Monday, December 21, 2015

Mad Mad Modes for Moderns Mondays - A Tradition of Fashion Illustration

Happy Monday, everyone! A big thank you to everyone who took the time to read my last post. Your excitement for my book is extremely encouraging and will help keep me moving forward!

As I mentioned in the post, I'm working with an illustrator to bring the book to life. I've been on Pinterest quite a bit lately pulling together images for inspiration for the look of the book. As I fell further and further down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, I couldn't help but notice that so much of the fashion featurettes from the romance comics were in the tradition of classic fashion illustrations. Take for example this 1969 "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" extolling the virtues of (fake) fur:

"Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" 
Secret Hearts #135
(April 1969)

Doesn't really look all that different from these illustrations depicting fur from decades prior, does it? 

Illustration via Flickr

Illustration via Flickr

Styles and hemlines may change over time, but the essence of fashion illustration has essentially stayed the same. Though comic books have had a tendency to be considered lowbrow, "Mad Mad Modes for Moderns" helps make the case to elevate them as serious contenders for the title of art.

Need a last minute gift for a romance fan?
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'm Writing a Book - Progress Update #1

One of the things I’ve always loved about romance comics is the vulnerability of the beautiful women with tear-stained faces. Many people who’ve perused the genre have mistaken that vulnerability for weakness. I strongly believe, however, that when it comes to romance comic book characters, were they merely weak, they would not be open to love at all. It is vulnerability and strength, not weakness, that makes the romance characters take chances at love, story after story. It is that quality of being brave enough to display their vulnerability that for me, makes the romance comic characters so darn relatable and admirable.

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book for some time now. I’ve mentioned it here and there in passing, but as of yet, I haven't spilled the beans. I’ve even had some of you fine readers asking me to go into more detail about the book, but to be honest -- I’ve been immobilized by fear. I didn’t want to share anything about this enormous project until the book was near done and as close to perfection as possible. Luckily, I’ve had a change of heart.

I recently finished reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a book that gets at the core of human vulnerability. It, along with the bravery of the optimistic romance characters, and the realization that I was equally as nervous about starting Sequential Crush in the first place so many years ago made me realize I have to share the process. And so, I turn to vulnerability and answer some of the questions I've been asked so far.

Why a book?

I actually started Sequential Crush back in 2009 because I wanted to write a book about romance comics. I figured I would use the blog as a testing ground for my ideas, as well as a way to network with other romance fans and build an audience. But, I became so enraptured with blogging that too many years passed before I started working on a book project in earnest. In 2013, I wrote a book proposal that I shopped around to a few agents and publishers. After a series of rejections, I thought to myself, why spend more years on rejection and gatekeepers when I could just self-publish? The decision to self-publish this first book is not a declaration that I will never aim for traditional publishing (because I most certainly will), but at this moment in time, self-publishing is the best way to get this material out into the world.

I'm also increasingly excited about this book because I feel like it's in line with the new mission I'm developing for Sequential Crush. Not only do I want to continue to preserve the history of the genre, I want to move the romance comics into the NOW and bring the spirit of the vintage romance comics into the present for an audience that wouldn't normally pick up a comic book from the 1960s or '70s.

What is the book about?

The book (final title in the works) will be about one of the most neglected aspect of romance comics -- advice columns. Some of the most riveting content in the romance comics came in the form of text advice and I'm super excited to share those juicy tidbits with you in an illustrated book format. I think the advice columns get glossed over because people just see a wall of text and move on. It's within these texts, however, that foundations for the stories rest. I believe that much of the advice from the romance comics is timeless and can benefit many of us even today.

Who will the book be for?

Fans of Sequential Crush first and foremost! I also hope to draw in a new audience of people who will fall in love with the romance comics just as much as those of you already here.

Where are you currently in the book's process?

I've written the entire book, and I'm currently working on editing the third draft. I've also started to work with an incredibly talented illustrator (more on her in a future update!) who is just as excited about the project as I am.

The research and writing have been challenging, but the true challenges are ahead. Self-publishing is not only time-consuming but expensive. Therefore, I will be running a Kickstarter campaign to presell the book and all the fun merchandise that my illustrator and I are dreaming up.

What is the timeframe for completion?

As we all know -- time is one of the most precious resources. It has taken me way longer than I had hoped to actually write the thing, but as anyone with a day job such as myself knows, having time to work on passion projects are few and far between. For the past two years, I've worked on this project in the cracks of the day, the evening, and on the weekends. My goal right now for completion includes a February/March Kickstarter campaign, with a June launch. Assuming everything goes off without a hitch, I plan to debut the finished product at HeroesCon. I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions, but finishing the book is my main goal for 2016!

How can I support the book?

