Romance comic books?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by beccabear67, Feb 26, 2024.

  1. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical omnivore. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    Well I just bought one... a shiny new facsimile edition of Young Romance #125. It is only the second Romance type comic I have ever held in my hands but apparently these things were huge sellers for two or three decades. Strangely, although I made a beeline for any comics rack in a shop, I have zero memory of seeing any Romance comics in the '70s while there was apparently still a number of them. I remember tiny astrology books, and B&W inside Mad and a host of similar, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, even CarToons... could it be they were at some other part of the racks everywhere? Next to Red Book, Cosmo and Woman's Day or something? I would have totally glazed over and not seen anything 'not fun' to me like those, Time, Popular Mechanics or Reader's Digest.

    I had a single late '50s example once... that was sufficient for me for a couple of decades or more as I just assumed they were all watered down Harlequins with fairly generic and boring Apartment 3G style art. Did real girls really read these along with Tiger Beat and 16 (which I also mostly shunned by the way)? Did Hank Williams (Sr.) really draw lyrics from their pages?

    Now I see they are quite a collected genre (post-ironically? no idea) and can admit that at times there was more variety to the art than I knew, but the stories... I guess sometimes a writer tried but my impression still seems like a load of formula repeated endlessly (which might be said about all kinds of genres really). In comparison even mediocre soap operas can hold more interest... perhaps because most of these stories of Romance were only 8, maybe 12 pages of comics? I've read that the earliest ones were much more adult, but again that would not have interested me back when I was plucking down dimes and quarters for comics...
    [​IMG]

    Did you ever see these around? I imagine a lot of them are scarce in decent shape given how I treated my comics back when some of these titles were still going. Westerns were big once too, and jungle and war... I think the superheroes fans basically have taken over what was once a mass medium and there are more actual kids reading Japanese manga and whatever Archie and Disney still manages to see print. I can't miss what I never had so the vanished Romances in comic form are not anything I'd want to see back in any big way, nor white jungle folks.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark I'm supposed to put something witty here....

    Location:
    Iowa
    While I didn't read them myself I do recall seeing them on the spinning comics rack, (remember them?), at my local newsstand, (remember them? :laugh: ), in the '60s/'70s.

    My go-to comic books from 1966-1973, (when they stopped publishing them), were Charlton Comics series of auto racing comics. Charlton also published a lot of romance comics. After the racing comics was Batman, & then in the '70s, Spidey, & Marvel's monster comics & Ghost Rider.
     
  3. Wildest cat from montana

    Wildest cat from montana Humble Reader

    Location:
    ontario canada
    As you can possibly imagine this type of comic book would have zero interest in a pre-teen reader who lived for his monthly fixes of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers and The X Men....
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  4. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I feel like Stan Lee brought some of the romance comic writing into the early Spider-Man. You had several teenage couples in that, like Pete and Gwen, with MJ as a rival, and Liz and Harry.

    Patsy Walker was a popular humor and/or romance comic character at Marvel who was later turned into the superhero Hellcat in the Marvel Universe in the '70s. Wikipedia says Patsy, Millie the Model and Kid Colt, Outlaw were some of the only comics published by Marvel continuously from the 40s into the 60s.

    Marvel was still publishing Millie the Model comics as late as 1975. Looks like this was a humor comic more than a romance comic though. That last cover looks a lot like an Archie Comic.

    Marvel tried to create a female-led, non-superhero comic in the 1970s, Night Nurse, but it flopped.

    Superheroes became so dominant in the medium by the 1980s that Marvel even had Indiana Jones facing off of against characters who looked like the below. I do think comic book genres got more diverse again later as independent and creator-owned comics like Cerberus and The Walking Dead appeared.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. barryalan

    barryalan Cat in Space

    Location:
    Santa Ana CA
  6. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical omnivore. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    It's interesting that John Romita Sr. did a lot of Romance comics before he did Spider-Man, I can definitely see the soap opera elements in Spider-Man and some other Marvel comics! I didn't really try Spider-Man and the Hulk until I was hooked on their Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica comics around 1979... knew them from tv... then it was the continuing drama that got me into them and on to others; there were three Spider-Mans a month including a reprint, and two Hulks, one of them a reprint. This Spider-Man, my first, was almost a Romance story... Aunt May marries his most evil villain! No! :eek:
    [​IMG]

    Before that besides the funny/cute cartoon animal/kid comics I only liked Supergirl, Shazam and Plop.

