Thursday, December 30, 2010

Romance Under the Covers - Love Stories #149 (March/April 1973)

I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday! I know I did, but at the same time, I was anxious to get back to reading comics! Today I have for you the third issue in DC's brief series, Love Stories (March/April 1973). This issue has a very groovy and provocative cover -- though it is one of those covers that is a tad misleading. Let's just say that what appears to be going on in the cover image does not happen in the corresponding interior story, "Man Shy." While the activities of the cover image would have made for an interesting romance story -- the "Marriage and Sex" clause of the Comics Code of 1971 probably would have frowned on anything more seductive than the innocent cover scene!*

The art on this first story looks to me a bit like the art from a story I blogged last month, "Too Tall to Love." It was discussed in the comments of that post that Jack Katz was likely responsible for the pencils, and Mike Esposito for the inks. "Man Shy" looks to me to be the work of a similar (if not the same) creative team. In it, miniskirt-donning Holly warns other girls to avoid her mistake of being terrified of love.


In a desperate bid to change her spinster fate, Holly attends an "Encounter Group" session -- a type of group psychotherapy popular during the '60s and '70s. There she meets an equally shy guy named Jeff, who instantly puts her at ease. As they continue to go on dates with each other, Holly begins to feel herself changing and truly coming out of her shell. Jeff, however; remains timid and unable to convey his admiration for her without chickening out.


When Jeff finally declares his love for her and proposes marriage, Holly declines. She cites her new lease on life, "...I've changed. I'm not what I was when we met." But her sentiments aren't enough to stop Jeff from pursuing her.


While Jeff continues to try to ask Holly out, she becomes quite extroverted and popular -- opening up many avenues and opportunities for fantastic dates with interesting young men. Though she is having a blast playing the field, it appears she secretly pines for Jeff. One night, at a dance, Jeff meekly tries to make a move on Holly and she snaps at him for being so continually apprehensive. Apparently, Jeff received the message and stops pursuing Holly, much to her dismay. In an effort to rebuild their relationship, Holly returns to where it all started and is received with open palms by Jeff.


I found the next story, "His Other Wife!" (with pencils that look to be by Mike Sekowsky) enjoyable primarily because it is a sort of throwback to the old Western Romances that were so briefly popular in the late '40s and early '50s. Carol, a very cosmopolitan young woman accustomed to her urban lifestyle in New York City loves Jason. Jason is handsome and successful, but there are two problems Carol sees in marrying him. For one, he wants to move her out of the city and onto a ranch he has purchased.


The other thing standing in the way of marital bliss is the memory of Jason's recently departed wife, Susan.


Carol had always felt some jealousy towards Susan and after her death it was no different. Even as Jason and Carol grew close, Carol always felt that Jason would never love her as much as he had loved Susan.


Despite her anxieties and fears of measuring up, Carol married Jason -- in one of the sassiest wedding gowns I have ever seen and Go-go boots, no less!


After the wedding, Jason sweeps Carol off of her feet and carries her over the threshold of their new home on their new country ranch. However, the euphoric state of newlywed-hood is short-lived as Jason works harder on running the ranch than on their marriage.


Jason's days consist primarily of sleeping, tending to the cattle, working on the ranch's finances, and ordering Carol around. Resentment creeps in. Carol realizes that not only does Jason treat her like a workhorse, but he treats her far differently than the pampered Susan.


Efforts on Carol's behalf to discuss her feelings are consistently shot down and she sees no other choice than to leave Jason and head back to New York City. Carol's plan to run off is terminated when she notices it is snowing. The realization that the entire herd on the ranch is in great peril is enough to convince her to return.


All through the night and what eventually turned into three days, Carol helps Jason and the hired-hands in bringing the cattle out of the snow drifts to ensure their survival. Once the heard is safe and the snow ends, Carol and Jason have the awkward task of confronting each other about why Carol was leaving him. She asks him why he doesn't love her as much as he loved Susan, and he explains that he loves her in a different way. He declares his admiration for her strength and courage. Needing no more words, the two embrace against the snowy backdrop of the ranch.


The final story in this issue is an Art Saaf drawn tale titled, "Pretty Chick!" Marcia works at a car hop. One evening while on duty, she is surprised by the presence of the very famous actor, Sean Saunders.


