Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Ultimate Romantic Fantasy - Gray Morrow's Gorgeous "Love Me a Little Longer!"

Why hello there! It's been a minute, hasn't it? Thanks for joining me today, despite the fact I've been a little AWOL lately. I think I mentioned this in a prior post, but I'm stepping away from blogging a bit to work on a larger project for Sequential Crush. I definitely think it'll all be worth it in the end, but thank you for your patience and loyalty all the same. Now, on to the romance!

Young Love #80 (May/June 1970)

"Love Me a Little Longer!" has some of the most gorgeous romance comic book art you've ever seen, and was illustrated by the talented Gray Morrow. This story stands as a testament to the trials of real-life romance (that so many of us have had to deal with at one time or another) played out in four-color glory, and with quite the fantastical ending. Join me, as we witness protagonist Liz ride the roller coaster that is, Young Love!

Liz lives by the axiom, "Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all." But as you'll see, her carefree convictions are soon challenged by Richard Gates. Richard, as we come to find out, is not only a famous actor, but a complete and utter playboy. No woman thus far has been spared Richard's waning affections -- will Liz?

Liz preoccupies herself during the first week of rehearsals with learning her part, as any good actress would. However, her concentration is soon interrupted by Richard's desire for her. One day, Richard treats Liz to lunch. During their meal, Mr. Gates puts his ambitions for Liz out on the table.

Knowing his reputation, Liz is quick to dismiss him, but that only makes Richard press harder.

"How many times? Many times, Liz...
But don't get me wrong... I'm not a playboy...
Whenever I tell a girl I love her... I mean it!
D-Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you, Liz?
I--I never lie... I mean it when I tell a girl I love her...
But I also make sure to tell her... It can never last
much longer than six months or so...
and then... then... it's over!" 

Not a playboy, huh, Richard? Well, lucky for you sir, Liz is totally smitten. And so, Richard dumps his current lady friend and an epic romance between him and Liz begins. Though Liz knows in her heart that she will soon meet the same fate as the other girls that Richard has toyed with, she relishes in their blossoming romance.

In an anticipatory move, Liz asks Richard what happens when he falls out of love with a girl. He is frank and tells her, "nothing, love!" He just leaves his former flames hanging. No more calls, no more text messages... oh wait -- that's our fate, isn't it, dating ladies of the 21st century? Anyway, like so many of us at one time or another, Liz begins to feel impending doom every time the phone doesn't ring. Or, doesn't vibrate, in our case.

Luckily for Liz, she hasn't gotten the ax yet, but that hasn't stopped her paranoia. She even goes so far as to ask Richard if he has ever, even once, asked a girl to marry him.

The months go on and finally, the play comes to a close. Richard has been offered a role in a movie that will be filmed in Italy. When Liz overhears that he is possibly going to take it, the end of their romance looms. The following day is the end as far as she is concerned. Having not heard from Richard since the evening before, Liz paces her apartment, curses her seemingly non-operable telephone, and throws herself down on her couch to sob,

"No, no, I can't blame you, Richard...
You never lied to me... or pretended...
You warned me it wouldn't last...
I--I went into it with my eyes wide open,
my dear, dear darling..."

And then, very late that evening, there is a knock on Liz's door. Richard stands there, and then goes into a tirade. Liz, poor thing, looks pretty confused at this point.

Richard then takes Liz in his arms and declares that she has ruined his life. Ruined, because he can't live without her. Richard, former player, must marry Liz and spend the rest of his life with her and only her. Liz ecstatically promises to make marriage as painless as possible.

Whoa! So how do you feel after reading that beautifully illustrated story, replete with ups and downs?! This Gray Morrow piece is the ultimate in romantic fantasy -- one that addresses the dream of having the ability to change someone merely through the power of love. By the end, Liz is able to change Richard, so completely, so effortlessly -- just by being her wonderful self. Liz was, in short, able to "tame the beast."

