Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recolored Reprint - DC Comics and Diversity

Hey everyone! I've missed you!!! I apologize for the lack of updates lately, but the end of summer turned out to be quite busy due to things like visiting with family, prepping for Wizard World Nashville (will you be there?!), and finishing the draft of my book. That's right! I finally finished writing it. Phew! It's been a long time coming and the hard work isn't over yet, but I'm pretty pumped. Currently, I'm in the editing phase and super excited for the steps ahead. If you'd like to stay in the loop about the progress of the book, as well as other cool stuff going on in the world romance comics, be sure to join the Sequential Crush mailing list!

Now, on to this evening's post! Back in 2011 during Hispanic Heritage Month I blogged about a story from Young Romance #171 (April/May 1971) called "Strangers in Love!" I promised back when I wrote that post that I would update you when I acquired the issue with the original story, as the 1971 version had been redrawn and recolored. Well that day has come! I finally picked up Heart Throbs #93 (December 1964/January 1965) which contains the original story, "A Date with Heartbreak!" illustrated by the legendary John Romita.

Go back and read about the 1971 version here!

As I had suspected in my 2011 post, Maria was originally Lisa --  a poor girl from the "wrong side of the tracks." You'll also notice that in addition to Lisa/Maria's change of ethnicity and name, Brad became a ginger.

Naturally, as these stories usually go, both of their families disapprove of the relationship and both young women are told to stick to their own kind of people.

In fact, the two stories are identical in plot and diverge from one another very little besides the art revisions.

In the end of both stories, the couples' relationships triumph -- proving that love not only unites people, but has the power to overcome deeply ingrained prejudices.

The fact that these two stories are six years apart and yet have a similar plot seems to suggest a high degree of DC's familiarity with their inventory. Whereas sometimes romance stories seem randomly selected for hairstyle and fashion revisions, this one was clearly intentional.

The original story, "A Date with Heartbreak!" really isn't all that unusual or special; after all, there were numerous comic book romance stories depicting the woes of star-crossed lovers. What is special about these two stories is that when considered together, they give us a glimpse into a past in which diversity was becoming an increasingly important aspect of American society, and consequently, was reflected in popular culture.

I hope you enjoyed this little update, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend to boot!


  1. Glad to see you back in action, Jacque, Great post!
    I think Sequential Crush fans would like (Nay, demand!) more details about the book.
    I will keep an eyeball out for it, when it hits the shelves.
    Always a pleasure to read this blog.

    1. Why thank you! I think I can surely accommodate that request/demand lol! I will post soon giving more details and a progress report on where I'm at in the process!

  2. Really interesting post (and John Romita is a giant). Thank you.

    1. You are so welcome, Luca! Thank you stopping by! :)

  3. Hi Jacque:

    Welcome back! I could be wrong, but that sure looks like Bernie Sachs’ inks on those two stories. Rather than DC's familiarity with their inventory, I would suspect that editor Dottie
    Woolfolk had one of her assistant editors (Gail Weiss and/or Ethan Mordden) combing through back issues looking for stories that could be recycled. Incidentally, Ethan Mordden went on to become an author of some note.

    Very much looking forward to your upcoming book.

    Jake Oster

    1. Very good point, Jake, about Woolfolk and her assistant editors combing through back issues. However it happened, they picked an apt story for the reprint!

  4. Jay Scott Pike has died. In addition to his romance comic book work, he did a lot of pinup illustrations.

    1. I heard this morning. :( RIP, JSP! I will be doing a memorial post soon.

  5. Dear Jacque: Hi!

    Thanks for another wonderful post! I have been hoping you would do a comparison piece like this. And I think you are absolutely right: the altered reprint takes a story that is generally ordinary and gives it some substance. (I actually have the issue of Young Romance with the above reprint and it's a great issue--lots of wonderful stories.)

    One thing I've noticed about the DC redrawn reprints from the early 1970s is that the art often looks rather poor, with not just hairstyles and clothing changed, but sometimes even the backgrounds. I find it a bit distracting at times.

    As Jake Oster notes, one-time DC assistant editor Ethan Mordden has become quite a well-known writer. I've read his books, many on the Broadway musical and Hollywood films but also fiction, for years, and was pleasantly shocked to discover recently that he once worked for DC. I'm guessing he has never commented about this early job of his, but I could be wrong!

    1. I have a lot of fun working on this one, so I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      I am hoping to get in touch with Ethan Mordden eventually here. Maybe he'll be willing to speak about his time on the romance comics?!