Sean says he is passing through and she caught his eye. He apparently wants some company for the evening, but doesn't want his reputation sullied by "making it with some unknown smalltown chick." He has his friend Mike pretend that he is the one on a date with Marcia.


Marcia is troubled not only by the fact that Sean doesn't want to be seen with her, but that he is so rude and bossy towards Mike. As it turns out, Sean and Mike aren't friends at all. Mike was an out of work actor and now works for Sean as a "Beard."


When Sean asks Mike to fetch him another woman, Mike tells him to buzz off. In the end, it is Mike who Marcia falls for -- not the self-absorbed famous actor!


To wrap things up, here is another installment of "Like It Is!" with advice columnist, Donna Fayne!


Well, friends -- that is all from me for 2010! I hope you enjoyed this issue of Love Stories! I will be back in 2011 (aka Monday, January 3rd) with a brand new year of romance comic book goodness! I have some really great things planned for January, including a giveaway and a new monthly feature, so I hope that you will join me!!!

Happy New Year!!!

♥ ♥ ♥

* Whether the Code was abided by at this time or not, technically, under the "Marriage and Sex" section of the 1971 rewrite of the original Comics Code, the following points were expected to be adhered to:

1. Divorce shall not be treated humorously or represented as desirable.
2. Illicit sex relations are not to be portrayed and sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
3. All situations dealing with the family unit should have as their ultimate goal the protection of the children and family life. In no way shall the breaking of the moral code be depicted as rewarding.
4. Rape shall never be shown or suggested. Seduction may not be shown.
5. Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.

9 comments:

  1. Hi Jacque!

    A nice batch of interesting stories here. Art wise I suspect you're right about the credits. "Msn Shy" does look like the work of Katz, inked by Esposito. "His Other Wife is Sekowsky, inked again by Esposito. I believe the inker of the Saaf story is Vince Colletta.

    Thanks for keeping up with the blog and presenting so many interesting and different stories throughout the year. Have a very Happy New Year and see you in 2011!

    Nick C.

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  2. The bit about the carhop and the actor reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut play with about the same scenario, only it's an Ernest Hemingway type instead of an actor, and the carhop educates herself after marrying him and becomes quite a smart woman. Cannot remember the title, though.

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  3. Love the second story -- a romance comic that I looked at recently had a "dead wife" angle going too, though it wasn't as integral to the plot as this one. And it's always fun to revisit the prim puritanical clauses of the Comics Code, isn't it?

    Happy New Year.

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  4. "Illicit sex relations are not to be portrayed and sexual abnormalities are unacceptable."

    Jeez, what's left? Happy new year, my dear!!

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  5. Nick: Thanks for the confirmation of the artists! It is good to know that I have such good identifiers around me, since I am still learning! Happy New Year to you as well -- I am hoping 2011 is a great one!

    darkmark: I have to admit, I am not up on my Vonnegut, but I have a feeling the story was inspired by something from its time. Wishing you a happy 2011!!!

    Jared: Happy New Year to you too! The deceased wife plot-line is rather common in these romance tales! The previous Love Stories I covered (#148) also had basically the same plot in "The Extra Woman." I wonder which one you were looking at...?

    Mykal: I know, right?! Actually, I think I like these romance comics so much because they are sweet and not seedy! Wishing you a great year as well!

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  6. Jacque: " I think I like these romance comics so much because they are sweet and not seedy!"

    Me too.

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  7. Good to know I am not alone, Mykal! I think that is why I can't really seem to get into romance novels. Oh well!

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  8. Happy New Year, Jacue, loved the rundown. I must say, the young lovers in the first story should probably just be friends, it seems that neither are really ready for a relationship.

    As for the second, blimey, Carol should have kept on walking after the cattle were saved ... suddenly Jason, who uses her as a housekeeper while he spends all his time with the ranch hands, respects her? Yeah, right, thank you Billy Brokeback!

    I'm intrigued by the beard business in the third story ... I wonder if a more relaxed Comics Code would have resulted in Sean being revealed as not actually into the ladies.

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  9. Yay! Glad you enjoyed the post, Martin! I had never heard of a beard before writing this post, so it was interesting to look up!

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