    My aunt had some older Patsy Walker, Millie The Model and Katy Keened paperdoll type comics and I would read those, but Archie was about as adult as I went in buying myself pre-1979.
     
  7. Doggiedogma

    Doggiedogma "Think this is enough?" "Uhh - nah. Go for broke."

    Location:
    Barony of Lochmere
    Shocking that a nurse comic book flopped. A re-write is in order, she can team up with Damage Control
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Uncle Miles

    Uncle Miles Wafting in and out of Forum

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ USA
    I can remember paging through a 100-page DC Romance comic in a drugstore when I was a kid back in the 70s.
    Didn't buy it because it looked like it was for girls.
    Now I wish I had snatched that one up.
     
  9. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical omnivore. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    I often looked at those 100 page comics like those oversized treasury ones with too few coins to imagine buying them, but my older brother had some, all Superman and Batman.

    Even under oath I could swear there were never any Romance comics, at least from the early '70s onwards... but I also don't remember the Westerns and they were still published too. We had a British sweets and papers shop I would get to every once in a long while and they had comics with girls' names like Tracy and Penny and Bunty (apparently a girl's name someplaces over there, yikes!), but they were kids comics, no glamorous ladies with huge eyelashes and suave guys with convertible sports cars and shades. I don't know what they had for Romance comic papers in England, maybe as part of Jackie which was more a magazine with a few comics pages?

    I have seen some Japanese Romance for big lady type comics... impossible to describe... the girls' ones (Margaret Weekly, again with the name titles) seem to include various gay relationships, though much less explicit (people holding hands with big eyes getting even bigger). Usually at least one sports comic, one historical Asian, one European, one gay, one school, one with horses... no superheroes though, sorry.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2024
  10. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I remember them quite well from the aforementined spinning comics rack as well as ads for other titles in my Superman and Batman.

    I do not recall ever picking one up, probably due to 'social pressures'. Besides, I learned everything about women from my Archie comics.
     
  11. Jim B.

    Jim B. Senior Member

    Location:
    UK
    I do think they look cool and the attitudes are hilarious from today's perspective.

    I have a reprint of a famous one Steranko did for Marvel, his art is just fantastic. I did but a copy of Patsy and Hedy a while back for the collection.

    It's funny as although these seemed to die out in the US in the UK they had tons of comics for girls in the 70s/80s all aimed at different age ranges and all named after a girl it seemed like Judy and Misty. Lots of stories about boys cheating on them with their best mate. I don't think they make them anymore, kids grow up so young these days.
     
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  12. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    Unfortunately, it seems that romance comics basically faded away in the 1970s. I started collecting in 1975 and I don't recall seeing any romance titles. Today, it seems that manga is king when it comes to non-superhero comics. There, many genres beyond superheroes are represented.
     
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  13. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark I'm supposed to put something witty here....

    Location:
    Iowa
    Here's a couple of the covers of the racing comics I loved so much.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    To add to my previous post: In manga, you have many slice-of-life titles, the kind you don't see in U. S. comic books. Among them:
    • Maison Ikkoku: A romance between a student and the manager of a shabby apartment building. To add to the humor are the other residents of the apartment building who each have their own quirks (such as one where it a mystery what he does for a living).
    • Komi Can't Communicate: A young man tries to help a young woman (who is considered the princess of the class because she is so cool) to make 100 friends. The problem is that what people think is her being so cool is actually because she is extremely socially awkward to the point that she's not able to talk...not even on a phone. Just trying to speak causes her to shake out of fear. Her class is filled with individuals who are quirky in their own way.
    Two I'm reading right now are:
    • Blitz: In love with a young woman in his school's Chess Club, Tom decides to take up chess. Due to an accident involving lighting and a VR set, he gains incredible chess abilities.
    • My Happy Marriage: Set in Turn of the 20th Century Japan, a young woman who is treated lower than a servant by her family (they barely feed or cloth her and didn't allow her to attend school) is sent to be engaged to a member of a noble family. Her proposed fiancee has had a number of previous proposed engagements but none of them could stand him and left within three days.
     