Now, I know most of us at one time or another have had hopes we could change someone, whether it be a romantic interest or a family member. If you've been in this situation, you know the anxiety that goes along with hoping something we said or did would just rub off on them already, and make them come to a sudden realization about how wrong they were! Now, there is another side to this coin. Maybe it isn't so much that Liz changed Richard, but that she just turned out to be his "soul mate" -- which is decidedly more romantic. Either way you think about it, "Love Me a Little Longer!" is the ultimate romantic fantasy. And what better place for fantasy than in a comic book, right?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Loving is Believing - Jealousy in "Free to Love"

Hello there! How are you all doing? I had wanted to post this earlier, but a string of technical difficulties prevented me. Anyhow! As we say goodbye to March and hello to April, let's look at one last story for Women's History Month -- "Free to Love" from Young Love #99 (September 1972). This beautifully illustrated story (which looks to be courtesy of Tony DeZuniga, at least in part) shares a little bit in common with the last story I posted, which prompted some really interesting discussion . "Free to Love," like "Cry Like a Real Girl!" depicts the power of female friendship, and what happens when women work together, as opposed to against one another. However, I think you'll find this story (and the extra added bonus of the quiz that immediately followed) a much more productive representation of the Women's Movement. 

In this "true story," readers are introduced to Gail who is immediately depicted as "a jealous girl." When her friend Eileen comes to town, Gail is certain that upon meeting Eileen, her boyfriend Brent's affections for her are on a downward trajectory. Gail doesn't hesitate one bit to let Eileen know to keep her mitts off Brent.

When Brent takes the two girls out to the theatre and dancing afterward, Gail catapults further into a sour mood. By dancing with Eileen (in his eyes being friendly), Brent has embroiled himself in quite the uncomfortable situation with Gail.

After declaring that he doesn't want to be owned, Brent leaves Gail to stew.

 A few days after the fight, Gail asks Eileen to coffee. Anyone in their right mind knows that a conversation that begins with, "You haven't done anything wrong, not yet! But..." probably won't end well. Eileen socks it to Gail bluntly and instructs her to go to Brent and show him that she has learned to be understanding. But has she?

Nope! The next day when Brent shows up to talk, another fight ensues. By the end of it, Gail accuses Eileen of being vicious and calculating. Brent accuses Gail of making mountains out of molehills, and once again, expresses his need to not feel like he is owned. Needles to say, the two former lovers do not part on good terms.

A week later, Gail stumbles into a horrific scene -- Eileen and Brent hanging out in the park together. Though it seems to be platonic, Gail is beyond hurt. She realizes that she really has lost Brent. She then quits her job, gets a new one, and attempts to forget Brent by dating other guys. Not long after, Eileen drops by. Eileen insists that it isn't she who has hurt Gail, but Gail herself.

The two women then have a heart to heart and Eileen helps Gail realize that she is sorely lacking self-confidence, and in effect, has been led down the path of jealousy.

As a result of their conversation, Gail attempts to be less jealous when out with other men on future dates. One evening while out dancing, Gail bumps into Brent and his date. When alone, Gail sucks it up and wishes Brent the very best with his new lady and hurries off to "powder her nose" (AKA sob into a tree). Brent follows her and tells her she has changed. And clearly, if his kiss is any indicator, he is attracted to that change.

"You see, I knew the secret, then. 
Every grown-up girl knows it. Loving is Believing!
I'll never forget that in the years ahead!"

Following the sequentially illustrated story is the quiz, "Are you Jealous of Other Girls?" I haven't seen this tie-in between a story and a quiz before, so it is rather unique. Click to read in more detail, or take the quiz yourself! 

"Free to Love" is in essence, a cautionary tale. This story (and the ensuing quiz) is interesting because it takes an age old condition of romance -- jealousy, and uses it to sound off about the Women's Movement. "Free to Love" is most certainly a continuation of the recurring theme in 1960s and '70s romance comics that loudly and clearly instructed readers that jealousy would, without a doubt, kill a man's love. Though there is definitely a huge amount of truth to that, I can't help but think that this cautionary framework is somewhat a byproduct of men writing stories for women. What do you think? I'd love to hear! And hear your quiz results of course!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Romance in Black and White - Romance Comic Stories Redrawn for Diversity

Swipes, reprints, and reinterpreted stories were not uncommon in the romance comics of the 1960s and '70s. Most often they were done to update hairstyles and adorn characters with more contemporary outfits to maintain relevancy with their primarily teen audience. However, there were a few stories that were redrawn, as well as recolored, to alter the race of the characters. Those such stories are a little more rare. Today I have an example of this from two stories, "Take Me Back!" and "Revenge!" that appeared in Young Romance #151 (December/January 1967) and Girls' Love Stories #170 (June 1972), respectively. The original pencils on the story were done by John Rosenberger.

