Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post - Justin Bleep Reminisces on Collecting Romance Comics!

Hi Everyone!

Nope, this isn’t Jacque. She has decided to try something different and has let me write a guest post for Sequential Crush. Some quick info about myself:

I’m 31 years old. I live and work in Billund, Denmark. From 8am to 4pm I design children’s toys for LEGO. I experienced a short career drawing comic books between 2003 and 2009. I first fell in love with romance comics in 1997.

And for those who might still be a little confused as to why I’m taking Jacque’s place today -- I’m Justin, Jacque’s boyfriend (and biggest fan)!


I remember 1997 vividly. This year witnessed the beginning of a new life for comics published between 1970 and 1980. And the proof of this is documented -- the increase in interest was reflected in the increase in prices paid for these books. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide reported sales reaching 3000% over the previous year’s listed guide value for many key issues. Particularly, the DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars, which were listed at $3.00 in 1996, demanded hundreds of dollars during the following years. Needless to say, all of the speculation which took place in the early 90’s was completely misplaced. 1997 was a much different year than we collectors of Valiant or Image books could have imagined in 1993!

However, this event in collecting history gave birth to an even more remarkable phenomenon. Romance comic books began to take center stage. In fact, for the first time since the 1950s, the spotlight was not on superhero books. When Overstreet deemed DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #5 (1971) as the rarest of the Bronze Age comic books, we collectors took notice.


During the late 1990s, new classics of comic book history were born. For the first time, Marvel’s Night Nurse (November 1972 – May 1973) became a recognized name in modern comic book culture. And since then, Linda Carter has developed a cult following, appearing in issues of Daredevil, Spider-man and Dr. Strange.

Now, while these romance and other odd-ball books were first recognized for their scarcity in high grade condition, it was not long after, that we collectors took notice of the craftsmanship which went into them. Many of the acclaimed artists who worked on superhero, western and horror books in the 1970s also worked on romance titles -- and to our surprise, some of their best work was contained within them. We found plenty of Nick Cardy covers and Tony DeZuniga interiors, but a few books were of key interest in those early romance comic book collecting days. Neal Adam’s cover to Heart Throbs #120 (June/July 1969) for one, as well as Steranko’s “My Heart Broke in Hollywood” from Our Love Story #5 (June 1970). But our reaction to these two books was merely a knee-jerk. When turning back the covers, we were soon to discover yet a deeper reason for appreciating the romance genre.


Young Love
and Young Romance were two of the longer running titles from this era, and when one stumbles upon a story penciled and inked by Night Nurse artist, Winslow Mortimer (best known for his work on Superman in the 1950s and his work on Spider-Man in the 1970s) it is easy to recognize his work as unique gems within the long run of books. And luckily for us, he dominates the later issues of these two titles!


After seeing his beautiful depictions of Linda, Georgia and Christina, it is clear that Mortimer’s career no longer has to sit in the shadows of the pantheon of Superman artists -- surely it would be futile to contend with names like Shuster if all that posterity remembered you for was Superman! The same could be said for Mortimer’s work on Spidey. In the eyes of collectors, historians and fans, how could his work on Spidey Super Stories compete with the Spider-Man of John Romita, Todd McFarlane or Erik Larsen?

However, in the new territory of romance comic book appreciation, every career is an equal contender. Here we find not only Mortimer, but others who come to our immediate attention. An unfortunate rarity in the DC titles are the gorgeous women of Frank Langford -- a name which is completely absent from the superhero genre.


1997 was a great year. I was 18 years old then, and now look back on it quite romantically. I was a traveler exploring new lands and acquiring new treasures. From Detroit to Chicago to Indianapolis, I took back with me to Lafayette, Indiana hundreds of romance books. All of which were gifted to Jacque around 2008. And though she has acquired many more hundreds over the past few years, you might say that these books were the foundation on which Sequential Crush was built.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! If Jacque lets me, and you’d like it, I would love to write another one for you soon!

♥♥♥

Thanks, Justin!
For more of Justin's writing, visit his blog!

4 comments:

  1. Nice post, Justin. I stopped collecting comics around 1987, but began again in 1997 after selling my complete run of The Amazing Spider-Man to pay off my College loans. This is when I DISCOVERED Romance comics, and re-invigorated my love/hate of Jack Kirby comics and now proclaim myself his biggest fan, collecting exclusively his material ! Funny you mention Night Nurse, as the owner of Captain Blue Hen Comics was an advocate of that comic for years until finally the trend caught up to him !

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  2. Excellent post!

    Langford would've been terrible on super-heroes, so we can be grateful that he didn't dip his toe in that particular pond. He did however draw/paint loads of fabulous comic strips over here in merrie olde England, and they're a joy to behold -- if somewhat difficult to track down.

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  3. I am glad you both liked the post! I thought it would be fun to try something new and from a different perspective. Thanks for reading! :)

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  4. Hi Lysdexicuss.

    I didn’t mention the writing, but yes, Marvel’s Night Nurse offers great characters and story throughout all of the four issues. This series is definitely something to advocate.

    I do remember that the visual aesthetic was enough to keep me excited over this genre. And I still feel that a compelling story merely compliments a well drawn one, and does little to revive a badly drawn one. I suppose that this is the reason I had overlooked the role of the writer in my post. However, I should mention that a major portion of my appreciation of romance comics is, in part, due to the psychological themes inherit in the genre. For me, horror and romance share a close relationship in that they play upon doubt and fear. If the writer develops these themes at all, this is enough to drive the stories for me. In turn, this adds immensely to the visual aesthetic appeal.

    And Jacque, thanks again for choosing some beautiful images to bring this article to life. The Neal Adams next to the Steranko looks amazing!

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