Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parents Just Don't Understand - Tomorrow is too Late

I am constantly scouring the web, trying to find any and all information about romance comics. From what I have found, some read romance comics and only see the stories that are simplistic tales of girl meets boy, girl waits by the phone for boy to call, girl cries, and so on and so forth. Some only see outdated social mores that are laughable and silly.

I don't. I have read enough romance stories now that I can say that -- yes, there are those stories that are simplistic and frivolous. To say that though and leave it at that, is too much of a generalization. The thing is, every genre has its examples of bad stories, but there are also some really good ones out there that make you feel something. A something that resonates deep down and gets you to think. This four page story, "Tomorrow is too Late" from Young Love #113 (December 1974/January 1975), illustrated by Creig Flessel is one such story.

This short romance tale weaves the reader into the sadness brought on by a young woman's rocky relationship with her mother. It has qualities rather similar to that of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle," which incidentally came out around the same time as this romance story. Hinging on the theme of the passage of time and regret, "Tomorrow is too Late" makes for an unexpected read.






You probably never thought a four page comic book romance story could leave you feeling that depressed, huh? The ending is sad in itself, but I think the abruptness with which the poem-like story ends adds to the tragedy.

Romance comics tend to get dogged on for being only about unrequited, puppy dog love that is kitschy and outdated, but I think this story is to the contrary. The genre can be generalized quite a bit, but it takes finding gems like "Tomorrow is too Late" to realize just how lovable and diverse in subject matter the romance comics from the 1960s and '70s really can be.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And Now, A Story...

...Oh, nope! Just kidding. Its all over folks, nothing to see here!
Move along, move along.

It looks like the writer on this one was a true believer in
Shakespeare's theory on brevity!

Sweethearts #120 (November 1971)
Pencils by Charles Nicholas, Inks by Vincent Alascia

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Am I Too Young?

I present to you "Donna Fayne Answers" from Heart Throbs #143 (July 1972). Her advice is pretty solid, and she seems kind and sincere. Unlike someone else I know of... cough*marc*cough!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Hippy and the Cop

During the 1960s and '70s, students across the nation questioned authority. The injustices in the South made them question authority, as did the Vietnam War.

It is no surprise that romance comics attempted (though sometimes insufficiently) to follow the relevant issues of the day.

Charlton's "The Hippy and the Cop" from Just Married #77 (June 1971) does just that by pitting characters from two diametrically opposed social groups against one another.

Drawn by Art Cappello and inked by Vincent Alascia, "The Hippy and the Cop" tells the story of Barbara, a studious senior at UCLA. Her friends are into Student Power, but Barbara has no time for such things -- although she doesn't say so outright. Her boyfriend Mitch Allen comes by and sees that her friends are protesting again. While discussing the ironic violent practices of the peace groups on campus, Barbara notices a mysterious package.

Is being a cube worse than being a square?

The package turns out to be a bomb. Thanks to Mitch's cool, calm head and quick thinking, he is able to put out the fire caused by the bomb. Barbara remarks that she can't believe a boy she knows would have done such a thing. Mitch is shocked that she knows who planted the package, and asks for his name. Without hesitation she tells him -- Eldon Sayers.


The next day when Barbara gets to campus, she learns from the other students in the movement that Eldon has been arrested. The other students are suspicious and wonder how the "fuzz" found out. As Barbara mulls over who she told, she sees Mitch at a police car and realizes that her boyfriend is an undercover cop!


Barbara is furious about this revelation, and as she shouts "let me go, cop" the guys from the movement fly over with fisticuffs.


As Barbara watches in tears, the other students taunt Mitch. They even throw raw eggs at him, soiling his undercover "regular college guy" outfit. Splattered with yolk, he thanks Barbara for not throwing one at him. News travels swiftly that the students are headed to a demonstration at the administration building. They plan to occupy it and ultimately shut down the school.

The police are right behind though, with Mitch heading the operation, this time in his uniform. As the students continue to hurl insults at him, Barbara hurls one of her own -- to the students! She tells them that never liked their movement anyhow and that she was stupid for listening to them. Barbara then proclaims her love for Mitch and announces that she will be marrying him.

You are such a good friend, Lanie!

