Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Advice Columnists of the Romance Comics

No romance comic book of the 1960s or '70s would be complete without an advice column. The columns and their respective columnists not only beefed up the comics, but helped to add a human touch. For your education and enjoyment, here is a rundown of many of the columnists from the romance comics of DC, Marvel, and Charlton.


Carol Andrews was the resident columnist of Falling in Love since the inception of the title in 1955. Her brand of advice was serious and to the point.

Carol Andrews
"To You... from Carol Andrews"
(circa 1965)

By 1967, Carol had ditched the typewriter and realized that blondes do have more fun. Her advice however, remained practical and mature.



Julia Roberts was another columnist who was in it for the long haul. Girls' Romances featured her almost right from the beginning of the series in 1950. With advice similar to Carol Andrews, Julia Roberts was like the all-knowing, stylish aunt everyone wished they had.

Julia Roberts
"Julia Roberts, Romance Counselor"
(circa 1964)

Like Carol, Julia's looks were updated
for a more modern crowd
(1968)


Girls' Romances parallel title, Girls' Love Stories had "From Barbara Miles, With Love." Ms. Miles also occasionally dispensed advice in Heart Throbs.

Nothing fancy for Babs -- a simple banner will do,
thank you very much! (1964)

Eh, never mind -- give her the works! (1966)


Happy to help with any love problem, "Ann Martin, Counselor-At-Love" of Secret Hearts took her job with utmost responsibility, and usually ended her letters with a polite, "Sincerely yours."

Sincere indeed (1968)


As you can see, Jane Ford of "As Jane Ford Sees It..." from early issues of DC's Young Love truly believed in the virtues of brevity.

Jane Ford (circa 1964)

Her 1969 counterpart however?
Not so much -- and that's how I see it.


Every once in a while, there would be a columnist that appeared in more than one DC book. Jill Taylor of "You Can Be Beautiful!" was one such lady. Starting every column with her trademark, "Hi, pussycats!", Jill helped girls of the late '60s attain their full beauty potential in Falling in Love, Girls' Love Stories and Heart Throbs.



Ah, Laura Penn. Where do we begin? How about in the early days of DC's version of the title that started it all, Young Romance?

Here is "Laura Penn... Your Romance Reporter"
as she looked in Young Romance #127 (December/January 1964)

Two short years later, Laura became inundated with letters from the broken hearted and was forced to dye her hair a shade of Wonder Woman.

She must have had to check her P.O. box
a few times a day with all that mail! (1966)

Reading all those letters was difficult on Laura's eyes.
By 1970, she was wearing spectacles.

Laura Penn's popularity was not lost on editors at DC, and by the early '70s she was integrated into sequential stories, such as "No Wedding Ring for Me!" The sequential stories featuring Laura would end without a firm resolution -- creating a perfect opportunity for Ms. Penn to answer the question of the story in her column.

"No Wedding Ring for Me!"
Young Romance
#169 (December/January 1971)


Another popular DC sage was Page Peterson -- best known for her sequential advice "Do's and Dont's of Dating" from Young Romance. Page also dispensed advisement in other titles such as Secret Hearts with headlines like, "Where to Meet Boys" and "How to Hold Your Man."

Page was one proactive lady!


DC had the most variety when it came to advice columnists. Marvel only had one columnist for both My Love and Our Love Story -- Suzan of "Suzan Says." What Marvel lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality and "Suzan Says" came off as friendly, hip and wise. In case you missed my earlier posts of interviews with the women behind Suzan, check them out here (Suzan Loeb) and here (Irene Vartanoff)!



Charlton had two primary female columnists, one being Jennifer White of "Jennifer's Corner," which ran in both Teen Confessions and Secret Romance. As you can see from the first paragraph of the column, Charlton took time to establish the columnist's persona and how they could relate to those who wrote in.