Why, I’m glad you asked (okay, you didn’t, but I'm going to take the liberty of assuming here)! First off, joining the mailing list is a great way to support Sequential Crush and the book because you will be kept in the loop via your inbox. Click here to join. Another way you can help is to visit my Gumroad store and make a purchase (holiday gifts, anyone?). May I also suggest a visit to my Amazon recommendations? Any revenue generated will go straight to the book.

Phew! I am glad to get that off my chest! It feels great to share this with all you Sequential Crush followers and everyone who's supported my efforts for so long. I hope you enjoyed this update and that you will continue to check in for future ones. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away in the comments. Thank you, each and every one of you who took the time to read this -- you are the best

Credits: 1.) I love organization (and washi tape) so when I started the book I had to make a binder to collect all my thoughts. 2.) "Leave Me Alone" Falling in Love #60 (July 1963) Art by Bernard Sachs 3.) There's been a lot of coffee involved in the creation of this book so far. I definitely see more in my future. 4.) "I Won All the Battles... and Lost the War!" Career Girl Romances #74 (April 1973) Pencils: A. Martinez, Inks: J. Zuniga 5.) "I Dream of Love" Love Diary #67 (July 1970)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Romance Comic Book Icon - Young Romance #150

At the end of September when I reported that Jay Scott Pike had passed, I shared the cover of Young Romance #150 (October/November 1967) as a tribute to his mastery as an artist and his lasting contribution to the romance genre. To the uninitiated, the cover of Young Romance #150 may seem just like any other, but many will recognize it as one of the quintessential images of the genre. Used for many a merchandising opportunity including everything from a "Romance Pulp" postcard set to t-shirts to a pop art swipe in an art exhibition, this cover is a striking testament to the iconic power of American romance comics.

During a Twitter exchange, fellow romance fan Nigel Steele (@Bobbi_Betamax), commented on the appeal of the cover, "A design classic. I guess it evokes, better than most, a feeling that resonates so much: hiding the heartbreak." I couldn't have said it better myself, Nigel.

Now that we've established the allure of the cover and its extensive use, I think it's time to take a look at the story behind the cover, don't you? "Can Any Many Really Be Trusted?" is a fifteen-page epic penciled by Jay Scott Pike and inked by Vince Colletta.

The seeds of doubt over the integrity of men started early for Janie. When she was just a little girl, Janie overheard her Aunt Norma's devastation over losing a beau. Janie's mother assured her that her aunt was just upset and dealing with the loss in her own way.

Years later, the memory of her aunt's grief is brought to the surface when Janie's friend Lynn is suddenly dropped by her boyfriend of two years. As Janie consoles her, Lynn vows never to trust a man again.

One night at a pajama party, Janie's friends take a pledge swearing never to trust a man. Janie takes issue with the oath. While there are some rotten eggs, Janie feels it is unfair to lump all men in the same boat. Needless to say, Janie's friends don't take kindly to her assertion.

Janie truly believes what she says -- all men aren't bad. At the same time, she knows that she doesn't ever want to be stuck with a guy she can't completely trust. One night at a dance Janie's stance on the matter is put to the test when she meets a super swell guy named Peter. Her intuition tells her he can be trusted, but Janie is given quite a jolt when Peter volunteers the information that there has been someone in his life. Responding to Janie's visible shock, Peter qualms her fears by letting her know that was before meeting her.

Peter then takes Janie into his arms, and with his kiss, all of Janie's fears melt away.

Janie is clearly excited about her new crush. Janie's roommate, Brenda? Not so much.

Brenda gives Janie a stern warning -- what has happened to women since time immemorial will happen to her.

Naturally, Janie starts to doubt herself a bit. What if Brenda and the rest of her friends are right? What if men can't be trusted? Visions of Peter quickly put Janie at ease, and all seems right with the world. The next morning, Janie gives Peter a good morning call that goes unanswered. Unfazed, she goes off to class.

 As Janie rounds the corner, she is stopped dead in her tracks. As depicted in the reflection of her sunglasses, Janie has caught her "faithful" Peter kissing another girl. Ugh, Peter! How could you?

Janie runs back to her dorm room. Her roommate Brenda had seen her running and goes to check on her. Janie tells Brenda the story of how she caught Peter kissing another girl. Brenda is empathetic but reminds Janie that men cannot be trusted. She suggests that Janie head back to class to help her forget the heartbreak. In a cruel twist of fate, Janie bumps into Peter on her way.

She coolly walks right on by without acknowledging Peter. He stops her and asks her what the problem is. After rebuffing him a few times, Janie finally spills the beans that she saw him kissing another girl. Peter reminds Janie that when they first met, he had told her that he was seeing someone else. Turns out he was just saying goodbye to that someone else. With tears of relief, the two embrace and the question is posed -- "Can any man really be trusted?" In Peter, Janie feels she has her answer.