This phenomena of redrawing and recoloring is extremely fascinating to me. When I thought about the why of it all and the reasons behind a comic book publisher doing this, I had a couple thoughts. First simply being that reprinting a story with the characters redrawn was probably a time saving, cost-effective way to repackage a story for a more modern audience. But then why not just change the hairstyles and outfits like usual? After thinking a bit more about it and coming across the Kerner Commission Report of 1968 (also known as the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, which can be read here), a line in Chapter 15 (p. 18) stuck out at me. It advised media outlets to:

"Integrate Negroes and Negro activities into all aspects
of coverage and content,  including newspaper articles and
television programming. The news media must publish
newspapers and produce programs that recognize the existence
and activities of Negroes as a group within the community
and as a part of the larger community."

After reading this document, I believe it is very likely that the comic book publishers were affected by this report or at least had some knowledge of it. Of course it will take more research to actually prove (cue dreams of me digging diligently through the DC and Marvel archives -- adorned in white gloves, pencil in hand), but it certainly is a strong possibility.

The story is simple enough... boy falls out of love, girl wants revenge. But our focus here really isn't the plot per se, but the fact that it was redrawn to promote diversity. As you will see, almost all of the dialogue is the same, and the characters' names are even the same. The only major difference besides the race of the characters is the story title.

Don't forget to click on each image to see more detail!

As begins many a romance story, Terry has been cruelly and unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, Rich. Time passes and anger and loneliness consume her.

Terry decides that she will get her revenge. She doesn't know how quite yet, but she'll get it.

The answer comes to her in a dream that night -- a dream that recurs over and over for Terry. In the fantasy-like dream, Rich comes back, admits he is a fool, and proclaims his love for Terry. What says the distraught maiden? A declarative "Tough!"

Dreams are one thing, but sometimes reality can be far stranger. A few months later (revenge still a wish for Terry), she is out for lunch and just as her food arrives, so does Rich. The sad sack tells her he is sick. Sick in love... with her! It seems Terry's dream has come true, but how will she react?

As Rich begs Terry to take him back, she suddenly has a change of heart. No longer wanting to get revenge, Terry coolly declares that she no longer is in love with him.

As they walk out of the restaurant together, Terry tells Rich that she had dreamed of the moment when revenge was hers for the taking. She then goes on to tell him that she just couldn't do it when she remembered the hurt she felt when he broke her heart. Upon telling Rich that, he declares what a wonderful person she is, and asks Terry if she would like to be friends. 

And so friends the two become. One day while hanging out, they realize that they weren't even friends to begin with when they were dating. As a result of their friendship, the two seem to like one another more now that they are friends. Rich goes in for a kiss, and well, the rest is history.

Not the most Earth-shattering story on its own, but the fact that it was redrawn and recolored is what makes this tale memorable. For whatever reason DC decided to recolor this story, it does go to show that love and romance are truly universal. I still have more thinking and research to do when it comes to these rare redrawn and recolored stories, but as it stands, this is a fascinating slice of American history when it comes to the examination of race in popular culture.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Squirrel Appreciation Day 2014!

I don't know what it is about squirrels, but they seem to pop up every now and again in the romance comics. Easy to draw? Symbolic in some way? Who knows the reason why, but they sure are a delight. Anyway, I used to celebrate these fuzzy little creatures in the spring, but I was recently made aware that January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day! To celebrate, here are a couple more squirrels I dug up from the pages of the romance comics!

"Secret Marriage"
Just Married #39
(December 1964)

"Appointment with Heartbreak"
Young Romance #170
(February/March 1971)

For my past posts on squirrels in romance comics, click here! I hope your week is off to a great start. Be sure to join me later in the week for a special guest post!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Typical Friday Night in the Romance Comics?

"I can't, I'm washing my hair tonight." Ah, that age old excuse -- sprinkled throughout popular culture certainly didn't allude the ladies of the romance comics. But the thing was, it wasn't always an excuse! Apparently three out of four ladies in the DC romance universe actually did have to wash her hair!