The other lady-columnist of Charlton was Jeanette Copeland. Jeanette was willing to provide readers with the answers to their problems -- but only if they wrote legibly and in pen. With all of the titles that Jeanette advised (Hollywood Romances, Romantic Story, Secret Romance, Teen-Age Love, Sweethearts, Just Married, and Love and Romance), she had no time to decipher chicken scratch.



DC's Marc and Paul weren't the only guys to give readers their opinions on matters of the heart. Charlton brought the male perspective to the table with advice from the clinical Dr. Harold Gluck, and the hipper Buck Mason.


Marc and Paul
Two sides of one coin.



Dr. Gluck started out with a column in the '60s called "Canteen Corner" which appeared in Time for Love.


By the early '70s, Dr. Gluck's column was changed to "Teenage Troubles" and appeared not only in Time for Love but in Career Girl Romances, I Love You, Love Diary, Sweethearts, and Teen-Age Love.



Dr. Gluck's hipper counterpart, Buck Mason wrangled up answers during the mid to late '70s in his column "Buck's Bag" which ran in Time for Love and Teen Confessions.

Groovy!
(circa 1975)


Let us take one more swing past DC for a series of advice columns that I personally find to be the most interesting of all -- Lynn Farrell and Donna Fayne. Lynn Farrell of "Telling It the Way It Is...to Lynn Farrell" had been busy answering letters from readers of Heart Throbs since issue #119 (April/May 1969). In Heart Throbs #137 (January 1972), she made a very important announcement.



Wow, that sure was a big announcement! Marriage! Babies! A replacement! Oh my! Lynn was replaced by her sister, Donna Fayne and her column, "Like It Is!" This column of Donna's also ran in Love Stories, a DC title which will be covered in a future post here at Sequential Crush. Donna's column was also sometimes titled, "Donna Fayne Answers," and according to the announcement was originally intended to be called, "Where It's At."


I hope you have enjoyed this exploration of the various titles and advice columnists of the romance comics of the '60s and '70s. Whether real people or characters devised by editors; these columnists added a dynamic dimension to the romance books, and live on today as valuable resources for information on mid-century social mores.

8 comments:

  1. Great rundown, Jacque! Any speculation on who actually crafted those columns? I always assumed that (at least, up until the 70s) they were done by the editors themselves, but that does bring in an element of creepiness in that you had middle-aged men giving advice to teenage girls!

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  2. What a great post! I especially like seeing how the little portraits changed with the times.

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  3. "Buck Mason" sounds like a porn name, and the fact that "Bag" is in the title of his advice column doesn't help matters much. Oh, how I wish there was a picture to go with that name.

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  4. Great review of this vital component of the genre, Jacque. And that's an important point at the end - definitely gives us a peek into the way we were.

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  5. Not sure how important any of this is in the grand scheme of things but it sure is interesting and fun to read about. Thanks for your work on all this!

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  6. Osgood: Thanks! My best guess (at least for the DC ones) are editors -- possibly female editors? At least the mystery of Marvel's Suzan was solved, and we know that actual young relateable women were writing that column. One of the things that fascinates me most about the romance comics is that men were primarily producing them!

    Ghost: I know right? Very interesting to see the changes in clothing, hairstyles, etc.

    Jared: I can only surmise that Buck had a mustache. :)

    KB: The columns definitely show the vulnerabilities, fears and dreams of the readers. Many are repetitive and run of the mill, but there are a few gems that really dig deep into the state of '60s and '70s courtship. It is worth it for those!

    Booksteve: No prob! It took a while to connect all the dots, but it was fun!

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  7. Blimey, even if she changed my name and other details, I'd still be devastated to be called a 'poor, foolish, unhappy teenager' by Laura Penn (mind, isn't that the teenager's job description?).

    And how sinister, the ever changing array of women claiming to be one person.

    Was the popularity of the romance comics advice columnists the reason Allan Asherman showed up in Lois Lane as The Mystery Columnist?

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  8. Not sure exactly why Asherman was chosen as the LL Mystery Columnist, but he probably would have been knowledgeable about the columns -- I believe he was one of the late editors on Young Love. Who knows -- he could have written some of the romance columns?

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