Guest Post - Iconic Romance Comic Book Covers (Updated: R.I.P., Tony DeZuniga)

UPDATE: I was extremely saddened upon waking up this morning to hear that Tony DeZuniga passed away not long after I published this guest post. Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends. Not only will Tony be remembered for characters such as Jonah Hex and the Black Orchid, he will also be remembered for his stunning contribution to the romance genre. Hopefully, this post now serves as a fitting tribute for Mr. DeZuniga...

(Original post) If you were reading Sequential Crush last spring then you may remember a guest post by Justin Bleep. This evening, I have another one for you by Justin! He actually wrote this a few months back, but it seems especially fitting now since thankfully, Tony DeZuniga is recovering from his illness of a few weeks ago. Enjoy! 

A comic book cover is something remarkable. It serves a much higher purpose than the cover of a book, whether that book is a piece of historic literature or a contemporary fiction novel. The comic book cover’s utility is more accurately compared with a movie poster or teaser. But once the cover has succeeded in its intention and the buyer has removed the book from among its competition on the newsstand, a new purpose begins—one which serves a far deeper, and much more human function. A comic book cover becomes a sentimental artifact.

Specifically, a comic book cover can remind us of the enjoyment experienced when reading the book. Or more generally, it can embody an icon. We can take for our example Fantastic Four #1, The Amazing Spider-Man #122, Uncanny X-Men #141 or Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. And icons of horror are not limited to Vault of Horror #12, Haunt of Fear #17 or Tales from the Crypt #46. However, what is regrettably absent for fans of the romance comic genre is a consensus on the classic romance cover.

Now, when thinking about romance covers, two immediately come to mind -- Matt Baker’s Giant Comics Editions #12 and Super DC Giant #S-21.

Giant Comics Editions  #12 cover via The Comicartville Library

Giant Comics Editions #12 cover via The Comicartville Library

Super DC Giant  #S-21 via the  Grand Comics Database

Super DC Giant #S-21 via the Grand Comics Database

But what about the many issues of Young Love and Young Romance—or Girls’ Love Stories and Girls’ Romances? Are there any covers which break the monotony in a long series, cover after cover? Is there any book within the romance comic genre similar to Witching Hour #13?—a cover which is simply an icon of the craftsmanship of the genre.

To fill this void I name the following three covers:

Falling in Love  #122 (April 1971)

Falling in Love #122 (April 1971)

Girls’ Romances  #155 (March 1971)

Girls’ Romances #155 (March 1971)

Young Love  #85 (March/April 1971)

Young Love #85 (March/April 1971)

These amazing images are exceptional on two accounts: 1) the uniqueness of style, and 2) the close span of time in which they appear. Because of these two conditions, I am led to believe that these three beautifully crafted covers are from the hands of the same artist. But who? An obvious guess is either Tony DeZuniga or perhaps even Gray Morrow. Heritage is consistent in attributing these to DeZuniga, here and here.

In any case, these three covers are a testament to how truly remarkable the aesthetic of the romance book genre can be.

Thanks, Justin! I love these three covers as well. May I also nominate Falling in Love #121 as one of these iconic covers? They are so dynamic and really set romance apart from other comic book genres. What do you think, romance fans? Do you like these three covers? Are there any covers that you propose embody the essence of romance comics?