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Thursday, January 28, 2010

LOVELY LOVERS LOVE LOVING LOVINGLY - or Romance Comics Are For Guys, Too!

Okay, here's a word you don't hear much these days, unless it's in some flowery Jane Austen novel or film adaptation, or maybe a song. But you never hear this in the real world....the word?


I mean, who uses that kind of terminology anymore? We have many more hip (do people still say hip?), modern, and crude ways of expressing the same thing nowadays.

Significant Other.
F*ck Buddy.
One Night Stand.
Knick Knack Paddywhack.

and, if you are from the south,
Uncle Grandpa.

Okay, okay!! Just kidding about that last one!

What I and my fellow comic book enthusiast, well known authoritarian and psycho-analyzer Dr. Wertham P. Fredrics find mind boggling is what the word 'lover' really means to an adult, and the fact that these comics were marketed as perfectly safe entertainment fodder for young, underage girls!

Let Dr. Fredrics explain.
"Jah! Ze luffers is ven you und your little shveet potato climb into ze backseat und do ze nasty, jah? Makin' ze vhoopee! Dat's vhat luffers do! I know! I have done it before! It vas a long time ago, jah, but I can shtill remember ze look on Mrs. Fredrics face, jah! She didn't expect me to try zat , heehee...right inder middle of der library, jah! So hard to shtay quviet, too! Hoo hoo!You never forget your first luffer, jah!"

 Ew. Doc. Seriously, there's kids out there. Watch your damn mouth!

"Jah, hee hee! Zat's exactly vhat Mrs. Fredricks said in the library zat day! Hoo boy, I was ALL over her like a big, sexy schmorgasbord, jah!!! Hoo wah!"

Thank you so much for sharing, Doc. Here. Here's a bar of soap...shove it in your mouth and go stand in the corner, while I try to get those images out of my head!

"You won't get rid of them, heh heh...mmmmm, Irish Spring!"

You know, Doc, it's not all so dark and perverted, is it?
I mean, love is a really wonderful thing, isn't it?
Isn't it about a lot more than just nasty sex?


Well, we're not here to delve into the psychology behind human sexuality, nor the overwhelming hormonal drives of the male and female physiogomy. No, we here to enjoy some great comics. And what intrigues me the most about romance comics is the way the gender roles are portrayed, because there is undeniably a prevailing undertone of  pulsating sexual desire at play in every story, overt or not.
Plus, I think the word lover is 'funny'.

I kinda like that one. Wooer.
'Hey, Joe, did ya woo 'er?'
'Hey, Sally, how was your wooer last night?'
'Oh, he was a real wolf.'
'Too bad, there's nothing worse than a wooer wolf!'
ahem. sorry.
But perhaps all these archaic terms have lost their relevance in today's modern world.

What's my point?
I don't know!
Let's read some comics, shall we?

Here's two interesting stories from the repressed 50's about two different girls (young ladies, I mean) who finally find their Boy-Toys, er, Wooers, er, I mean Paramours, yeeesh!
Their LOVERS, okay? I said it!

In our first romantic tale 'The Man I'll Marry', beautiful Betty spends most of her time doing alot of two things:  drawing pictures and kissing men. Why? Because she is looking for the right man to marry, or in other words, her lover. But she is going about it in the most irregular way, cutting through a swath of men and leaving them to wither up and blow away as if they we're tall grass and she was a machete. She is shopping for men like she is trying on jeans at the Gap. She is basically doing what we all want to do...she wants someone with perfect dreamy looks who can also ring her bell as well (ding! ding!). Is that so wrong?

Comic databases list the art on this story as unknown, but I recognize the work of John Tartaglione for Atlas comics.  The style is so recognizable, now you too will know it the next time you see it.


The second story is listed as artist unkown as well, but has a very familiar look to it somehow to me. Whoever it is, I like it.

I am probably wrong, but when I look at the art, I see two familiar styles somehow...some of the women look like Bill Everett's work a bit, and some of them look like Gene Colan's! It probably is neither, for all I know, but both did work for Atlas at the time  -- perhaps they did team up on penciling, one inking? Overall, it doesn't look necessarily like eithers work, just here and there. Now I am asking all you classic comic freaks out there to strap your thinking caps on and tell me what you think. Do YOU recognize the artist for the second story? If you do, please tell me.

"Rah! I vad do doe, doo!"

What Doc? Take out the bar of soap..

"Phhp! Pleh! Ptooey! Yuk! Vhat I shaid vas, Jah, I vant to know, too, Jah!"

