Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On Setting a Love Free - An Update

I know you've heard that old adage, “if you love something, set it free” probably more than once -- and with good reason. It tends to be true. For so many romance comic book characters, setting a loved one free (for whatever reason) is the best thing they ever did, and most of the time, brings them closer to their true path. I am writing this today because I have set something free in my own life, and I want to tell you about it.

Things have been tough. Really tough, actually; mostly courtesy of “career” stuff, AKA the Day Job. As many of you know, I was trained in museum studies. I was fortunate enough to work in the field for many years at some amazing institutions, but since moving to Nashville, I've been unable to find employment in a museum. After two years of volunteering, networking, meetings, interviews, an intense amount of gumption, and doing everything I could to find a museum job here, it has become clear that it is not in the cards. Frankly, I give up. Now, I don't usually encourage people to give up on things, but sometimes, it can be the best course of action. Allow me to explain.

Giving up hope of working in a museum as a day job (at least right now) has been a recent development. Perhaps not surprisingly, the moment I did give up that hope and expectation for myself, I suddenly felt free. Free to focus on the REAL work that is my life’s mission and passion -- comic books! Now, I still need to find a day job that is at least a little less soul crushing than my current one, but in the meantime, I'm going to try to make the best out of everyday and remember that all those years of museum work prepared me to curate and share my love of comic books and history.

Museums are just one of my loves.

I'm telling you all this because you and I, dear readers, go way back! Plus, I have so many creative friends out there, and I know I always find it helpful to read about their struggles and how they've overcome them to do awesome things. I also want to take this opportunity to segue into telling y'all more about the book I've been working on for a while now. 

About two years ago, I began writing a book pitch for a manuscript on a complete history of the 1960s and '70s romance comics. I intended it to be glorious and wonderful, and naturally, so good that no publisher could pass it up. And while I do think it was quite good and I did my very best to make it a stellar document, it straddled the line between too academic and the voice I use here at Sequential Crush. I sent it to a few agents and though not typically advised, directly to a few publishers. I actually got some really great feedback, so not all was lost, but ultimately, no one was interested. After not getting any bites, I retooled the book idea, and decided to really narrow in on one component of the romance comics… the advice columns! It will be a smaller, illustrated book that will cover the wisdom of the romance comics, and show that though some of the advice is dated, much of it is timeless. I still have every intention of writing the larger book in the future, because I believe a complete history of the 1960s and 1970s is vital to the preservation of the genre.

As for the advice book -- I don't have a final title for it yet, but I am done writing the first draft and am in the editing process. Once the writing is polished, I will begin working on the design aspect of the book. I plan on doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help fund the illustrator/designer, as well as help with printing costs since I will be self-publishing. I hope that when that day comes, you might consider donating a little somethin’ somethin’!

I am so looking forward to finishing this book. Not only will it feel great to complete a large project, I feel like this book is just the start and will help get the ball rolling on all the other book projects and ideas I have up my sleeve. In the meantime, I'm excited about my decision to let go of the expectation for myself to have a day job in a museum, and all the emotional exhaustion that went with it. Maybe in the future that love will return, but for now, the comic books fully and completely have my heart.

Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey -- you are the best! I promise it will be worth it!

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Patsy and Hedy's Special Graduation Issue!

Graduation season is upon us! This evening I have for you a "don't dare miss it!!" story from Patsy and Hedy #95 (August 1964), celebrating the duo's graduation from high school. I often get requests for Patsy Walker stories and though they are not quite romance, I do collect a few of these and think they're fantastic. "Patsy's Graduation Day" by Stan Lee and Al Hartley (with what looks to be more than one inker) is a cute story of dashed expectations, and female friendship in the midst of disappointment. I'd like to dedicate this post to my little sister, Lisette, who not only just turned 18, but will be graduating from high school in a few weeks! Go Lisette! For anyone graduating this year, please accept my most sincere congratulations on your huge step in the path of life! Now, on to the story...

Patsy and her friends are excited! It is nearly graduation day and for Patsy and the gang, it means an entry into the "romantic world of young adults!"

While dreaming of the future, Patsy talks with her mother about what's next. Her mom asks her if she's made up her mind as to what she wants to do after graduation, but Patsy lets her know she isn't in much of a hurry to decide and wants to treasure her last days of high school. Patsy also tells her mom that she is gunning for class valedictorian. Wisely, her mother warns her of getting her hopes up. In another house, Hedy Wolfe is certain that she will be selected as head of the class.

All that talk of the future puts Patsy in the mood to shop and before long, it's time for a fashion break! While at the boutique, "The Fashion Plate," Patsy bumps into friend Nan, and the two start trying on the latest designs (sent in by readers, as was customary for the Marvel teen humor books) in order to look their best at graduation.

