Saturday, February 28, 2015

Romance Comics and Black History Month - Jack Kirby's Unpublished Soul Love

Cover of Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)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 The origin of Soul Love stemmed from another Kirby story, "The Model" in an equally obscure and unpublished "romance" title, True Divorce Cases.*

"Fears of a Go-Go Girl" page two
Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Vince Colletta
Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)
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The stories in the unpublished Soul Love issue appear to have included (not necessarily in the intended order):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"
Pencils: Jack Kirby, Inks: Tony DeZuniga
Soul Love #1 (Unpublished)
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Despite having Kirby's name attached to the project, it went unpublished, and was panned for its awkward use of "hip" language and its Blaxploitation feel.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.

*See Jack Kirby Collector #56 (Spring 2011)

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from Sequential Crush - Thoughts on Romance, Comics, and True Love

"One More Summer"
Pencils: Mike Sekowsky, Inks: Bernard Sachs
Secret Hearts #115 (October 1966)

Happy Valentine's Day! I know the day is nearing an end and evening has crept in, but I just wanted to drop in and say hello. I hope you enjoyed your day with your loved ones -- whether they be friends, family, or a significant other, and that more than anything, you felt the love today.

To tell you the truth, I've always had a really tough time conceptualizing Valentine's Day posts, and this year, the sixth Valentine's Day since I started Sequential Crush, is no exception. I always feel this immense pressure to do something a-m-a-z-i-n-g to commemorate the romantic holiday, and always feel like a let down. I don't know. Maybe I need a mentor who writes a Christmas blog and see how they structure their December 25th post! Seriously though, I felt so much anxiety over posting something earth-shattering for the holiday this year, that part of me was like, meh! Nevermind!

But, something made me change my mind. I started thinking about love and what it means to me in my own life. The past couple of weeks have been quite a bit more stressful than usual for yours truly. I'm in the middle of moving. As I write this, I am actually sitting in my old house, surrounded by the broom, mop, and other assorted cleaning supplies I'm supposed to be using right now. After enjoying my own little living and workspace for two years now, I'm moving to a house with my handsome, loving, generous, and supportive boyfriend. I feel awesome about this move and our future, but because of the move (which is a stressor I think many of you can identify with), coupled with unfulfilling day jobs, and never enough time together because we are working said jobs, I've been a little down. These are the stresses in life that make us lose focus on what's really important -- love.

The thing I love about romance comics is that they give me hope. Despite their beautiful hair, stunning clothes, and perfectly proportioned bodies (well, usually -- sometimes those Charlton comics can be a little iffy), the romance comic book characters are imperfect. Flawed men and women with neuroses, hangups, and vulnerabilities. Romance comics get a ton of flack for being unrealistic and outdated, but for the most part -- they are entertaining, and in many ways, comforting. Though many of the romance stories are problematic from a modern view when it comes to gender issues and diversity, overall, the romance comics of the '60s and '70s are full of identifiable situations, characters, and stories. Love is not perfect. Love is messy. Love is damn hard sometimes. But, as the romance comics so beautifully demonstrate with their breathtaking finale kisses, it is so undoubtedly worth it.

So tonight, if you are feeling low on hope, crack open a romance comic or flip through past posts here at Sequential Crush. I think you'll find that the stories will give you comfort that everything will end Happily Ever After.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Saturday, January 31, 2015

500 Posts + The Aquarius Woman Horoscope Page

"The Aquarius Woman"
Secret Hearts #150
(March 1971)

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a relaxing Saturday, and an excellent start to your weekend. If you are an Aquarius lady or if you know one, I think you'll really dig this DC horoscope page. It is especially fitting since the bulk of the comics we look at here on Sequential Crush are from the "Age of Aquarius!" I love these particular horoscope pages -- I have yet to dig them all up, but "The Gemini Woman" and "The Taurus Woman" are delightful as well. 

Today is a big day for the blog -- today's post is the 500th! I can hardly believe it. Though I'm more of a "slow blogger" these days, I am reminded of when I first started and thought to myself, "How long can I keep this up? Will I be able to make this last?" Well, here we are over six years and 500 posts later! I'm not quite where I want to be, but I feel like I'm getting closer every day. As always, thank you so much for stopping by, and I'd love to hear if you've had any favorite posts over the years! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday – Early Comic Book Memories

DC "Jam Poster"
Image from Heritage Auctions
Images from childhood can be hard to erase from the brain’s cache, especially when they are ones we remember providing us with intrigue and fuel for the imagination.