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  15. parman

    parman Music Junkie

    Location:
    MI. NC, FL
    I don't think I was allowed comic when I was a kid BUT when I was like 13 or 14 I loved Mad. I didn't take them home, read them during class at school. No wonder I did so well in school!!
     
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  16. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    One of my favorite books is TRUER THAN TRUE ROMANCE, in which the author re-purposes several of these romance comics into contemporary howlers by writing new dialogue and captions.

    The hilarity is between the tropes we see being played out and what the characters actually say. So a typical sob story about a girl devoted to her soldier shipped overseas becomes the tale of a man stalked by a girl who can't take no for an answer, no matter how far he runs away. Hard to do it justice in synopsis but it's one of the funniest books I've ever read.

    In a similar, ironic appreciative vein, there are at least three anthologies of the more outlandish original comics compiled under the title, WEIRD LOVE.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
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  17. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    I've seen a few books on the shelves where they take an American romance novel and do as a manga. There have also been a few manga where they have done the works of William Shakespeare, including Romeo & Juliet.

    Another manga I've started reading where romance is a part is Spy x Family. Short synopsis: He is an extremely competent and dangerous spy who, as part of a mission, must obtain a wife and child. So he finds both. What he doesn't know is that his "wife" is actually an extremely deadly assassin and his "child" is a telepath. Despite this, the "husband" and "wife" start to fall for each other, and with their "child" start to form a real family.
     
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  18. easysteps

    easysteps Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Marvel's early super-hero comics weren't as formulaic and cookie-cutter as they sometimes became later (especially in the early 90s). There was a touch of romance comics in Daredevil as well, and the pre-1963 monster comics had an influence on The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four.

    Marvel was also still publishing Western and horror comics in the 1970s. It was at the dawn of the 80s where they went all-in on just the superhero titles (for a time).
     
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  19. easysteps

    easysteps Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    If someone asks the question "Whatever happened to romance comics?," the answer is "Manga." That's where romance comics have been for at least a couple of decades now.
     
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  20. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    DC did this in many of their titles, not as a main focus but as character development. Some examples:
    • Elongated Man and Sue Dibny: Unusual in that it was a married couple and the husband had no secret identity (the only people who didn't know he was Elongated Man were the ones he hadn't told). They wandered the globe, and spent time with the Justice League.
    • Guy Gardner and Ice (Tora Olofsdotter): Started out as a two people who didn't like each other, but as Ice got to know the man beneath the rough exterior and Guy got to know her, they slowly fell in love.
    • The Flash (Wally West) and Linda Park: When they met Linda wasn't impressed by Wally. But as they got to know each other they fell in love, married and had two kids. Wally's love for Linda has pulled Wally back to her. Sadly, due to an event that altered the universe (deleting years of time) Wally was devastated when he found out that his kids no longer existed and he found a much-younger Linda...who didn't know who he was.
     
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  21. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    I agree. Often, even when the main focus of the series are other genres (such as action, martial artist, horror, and comedy), romance is often an important story element. As an example, in Ranma 1/2 while the main focus of the series is both martial arts and comedy, an important element in the series is the slowly evolving feelings between Ranma and Akane with it often being what drives the story forward.
     
