Saturday, February 28, 2015

Romance Comics and Black History Month - Jack Kirby's Unpublished Soul Love

Cover of Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)
Image from Heritage Auctions

As Black History Month winds down, lets take a little look at one of the most interesting romance comics ever made; and consequently, not published -- Jack Kirby's Soul Love. Created for DC Comics in the early 1970s, Soul Love was conceptualized, written, and penciled by Jack Kirby, and inked by Vince Colletta and Tony DeZuniga. The origin of Soul Love stemmed from another Kirby story, "The Model" in an equally obscure and unpublished "romance" title, True Divorce Cases.*

"Fears of a Go-Go Girl" page two
Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Vince Colletta
Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)
Image from Heritage Auctions

The stories in the unpublished Soul Love issue appear to have included (not necessarily in the intended order):

1.) "The Teacher"
2.) "Diary of the Disappointed Doll"
3.) "Dedicated Nurse"
4.) "Fears of a Go-Go Girl"
5.) "Old Fires"

Many of the pages are available for viewing over at Heritage's website. For the most part, they are pretty typical romance stories, albeit with a rather hefty dose of stereotypes. Though its hard to judge from the bits and pieces I've seen, "Diary of a Disappointed Doll" about a blooper of a blind date arranged by computer, is probably my favorite of the bunch.

"Diary of the Disappointed Doll"
Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Tony DeZuniga
Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)
Image from Heritage Auctions

Despite having Kirby's name attached to the project, it went unpublished, and was panned for its awkward use of "hip" language and its Blaxploitation feel. While ultimately it is difficult to judge a work unfinished, Soul Love is no doubt an important aspect of the complete story of Jack Kirby, romance comics, and the portrayal of African Americans in popular culture. One can't help but wonder what this comic book would have looked like and the impact it might have had, had it gone to publication and perhaps, refined over time.

*See Jack Kirby Collector #56 (Spring 2011)

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from Sequential Crush - Thoughts on Romance, Comics, and True Love

"One More Summer"
Pencils: Mike Sekowsky, Inks: Bernard Sachs
Secret Hearts #115 (October 1966)

Happy Valentine's Day! I know the day is nearing an end and evening has crept in, but I just wanted to drop in and say hello. I hope you enjoyed your day with your loved ones -- whether they be friends, family, or a significant other, and that more than anything, you felt the love today.

To tell you the truth, I've always had a really tough time conceptualizing Valentine's Day posts, and this year, the sixth Valentine's Day since I started Sequential Crush, is no exception. I always feel this immense pressure to do something a-m-a-z-i-n-g to commemorate the romantic holiday, and always feel like a let down. I don't know. Maybe I need a mentor who writes a Christmas blog and see how they structure their December 25th post! Seriously though, I felt so much anxiety over posting something earth-shattering for the holiday this year, that part of me was like, meh! Nevermind!

But, something made me change my mind. I started thinking about love and what it means to me in my own life. The past couple of weeks have been quite a bit more stressful than usual for yours truly. I'm in the middle of moving. As I write this, I am actually sitting in my old house, surrounded by the broom, mop, and other assorted cleaning supplies I'm supposed to be using right now. After enjoying my own little living and workspace for two years now, I'm moving to a house with my handsome, loving, generous, and supportive boyfriend. I feel awesome about this move and our future, but because of the move (which is a stressor I think many of you can identify with), coupled with unfulfilling day jobs, and never enough time together because we are working said jobs, I've been a little down. These are the stresses in life that make us lose focus on what's really important -- love.

The thing I love about romance comics is that they give me hope. Despite their beautiful hair, stunning clothes, and perfectly proportioned bodies (well, usually -- sometimes those Charlton comics can be a little iffy), the romance comic book characters are imperfect. Flawed men and women with neuroses, hangups, and vulnerabilities. Romance comics get a ton of flack for being unrealistic and outdated, but for the most part -- they are entertaining, and in many ways, comforting. Though many of the romance stories are problematic from a modern view when it comes to gender issues and diversity, overall, the romance comics of the '60s and '70s are full of identifiable situations, characters, and stories. Love is not perfect. Love is messy. Love is damn hard sometimes. But, as the romance comics so beautifully demonstrate with their breathtaking finale kisses, it is so undoubtedly worth it.

So tonight, if you are feeling low on hope, crack open a romance comic or flip through past posts here at Sequential Crush. I think you'll find that the stories will give you comfort that everything will end Happily Ever After.

Happy Valentine's Day!