"The Wrong Party"
Falling in Love #63
(November 1963)

"When Dreams Come True"
Falling in Love #71
(November 1964)

"Gruesome Twosome"
Girls' Love Stories #158
(April 1971)

"Lying Lips!"
Girls' Love Stories #180 
(November/December 1973)

Have a wonderful weekend - washing your hair or otherwise!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advice From the Romance Comics - Page Peterson Helps You Realize The Error of Your Ways

If Page Peterson were a real person, you better believe she'd be on retainer as my life coach. If I had Ms. Peterson in my life she probably would have told me, "Jacque, don't try to hand make all your holiday gifts -- it's just too much!" Or she would have at least told me I should have started in July. She would also hopefully tell me to walk daily and buy a better conditioner. Well, sadly, I'm a few decades too late and in the wrong universe for Ms. Peterson's advice. But really... couldn't we all use a Page Peterson in our lives? An unbiased professional willing to dish out tough love on matters such as dating and other sticky situations? Luckily for Karen from issue #174 of Young Romance, romance guru Page Peterson is at the ready to fill the dancing diva in on the error of her ways. Just click to enlarge and enjoy!

"Do's & Dont's of Dating by Page Peterson"
Pencils: Steve Englehart, Inks: Vince Colletta
Young Romance #174 (September 1971)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Charlton Swipes DC's "Practicing Hippie," Zack Barton!

Remember "Practicing Hippie," Zack Barton (above) from DC's Woodstock story, "I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival!" Falling in Love #118 (October 1970)? As I was flipping through my new finds the other day, I came across "Do Your Thing!" in Charlton's Love and Romance #1. The guy on the splash page looked awful familiar! 

Splash from "Do Your Thing!"
Love and Romance #1 (September 1971)
Pencils: Art Cappello, Inks: Vincent Alascia

Well, Charlton? What say you?!  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Young (Step) Father's Story - "Second Choice!"

As promised earlier in the week, here is "Second Choice!" This story from Heart Throbs #121 (August/September 1969) is somewhat rare for the romance comics due to its multiple serious adult themes of marriage, death, and child rearing. Just a glance at the cover indicates to the reader that they are in for something out of the ordinary. The cover is of course by the late Nick Cardy, who sadly, passed away just days ago. The interior pencils (at least in part) are by Tony Abruzzo. Thanks largely to Cardy's intriguing cover, "Second Choice!" is a truly memorable story.

The splash page introduces us to three of the main characters -- Amy, and her two suitors, Billy and Jim. Sadly for Jim, Amy has chosen Billy. The two are going to get married.

As Amy stands in the background, Jim congratulates Billy on winning Amy's heart, despite the fact his own heart is broken. Jim then reminds them that they better get hitched quickly, as he and Billy have "a little date in Vietnam!" Billy and Amy heed Jim's advice and soon after, the two are married. Poor Jim stands up at the wedding as Billy's best man. A few months after the wedding, Amy kisses the two men off as they head to Vietnam, ominously telling Jim to be sure to "come back!"

On the page that follows, some time has passed, and we see Billy and Jim at war. Both men miss Amy terribly, though Jim must do so secretly. We learn on this page that Amy and Billy have had a child, Billy Jr. Sadly, we also witness the tragic death of Billy.

Understandably, Amy sinks into a dark depression following the death of her husband. Jim soon returns to the States, and comforts her as best as he can. Jim reminds her that thousands of other women have lost their husbands in the war too, and that Billy would not want her carrying on so; especially with little Billy Jr. to take care of. Before long, Amy tells Jim that she thinks that she is falling in love with him, to which Jim pleads with us as readers, "You've got to believe me when I tell you I really didn't plan it... it just happened one evening..." Despite feeling a little guilty about it, the two get married. In the union, Jim gains not only a wife, but a son as well.

Jim and Amy's wedded bliss goes on for about three months. Not long after though, it becomes clear to Jim that playing father to another man's child is a bit of a drag. Not only does he have to listen to snide comments from strangers about the baby not resembling him at all, Jim is also thrown off by Billy Jr's neediness. Jim starts to long for the freedom of bachelorhood.

Jim is also struggling with intense jealousy. He decides that trying to draw Amy closer to him with a little alone time will be the best thing for their relationship.