I have mixed emotions about this story. I like that Janie wasn't willing to just blindly follow her friends' advice, but I do think she could have made Peter work a little harder for her affections after breaking her heart. Take out the "I had my answer -- forever!" on that last panel, and I think it would have packed a little more of a punch. What are your thoughts on the story? Does it live up to its celebrated cover?

I couldn't help myself!

On that note friends, I want to take a second to wish those of you stateside a very happy Thanksgiving. As always, I continue to be grateful for your readership, your dedication to me and this little old blog, and for your friendship. Now go out and have yourselves a lovely holiday! 

If you decide to forgo the whole Black Friday
shopping thing but still need some gifts, why not check
out my Gumroad shop or some of the romance comic
book-related books I recommend on Amazon?
Thank you for your support!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tales of Gothic Romance - Charlton Comics' "The Night on Fog Island"

Happy Halloween! In between those knocks on the door from trick-or-treaters, pop a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and settle in with "The Night on Fog Island" from Haunted Love #9 (May 1975)! This beautifully illustrated story by Charlton great, Enrique Nieto (with a stunning painted cover by Don Newton) is sure to send a chill up your spine!

As a special treat (because isn't Halloween all about treats, really?) I've included all six pages of the story. Just click on a page to enlarge it! Enjoy and have a spookily romantic evening!

 Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
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for more romance comic book goodness! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Romance Covers of Supergirl!

Hey there romance fans! Did you watch the Supergirl pilot on Monday? I caught it last night (thank you internet), and I absolutely loved it! Like so many of the romance comics of the 1960s and '70s, the show did a fantastic job showing Supergirl's vulnerabilities and humanity. I'm super pumped to see where the show goes. I think it's really important for there to be a heroine out there who is real and relatable and more than just a sexy fighting machine. Supergirl is the one for the job, don't ya think?! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the character and what you thought of the pilot in the comments! 

Since I'm on a bit of a Supergirl high, I thought I'd share some of my favorite très romantique covers featuring the Maid of Might! Not only were these covers rendered by artists who also worked in the romance genre (including the recently departed Murphy Anderson), these particular issues share a lot of the same DNA with the romance comics in form, language, and overall aesthetic. 

Adventure Comics #386
(November 1969)

Adventure Comics #388
(January 1970)

Adventure Comics #389
(February 1970)

Adventure Comics #390
(March/April 1970)

Adventure Comics #402
(February 1971)

Supergirl #3
(February 1973)

Supergirl #6
(August 1973)

Credits: 1.) Adventure Comics #386 (November 1969) Pencils: Curt Swan , Inks: Murphy Anderson  2.) Adventure Comics #388 (January 1970) Pencils: Curt Swan , Inks: Murphy Anderson 3.) Adventure Comics #389 (February 1970) Pencils: Curt Swan , Inks: Murphy Anderson 4.) Adventure Comics #390 (March/April 1970) Pencils: Curt Swan , Inks: Murphy Anderson 5.) Adventure Comics #402 (February 1971) Pencils: Mike Sekowsky, Inks: Dick Giordano 6.) Supergirl #3 (February 1973) Pencils and Inks: Bob Oksner 7.) Supergirl #6 (August 1973) Pencils and Inks: Bob Oksner


If you've enjoyed this brief look at Supergirl's more romantic side, I think you'll really dig my booklet The Look of Love: The Romantic Era of DC's Lois Lane, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman. Head on over to my Gumroad shop and snag yourself a digital copy (pay-as-you-wish!) or a physical copy for $5 + shipping. I'll even sign it if you like! 

One more thing before we part ways! As a thank you to all of you who've subscribed to the Sequential Crush newsletter, I'll be sending out an exclusive Halloween post via email later this week. No worries if you aren't signed up yet though -- there's still time! Sign up here!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Remembering Murphy Anderson (1926-2015)

By now, you've probably heard about the passing of comic book great, Murphy Anderson. I don't know if there's anything I can say that hasn't already been said about the comics giant, but a man as wonderful as he was deserves as many tributes as the internet can hold. 

The artist at work
Photo via Berserker Books

When I look back on my childhood and all the people I was lucky enough to meet at conventions, Murphy Anderson immediately comes to mind. Even though I was just a kid, I was always struck by his kindness and charm -- not to mention, his low and distinctive voice. Anyone who heard him speak will keep that voice with them for a long time. I know I will. I can hear it as I write this!

You may not think of romance comics when you think of Murphy Anderson, but like so many artists of the Silver Age, he worked on a handful. His romance pencils and inks may not be as identifiable as some artists, but I am getting to know them better as time goes on. Below are a few examples I have in my collection.

Perhaps the most unforgettable story Murphy worked on was "I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!" if only for its sheer novelty. I continue to be unsure of the penciler, but the inks are by Anderson.

