Romance Comics and Black History Month - Jack Kirby's Unpublished Soul Love

Cover of Soul Love #1 (Unpublished), Image from Heritage Auctions

Cover of Soul Love #1 (Unpublished), Image from Heritage Auctions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 The origin of Soul Love stemmed from another Kirby story, "The Model" in an equally obscure and unpublished "romance" title, True Divorce Cases (see Jack Kirby Collector #56 (Spring 2011) for more info).

"Fears of a Go-Go Girl" page two Soul Love #1 (Unpublished) Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Vince Colletta, Image from Heritage Auctions

"Fears of a Go-Go Girl" page two Soul Love #1 (Unpublished) Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Vince Colletta, Image from Heritage Auctions

The stories in the unpublished Soul Love issue appear to have included (not necessarily in the intended order):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"Diary of the Disappointed Doll" Soul Love #1 (Unpublished) Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Tony DeZuniga, Image from Heritage Auctions

"Diary of the Disappointed Doll" Soul Love #1 (Unpublished) Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Tony DeZuniga, Image from Heritage Auctions

Despite having Kirby's name attached to the project, it went unpublished, and was panned for its awkward use of "hip" language and its Blaxploitation feel.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.