Charlton romance comics across their various titles. Not long after his introduction, a PSA-style sequential one-page collaborative story between Charlton and the Nassau County Police Department, called, “Jonnie Love Speaks Out on Narcotics” was published and appeared in multiple Charlton romance titles. This particular one is from Career Girl Romances #48 (December 1968).*

In it, Jonnie is quickly established as a killjoy. When the traveling moralist overhears a young boy in a teen club offering drugs to a young girl (and yes, much to our collective disbelief, wise Jonnie Love is a teenager himself), Jonnie quickly springs in to action to stop the two from doing anything they would later regret. Jonnie informs the youngsters that they are playing with fire, and they will get burned. He lets them know under no uncertain terms that “Drug abusers never live successful lives...” The teens listen to Jonnie, and declare in the last panel, “You’ve convinced us, Jonnie Love...”

Remember kids, 
Jonnie is always watching.

This PSA is slightly puzzling in retrospect in that Jonnie Love’s crusade against drugs made it past the stringent hands of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) at all. Though the depiction of drugs were not technically banned by the CCA, this is the same organization that in 1971 infamously forced Marvel to publish a three-part Spider-Man anti-drug story in conjunction with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare without the CCA’s approval. Jonnie Love’s long-term love affair with staying on the right side of the law and his helpful demeanor must have earned him some brownie points with the CCA!

*Scans courtesy of Spectergirl over at her blog, As Told to Stan Lee. Be sure to check out her impressive and hilarious collection of Jonnie Love stories!