Patsy finds a dress she adores, but unfortunately, it is out of her price-range at $150 (accounting for inflation, at the time of publication, that was the equivalent of about $1,135). Already downtrodden, Hedy strolls in and tells Patsy that if she isn't buying the dress, she will scoop it up for herself. Hedy winds up purchasing the dress. Patsy walks out of the store, dejected, but Nan and Buzz (who just sort of appeared out of nowhere) try to comfort Patsy. Buzz declares, "You, my ravishing redhead, are going to make me five dollars richer!" When Patsy and Nan inquire how, Buzz lets them know that he bet their classmate, Ron, $5 that Patsy would be chosen valedictorian over Hedy.

In a moment that is a little perplexing considering the top of the third page has Patsy telling her mother she expects to be declared valedictorian, Patsy goes home after running into Buzz and frets, "Gosh, I hadn't even thought about being chosen class valedictorian... But now, with Buzz counting on me -- it's become important!"

Patsy is hopeful about her chances however, because the quest for valedictorian is one that unlike everything else, Hedy can't purchase. Patsy decides that one way to ensure her success is to take a public speaking course. Another fashion moment ensues when Patsy goes to register for the class in her "new career-girl suit." Though motivated by competition, Patsy's hope for her after life after high school is commendable!

Meanwhile, Nan reflects on how glad she is that she isn't competing for class valedictorian and plans out how she'll spend her summer. Nan decides to go swim suit shopping. Upon leaving the store, Nan runs into her jolly friend, Tubs. The two discuss the quest for valedictorian, and how both Patsy and Hedy are eager to win the title. Hedy overhears the conversation and begins to panic.

Hedy decides she must launch a campaign to convince their teacher, Miss Bliss, that she should be chosen head of the class. After a dreamy montage of what Hedy thinks being chosen will grant her, Miss Bliss brings both Patsy and Hedy back to reality -- reminding them that they will not be elected valedictorian, but rather, chosen by merit.

Neither young woman is deterred by the revelation, and each feels that their grades will put them ahead. Nan feels badly for them both -- someone's feelings are going to get hurt.

The big day arrives when the valedictorian is announced. Patsy heads off to school, sure that she will be given top honors. Her little brother, Mickey is understandably put off by his sister's corniness.

When Patsy arrives at school, she feels all eyes on her. Thinking she most certainly has been chosen, she exhibits pity for a confused looking Nan.

As Patsy nears the posting, she sees Hedy. Judging from the shocked look on Ms. Wolfe's face, Patsy's enthusiasm continues to grow. Before Patsy rounds the corner to see the sign, Buzz attempts to stop her, but Patsy confidently tells Buzz he can congratulate her after. Ohhhhh boy. Not good. Not good at all. I think you can see where this is going... A dark horse has emerged -- Nan!

Patsy and Hedy come together, both shocked at the turn in events. Patsy realizes that in all the confusion they neglected to congratulate Nan. In a touching moment, Patsy and Hedy sincerely let Nan know how very proud they are of her. The night of graduation, Nan delivers a rousing speech thanking not only her parents and teachers, but Patsy and Hedy -- "two close chums whose standards have always been the highest!"

The story ends with the three friends even closer than they were before the whole valedictorian drama, and a hopeful editorial message at the bottom of the panel teases what's ahead for the three "kookiest, cutest, greatest gals in the whole wide world!"

I really like this story, even though it has some moments where motivation on behalf of Patsy and Hedy is slightly questionable. I like the message of female friendship at the end, and despite any cattiness throughout the story, the ladies are able to come together to give credit where credit is due. All in all, a cute story! I try not to collect too far outside the bounds of the romance comics to keep my collection manageable, but I may have to one day invest in the issues that follow this particular one. After this "Special Graduation Issue" until issue #108 (October 1966), the book would be subtitled "Career Girls" to reflect Patsy and Hedy's new status as working women.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ginchy! Fab! Groovy! A Birthday Remembrance of Romance Comic Book Great - Win Mortimer

Holy cow it's May! How did that happen?! The year is certainly flying, but let's slow things down and take a moment to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest romance artists ever -- Win Mortimer! Mortimer is hands down one of my personal favorite comic book artists of all time, and if you take a look at this cute "Cindy the Salesgirl!" story from Falling in Love #98 (April 1968) , I think you'll see why. I believe this to be the first appearance of shopgirl Cindy, and although I posted part of the story a few years ago, I wanted to post the whole thing today to really give you a good look at the genius that is Win Mortimer. Enjoy! 

In future installments, Cindy would continue to model outfits for her demanding customers -- always with a humorous, surprise ending. Not only were the fashions divine in the "Cindy the Salesgirl!" stories, they were a creative way in which to present to readers a fashion featurette in sequential form. I dig!!!

Does the "skimpy" outfit on page five look familiar?
Mad Men Image from Fashion Magazine 

Thank you Mortimer for everything! You and your work will not be forgotten anytime soon!

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