I've been thinking about the above image quite a lot lately. It is known as the DC “jam poster,” and was commissioned for The History of the DC Universe book in the late ‘80s. In it, many of the original artists depicted their own characters and signed their names at the bottom, including my grandfather. I never had the opportunity to see it, but a mural of it was even at the DC offices for years before it was replaced with an updated version. Over the past few months, I've been seeing the image pop up on my Facebook feed and in various articles, and it got me thinking -- was this the image that started my love affair with comic books?

Things are a bit hazy on this memory, but when I was about four years old, my grandparents received a copy of the poster. For whatever reason, it made its way over to our house. It was in a simple frame, and like many things in our home (a small house stuffed to the gills with five small children), it never quite made it up to a hanging position on the wall. But just because it wasn't displayed gallery-style is no indicator that it wasn't valued or loved.

Little me, one of my brothers,
and our maternal grandfather circa 1988.
I've asked some of my siblings if they remember the poster, and while they do, they don't really have any other memories of it besides it just being there. When I asked my oldest sister Shannon about the poster's place in the house, she remarked, “It's funny... I never felt like there was any sign of superhero stuff in my childhood at all. But I guess I just didn't really notice. Or it just blended in.”

I, on the other hand, will never forget its presence in our home and the impact it had on me.

Like I said before, perhaps this image is where my love of comic books started. I don't recollect doing it, but somehow, the framed poster would make its way down to the floor, just around the corner from the dining room table and next to the radiator. I would lie on my tummy (just as I would often do with my treasured Zoobooks), and for what seemed like hours, would go over the characters that were splayed out in front of me. I knew some of their names, especially Green Lantern, and Hawkman (who I was pretty sure was going to be my boyfriend someday), but others, I think I just made up. I remember being so filled with wonder at this poster. How could there be so many of these superheroes, and where did these people find such a big piece of paper to draw all of them on?!

When I started seeing the image of the poster online recently, I told my boyfriend, James, about my memories of it. He, knowing the way to this comic book-loving girl’s heart, found a copy for me as a gift. I'm looking forward to eventually getting it framed and up on our wall so I can soak it in for many years to come.

If this isn't where my love of comic books started, it is at least one of the first objects I encountered in my childhood that set me on the path to enjoying the various art styles by these dynamic artists. If you look closely at the signatures at the bottom of the poster, you'll see many of the artists who in addition to their better-known superhero work, contributed to the romance genre that we love so dearly here at Sequential Crush including Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Gray Morrow, Joe Orlando, Kurt Schaffenberger, Joe Staton, Jim Steranko, Dick Giordano, Murphy Anderson, and my grandfather, Mart Nodell.

There isn't much to this story, just a small memory that I wanted to share with you all. As always, thank you so much for reading.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tables of Contents in the DC Romance Comics

Hey everyone! I hope your new year is off to a great start! While I don't make resolutions (specific and actionable goals usually work better, don't ya think?) I am anticipating that this will be a big year for me and Sequential Crush. I am getting very close to finishing up the first draft for my book project, and come hell or high water, I will finish it and have it for sale before 2015 is over. Lots of life and day job things have come up and fought for my attention and energy over the latter part of 2014, but I am committed to having this book done in 2015! 

Now... on to the comics! Tables of contents in the romance comics of the late 1960s and 1970s were rare, and boy is that a shame! These gorgeous pages by the likes of Gray Morrow, Len Wein, and Elizabeth are truly a treasure, and certainly help spice up the indicia, as well as set the tone for the rest of the book.

Illustrated by Gray Morrow
Script by Len Wein
Secret Hearts #150
(March 1971)

Illustrated by Elizabeth and
George Tuska/Vince Colletta
Falling in Love #143
(October/November 1973)

Illustrated by Gray Morrow
Script by Len Wein
Young Love #82
(September/October 1970)

Illustrated by Elizabeth Berube
Girls' Love Stories #176
(February/March 1973)

Illustrated by Gray Morrow
Script by Len Wein
Secret Hearts #148
(December 1970)

Happy New Year!

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