"I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!"
Falling in Love #118
(October 1970)
Though disputed, "Will No One Trust Me Again?" from Girls' Love Stories #155 appears to have been inked by Anderson (via Joe Orlando's records).

EDIT: Most likely not Anderson (see comments)
"Will No One Trust Me Again?"
Girls' Love Stories #155
(November 1970)

I see a few possible artists in the pages of "Too Good to Be Loved," but the GCD credits Anderson with pencils and inks.

"Too Good to Be Loved"
Girls' Romances #149
(June 1970)

"Unloved and Unwanted!" demonstrates Anderson's expressiveness as an inker. The characters are so dynamic and practically jump off the page! The original signed page can be seen here.

"Unloved and Unwanted!"
Girls' Romances #151
(September 1971)

As we continue to lose the talented folks who were the backbone of the industry for so long, I'm comforted to know that their legacy lives on. In these pages, in our hearts, and in Murphy Anderson's case... in my ears. Rest in Peace, kind sir.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Favorites - Masquerades!

October has to be one of the most beloved of months, don't you think? Not only are the leaves changing and the air getting crisp, Halloween is just around the corner! Now, much to my dismay, there are not many Halloween stories in the romance comics, but there are quite a few covers depicting masquerades. So many in fact, that it leads me to believe that most Americans were attending bi-weekly masquerade balls from the 1950s through the '70s! No?! They weren't? Oh...well, enjoy these covers anyway! Maybe you'll even get an idea for your Halloween costume! 


Masquerade balls in the romance comics are a convenient way to "test the waters" if you know what I mean. 

 Secret Hearts #68
(January 1961)

Despite a questionable background costume, this cover is colorful and fun! I dig it! 

Young Romance #142
(June/July 1966)

I know, I know. This issue of Girls' Love Stories is from the '50s, but it has a soft spot in my heart -doesn't the masked suitor look quite a bit like Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern?! I definitely need to add it to my collection someday! 

Girls' Love Stories #40*
(March/April 1956)

The kissing couple on this Charlton is delightful, but what I really love about it is the action-packed background!

Sweethearts #114
(January 1971)

A word bubble that reads, "You? Oh, no..." doesn't exactly make for a promising romance story, but it is darn entertaining! 

Love Diary #71*
(March 1971)

Credits: 1.) Secret Hearts #68 (January 1961) Pencils: John Romita 2.) Young Romance #142 (June/July 1966) Pencils: Jay Scott Pike 3.) Girls' Love Stories #40 (March/April 1956) Pencils: Mike Sekowsky 4.) Sweethearts #114 (January 1971) 5.) Love Diary #71 (March 1971)

*Cover image from the Grand Comics Database 

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
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for more romance comic book goodness! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sequential Crush at Wizard World Nashville 2015!

If you find yourself in Music City, USA (aka Nashville) for Wizard World this coming weekend, be sure to visit me! This will be my first ever convention setting up a table for Sequential Crush, so I am very excited. I'll have copies of Ares & Aphrodite (I wrote the afterword) for sale, as well as my Look of Love booklet. You can find me in Artist Alley, table B21 -- I'll be the one with the big hair!

In addition to having a table in Artist Alley, I will also be on two panels talking about two topics near and dear to my heart -- romance comics (of course) and my grandfather/the 75th anniversary of the Green Lantern.

Friday, September 25th
7:00 – 7:45PM
(ROOM 105)
What is a Strong Female Character to you? Who is she? Is it Wonder Woman? She-Hulk? Is it someone who doesn't fight but kicks butt in other ways? Join Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia, Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, Most Craved), Genese Davis (author, The Holders' Dominion), Janet Lee (artist, Return of the Dappermen), Jacque Nodell ( and Renee Witterstaetter (editor, She-Hulk, colorist Avengers) to talk about your favorites, how things are changing and what makes someone 'strong.'

Sunday, September 27th
2:00 - 2:45PM
(ROOM 104AB)
75 years ago, in 1940, as the Nazi conquest of Europe continued and the Battle of Britain raged, the United States watched from the sidelines while instituting the first peacetime draft. At the same time, the world of comics was experiencing an incredible sustained period of invention, as The Joker, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Spirit, Catwoman, and Captains America and Marvel all debuted! (Not to mention the debuts of pop culture icons Bugs Bunny, and Brenda Starr, and classic movies Fantasia and The Great Dictator!) Showing and discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including moderator Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) as well as an array of history and pop culture experts, including Joe Casey (Ben 10) and Jacque Nodell (granddaughter of Green Lantern creator Martin Nodell).

Will you be there? If so, please be sure to stop by and say hello!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
for the Sequential Crush newsletter email list
for more romance comic book goodness!