  22. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I haven't heard much about their western comics from the '70s. I've heard a lot about their horror from that era though, and it had some influence on the mainline Marvel universe. Man-Thing is probably the biggest horror character from that era to maintain a presence in the MU. Although he remained a distant second place in impact compared to his direct competition over at DC, Swamp Thing. Werewolf by Night has gotten a resurgence lately too, having just been introduced into the MCU. He was always part of the Marvel comics canon, as evidenced by him meeting Iron Man in this issue. Bernie Wrightson become synonymous with horror comics, and did a lot of stuff for Marvel. He even drew a horror-themed Spider-Man graphic novel in 1986. I recall hearing he did a Frankenstein comic for Marvel. And Tomb of Dracula is a memorable title from their '70s horror comics.

    You also had horror influence in the mainstream comics with villains like Morbius, the Living Vampire and Man-Wolf in Spider-Man. And they didn't ignore how popular horror still is as a genre in recent years, with their Marvel Zombies comics and merchandise from the early 2000s. They put out an action figure set of the '70s monsters around that time too.

    They played a trailer for the movie version of that before the new Ghostbusters movie.
     
  23. easysteps

    easysteps Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Off the top of my head, Marvel published two Western series in the 1970s that mixed reprints of older stories with new stuff. I think their old Ghost Rider western character was renamed Phantom Rider and brought back in one of these books, when the other (new) Ghost Rider's book really took off.
     
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  24. JediJones

    JediJones Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yeah, I forgot about Ghost Rider. He is definitely an unusual confluence of both western and horror genres. And, if you consider the skull-faced one to be a horror character, he's definitely the most successful horror character Marvel Comics ever made. According to Wikipedia, the original Ghost Rider character, the western, horse-riding one, was NOT a Marvel character. He was published by a defunct comics company called Magazine Enterprises, which died out in the '50s. When the trademarks lapsed, Marvel snapped up the trademark to Ghost Rider for themselves, and brought in the original artist to start their own Ghost Rider series in 1967. This is still the western version. In fact, supposedly, the original character had horror elements, but Marvel's version made him more purely western, just a guy in a costume riding a horse. This version only lasted 7 issues. Other companies have reprinted the pre-Marvel issues of this character, because they're out of copyright, but they change his name to something else, since Marvel has the name Ghost Rider trademarked.

    The horror trend of the '70s seemed to combine with the success of Easy Rider in making them reimagine this western character in 1972 as the skull-faced motorcycle rider we know today. Maybe the clearest case ever of a character and a story evolving in order to move out of a dying genre into a more popular one. The original "western" Ghost Rider or his descendants seemed to continue to show up in one form or another in Marvel Comics as the years went on, but his name was changed to Phantom Rider to distinguish him from the new Ghost Rider. The new GR series was a solid hit that lasted 10 years until 1983. Like so many other comics that didn't fit squarely into the superhero genre, he got phased out by Marvel in the '80s. But he was rebooted again in 1990 with a new person donning the persona. And the character seems to have survived more or less consistently since then, with the same visual look, even though the identity of exactly who he is changes.

    I can remember hearing older kids talking about Ghost Rider in the '80s, even after he was out-of-print. He was some people's favorite character. He definitely had a cult following, which I'm sure is partly what led to his revival in the '90s. He's also one of the few Marvel characters that is more popular as a cultural icon than as an actual comic book. I remember reading in the early 2000s that Ghost Rider sold more merchandise at that time than any other Marvel character besides Spider-Man and Hulk. There's a motorcycle shop in my area that has a big painting of him on their building. I think Deadpool, Venom, and, more recently, Black Panther, have similar popularity among people who aren't actually comic book readers. And in a slightly different way than someone like Iron Man who is very popular as a movie, but not quite as a symbol and icon. Ghost Rider and Venom are definitely two where it's heavily based on their visual look. People will get tattoos of them even if they've never read a comic book.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2024
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  25. danielkov86

    danielkov86 Playing Devil's Avocado Since 1986

    You gotta check out Strangers In Paradise. One of the best reads I have ever had. You can grab the pocket editions for fairly cheap.

    The author Terry Moore has a great body of work, always with strong female roles.

    [​IMG]
     
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