Overall, its a pretty entertaining story with a compelling cover, also by Cappello. Just as there are multiple stories of the Women's Movement in the romance comics, there are also quite a few stories of Student Power. One thing I have noticed though with the student movement stories is that they are very general and the students just seem to be protesting for the sheer pleasure of protesting. The resistance never seems to fully develops their grievances or articulate what specifically they are fighting for. I know it is a lot to ask for in an eight-page story, but I think the characters in the Women's Movement stories tend to be more convincing in their rhetoric.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fashion Files - Dates 'N' Mates, Estrada Style

This Estrada piece from Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969)
is a nice way to start a Thursday, don't you think?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion Files - The Peter Pan Look

Flipping through the pages of romance comics from 1969 to 1971 yield a plethora of monochromatic green outfits -- usually involving green tights. Fashion statement or perhaps an overabundance of green ink in those years? You decide!!!

Secret Hearts #133 (January 1969)


Girls' Romances #143 (September 1969)
Cover by John Rosenberger


Girls' Romances #138 (January 1969)
Pencils by Vince Colletta


Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969)


Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Pencils by Wally Wood


Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Pencils by John Rosenberger


Young Love #81 (August 1970)


Heart Throbs #130 (February/March 1971)



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love Me Tonight, Forget Me Tomorrow - Falling in Love's Portrayal of the Women's Movement

"Love Me Tonight, Forget Me Tomorrow" is another tale of the Women's Movement in romance comics. This one hails from DC's Falling in Love #121 (February 1971), published just one month before "No Man is My Master." Similar in nature to Marvel's story, this one also grapples with the conflicting emotions of female liberation.

In it, Alice, a headstrong young woman who works for a magazine is determined to prove that she is equal to men. The story opens with Alice trying to pay her portion of the cost of the date. Her boyfriend (and co-worker), Bob isn't too hot on this idea as he wants to have treated her for once -- instead of going Dutch .

**Side note: "Going Dutch" was not the social norm in post-World War II American culture as it is now. If it was a necessity due to lack of funds or for another reason, it was proper etiquette for the girl to slip the guy her money in private before the public date.


When Bob offers to pay, the discussion erupts into a small scale argument. Alice delivers her thoughts on Women's Liberation, and the reader gets the idea that this wasn't the first time she had told Bob her feelings. He replies with words reminiscent of those in the My Love story, "...make like me Tarzan, you Jane?"


Alice is greeted by her mother who inquires about the evening. Alice, obviously still reeling from her discussion with Bob, has a hard time understanding why her mother would have sacrificed her life and career for the domestic life.


As any mother would, Alices's mom gives her some advice to ponder. She warns Alice to not lose sight of the difference between being a female and being feminine. Her mother also tells her to remember to keep her cool and not get so emotional around Bob. While falling asleep that night, Alice wonders if she is doomed to be successful and lonely, having only her work. She thinks about all the wonderful times she has had with Bob, and laments that he has fogged up her vision.

The next day at work brings Alice's focus back, as she seems to genuinely love her job at the magazine. She is called into the bosses office for an important, unexpected meeting. The boss, Russell reveals that he has decided to make her Editor-in-Chief due to her excellent work ethic, drive and ambition.


Alice is pleased with her promotion, until she sees Bob in the hallway who congratulates her by affectionately teasing her and calling her "boss lady." In that moment, the thrill of her success quickly wears off -- she believes she has lost Bob. To every one's surprise at her coronation meeting, Alice throws a curve ball by announcing that Bob is more deserving of the position. She is then taken off guard when Bob reveals that he was initially offered the position, but turned it down -- since he knew she had wanted it so badly.


Though the story may have been a bit disappointing for the plight of the Women's Movement, I do not think that all hope is lost in it. The last panel displays Alice's reverence for equality -- and in a way, the writer's respect for it. This story mixes the private and the public spheres of love and career, without trivializing their mutual impact on one another. Women (and men) no doubt had difficult choices to make about what was best for them concerning love and equality. In a time when the notion of a woman having a career outside the home was beginning to gain traction, this story serves well to exemplify the complexities of having it all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Man is My Master - My Love's Portrayal of the Women's Movement

The late 1960s and early 1970s were dynamic -- to say the least. Chock full of changing attitudes towards people of various ethnic groups, women, and other marginalized individuals -- the years of the "Long Civil Rights Movement" (a term used to broaden the confines of what is traditionally thought of as the Civil Rights Movement, into time and place outside of the 1950s/1960s American South) are clearly portrayed in romance comics. The (intended) audience of young females consuming romance comics made for the perfect crowd for communicating thoughts on the Women's Movement.