While at the park that Saturday, Jim suggests they join a bowling league. He is quickly shot down; bowling would be too expensive, and hiring a babysitter even more so. The two then begin to quarrel.

"Stop shutting me up! It's time I spoke the truth...
and it's time you stopped thinking only of the kid...
and give me some consideration!" 

The tears flow and Amy begs Jim to go home with her. Jim continues to be enraged; citing their house not as a home, but as a "nursery for Billy's kid!" The two go their separate ways. Though Amy is of course devastated by her husband's behavior, she simultaneously understands it and feared it was coming. 

Jim walks around town for a while, thinking. At one point he says "hello" to a pretty girl, but ultimately realizes that he is "hopelessly flipped" over Amy and putting up with little Junior is well worth it. As Jim walks, the sky turns dark and it starts storming. He rushes home right away, but thunder and lightning are already underway. When Jim arrives at their house, he opens the door to a worried Amy -- the lights have gone out from the storm. Just as the two begin to finally have a moment of honesty and tenderness, a burst of thunder and lightning scare the wits out of little Billy. The baby instinctively reaches for Jim. After just a few moments in his arms, Billy calms down. It is then that Jim finally realizes he is in fact, a father.

Not unlike other stories of young parenthood, Jim and Amy learn the importance of their family dynamic after a trying event. The most interesting thing I find about this story is actually the rather misleading and sensationalized (read: sensational!) cover. My first impression just based on the cover was that the story was going to be about a single woman who has a child out of wedlock. But maybe that is just my modern brain? I'm curious -- how do your reactions of the story align with your expectations from the fantastic Cardy cover? Please do let me know!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Big Thank You + The Identity of Dr. Harold Gluck Revealed!

Hey everyone! I hope you had a great weekend, I know I sure did! Saturday I went to Wizard World Nashville as I had mentioned in earlier posts. It had been a while since I had been to a comic book convention, so it felt great to be back “home.” I just love, love, love all the energy and excitement that surround conventions! As promised, I spent the day looking for romance comics to buy with the money that you readers so generously donated for that very purpose. Though the convention was tons of fun, there was little to be had in the way of comic books (as I had feared!), particularly romance comics. So, I did the next best thing and camped out on eBay yesterday and purchased almost three dozen romance issues. I also stopped by my local comic book store this afternoon and found a few Charlton issues to round things out (the issues pictured). The orders should be trickling in over the next couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to share with you my finds! Thank you sooooo very much to all those who donated. It really meant a lot to know to what extent people enjoy and see value in Sequential Crush! I can’t say it enough -- best readers ever!!!

Issues I was able to purchase with your kind donations!

Falling in Love #75, #84, #114
Girls' Love Stories #90, #133, #134
Girls' Romances #158
Heart Throbs #121
Secret Hearts #95, #98, #118, #138
Young Love #59, #64, #83
Young Romance #138, #152, #153, #160
The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #2
My Love #33
Our Love Story #26
For Lovers Only #64
♥ I Love You #88, #92, #110, #114
Just Married #39, #112
Love Diary #24
Love and Romance #1
Romantic Story #73, #88
Secret Romance #4
Secrets of Young Brides #4
Teen-Age Love #68

Not too much romance comic content to be found overall at the convention, but I was told an interesting tidbit from writer, Danny Fingeroth. We were discussing the romance comics and Danny told me that Dr. Harold Gluck (of Charlton advice columns, “Canteen Corner” and “Teenage Troubles”) was a substitute teacher at his high school. As Danny recollected hearing, Dr. Gluck was not only versed in the language of distraught teens, but fluent in Swahili as well.* Dr. Gluck also wrote a number of stories for various Western and Crime publications, a list of which can be found here. I really wasn’t able to find much more on Dr. Gluck after some cursory Google research, but small world, eh?! I just love hearing these kinds of stories at conventions! Thanks again everyone, and join me later in the week for another Halloween-themed post!

*Edited to reflect that Danny remembers hearing that Dr. Gluck was fluent in Swahilli, and not that he necessarily had a doctorate in it as I previously stated. Further research needs to be done to learn more about this little discussed figure in comic book history. Anyone up for writing the official Dr. Harold Gluck biography?!

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