"No Man is My Master" from My Love #10 (March 1971) is only one example of many. One of the predominant reoccurring themes in the romance comics of the late '60s and early '70s was the Women's Movement and its effect on character relationships. Like any blossoming social revolution, the romance comics dealt with issues of feminism in various ways. Many of the stories seem to have good intentions behind them, but fall flat -- especially for today's reader. One has to question the intentions of this story though, as the main character -- Bev comes off as flaky and naïve.

The cover (John Buscema) of this issue depicts a young woman who is torn between "female freedom" and her boyfriend. The interior, written by Stan Lee, penciled by Buscema and inked by John Verpoorten tells a similar story -- but with a different outcome than one may think based on the cover.


We are given a glimpse into the date of Bev and Nick, an attractive young couple. It becomes quickly evident that despite his good looks, Nick is bossy, brutish and self-absorbed. Not the most attractive qualities in a potential mate! Bev is obviously distressed about the state of their relationship, but carries on anyway.


The next day, Bev is convinced by a friend to attend a "female freedom rally." Bev is moved by the message on a personal level. From the rally she takes away the realization that Nick is no good for her.


After the rally, Bev resolves herself to only date men that treat her as an equal. The next time she speaks with Nick on the phone, she lets him know that she is going to be busy for a while. In the time away from him, Bev dates boys who are respectful, mild-mannered and who value her opinions. The men she dates let her take control of their outings -- they let her decide what to do and where to go. Bev becomes put off by this though, as she feels they are meek and indecisive. After an unsuccessful date one night, Bev rethinks her liberation.


Thinking that she has misunderstood equal rights, Bev ceases her casual dates with nice, respectful men and waits by the phone for Nick to call. Eventually he does, and comes over for a visit where he so supportively asks, "did you get whatever was buggin' you out of your system?" Nice!


Nick's tired, cheesy, barbaric line tugs at Bev's heartstrings and their embrace is tagged as "the start -- of something lovely!" Lovely indeed!!!

Before reading the story and purely based on the cover, I really thought the leading lady was going to stick to her new found idealism, but that is my bias from being a female of today. One has to remember when reading these stories, that they need to be understood within the context of the rise of the Women's Movement -- which to some was probably confusing, tumultuous and even upsetting. To today's reader, this story may just seem like a silly and sad product of mass culture. In reality though, this romance story should not be easily dismissed, as it helps give perspective to the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanied the large-scale social change of the early 1970s.

Monday, September 14, 2009

All the Girls are Wild about Marc!


Marc, the playfully-jerky advice columnist made his third appearance in Young Love #92 in February of 1972. He left no subject untouched, including the Women's Movement -- as seen in the last letter from this issue.

Grotesque Crumb-buns!
Take that Marc!!!

It is interesting to see the advice columns of the late '60s and early '70s change from strictly love advice to commentary on the Women's Movement and liberation. Not only were the advice columns confronting the subject head on -- the stories were too, as we will see Wednesday in the My Love story, "No Man is My Master." Until then, enjoy the "tender" stylings of Marc!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poll Results - Groovy Age Romance Comic Publishers

Good evening! The results for the latest Sequential Crush poll are in!

Out of the thirteen votes this time around, DC won as the favorite publisher (eight votes). Charlton came in next with four votes, and Marvel received one vote. Poor Skywald, publisher of the short-lived Tender Love Stories (1971) received zero votes.

They can't all be winners!
Check out Gorilla Daze for more info on this one!

Thanks to all who voted this time around!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What If Disney Had Bought Charlton in the 1970s...

...and made romance comics?

They would probably have looked something like this...

Page from "The Bad Scene" drawn by Art Cappello
Love Diary # 100 (August 1976)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fashion Files - Dates 'N' Mates!

The weather has been gloriously fall-like lately, and in honor of the weather getting cooler please enjoy these fashions drawn by Jay Scott Pike from Young Romance #157 (December 1968/January 1969). I know it is not this cool out yet, but one can dream!


"Yep -- your gramps was a swinger!"

That's all for me folks! I am going on vacation to see some family for the holiday weekend. I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day! See you next week!
Comic Blog Elite