From LOVERS #73, 1955, Atlas comics, 'Too Loyal For Love' features the classic triangle (er, don't think dirty, I did. Be mature about this). Uh-oh! I'll bet somebody gets hurt!


As a bonus, let us analyze the cover to LOVERS # 50, with art by John Tartaglione.

What is significant here is  --  just what is going on here?!
It certainly looks fairly erotic for a teen comic. Doc?

"Fairly erotic? Zis is flat-out shmut! Are you blind! Shtart looking at zings mit der 'Wertham-colored glasses, und vake up already!"

Well it looks like Ricky Riccardo...he's trying to perform a Vulcan Mind-Meld on her, I admit, but...okay, she appears to be in some state of...ecstasy...and...where are their other hands?

"HA! I know what zose hands iss doin'! Remember vhat I told you ze last time ve talked about ze shmutty teen romance comics?(click here for pt1 & here for pt2) Iffen you can't see  ze persons hand, it's up to no good, jah! Look at zis guy here  --  he has complete control over zis submitting female, vhy, he practically has her in a headlock  --  if zat isn't a dominant position, I don't know vhat! Und she's in ze ecstasy, all right, 'cuz his udder hand is up her shkirt or somezing, Jah! Ve chust may be lookink at ze firsht comic book mit der orgasm right on ze front cover! 'MISS SMITH SAYS YES YES OH YEESSSSSSSS!' Jah!"

Doc! How do you know what his other hand is doing?

"I know because I used to do zis to Mrs. Fredrics every Wednesday after bingo! He's doing what ve call in ze trade ze 'Double-Digit-Ditty-Dang!' Jah! Heh heh! Mrs. Fredricks liked it so much she used to ashk me for it by name, by golly, jah! Heh heh!"

Doc, these images you keep putting into my head are not pretty! Oog!

"Jah, I vas going to say you look pretty sick. looks all pale und mit der dark bags under ze eye-flames...Tsk tsk, you shouldn't even be shtanding, probably!"

Really, Doc? You think so?  I..was feeling fine, but ...I guess I'm a litttle tired. I mean, I have been staring at comic books and computer screens for about the last four months without sleeping or eating.
 Is that bad?
"Jah! I'm telling you you look sick! Lissen to me, I am a doctor, you know! (Even if it was just as a horse doctor in the old country) Here, now just let me reach over und check your temperature vith ze back of my hand against your cheek..."

Hey now, Doc! You haven't...done that 'Ditty-Dang' thing lately, right?

"Not that you know...hmmm  -- oh no...tsk tsk..."

What's the matter , Doc?

"I need you to open your mout's, shtick out your tongue, und say'AHH'!"

Okay. AaaaaaaaahhhhmMMMOOOMMPHHKK!!!

"Zere's your bar of soap back, sucker! Hee hee hee ho!"

Uugh! Bleh! Shperk! Splaapblaah! Peh! Yuk!
Shee you nex shime, folkssh!
Ssppoopleyy speew! Ptui!


  1. That 1st story should be mandatory reading for every Princess on the Planet ! The older I get, the more I realize that Women are just as shallow as Men (which I never dreamt could be possible; but then, I am a Prince among dreamers). Awesome quality scans, Fiery One; and I am glad you left the classic Atlas tanning, or, to quote Elmer Fudd: 'Smellwavision wepwaces Tellwavision ?' I can smell the acidic content from here !

  2. I second the love for these scans and romance comics in general. They are a terribly underappreciated artform among most modern comics geeks.

    These particular stories are topnotch too, so hurry on back with some more of these classic gems as soon as possible.

  3. Apocolyte: I was not familiar with John Tartaglione, but as you say a very distinctive style that will be impossible to forget. Next time I see it, I will feel so smart! He does great women's eyes - very beautiful and really brings life to the faces. Being only an amateur cartoonist at best, I'm guessing kisses are very hard to draw with any realism - I think the actual press of the lips would be very tricky. This artist does a great job with that. Someone should do a contest or poll, which artist drew the best smackers. Great post. -- Mykal

  4. Lysdexicuss,
    Amen, brother!
    'Smellwavision wepwaces Tellwavision'!

    Thanks. I think you're right about them being underappreciated still by many. As children we (males) attach a stigma to getting to familiar with 'girl's toys', in general, but I would occasionally sneak peeks at my sister's romance/girly comics and found I had a 'strange' fascination for these pretty girls in the comics! Strange! Ha! So Every now and then a Lois Lane comic or something would end up in my collection (Hey! Superman was on the cover, okay?!)and in my maturity I've realized how much great artwork and interesting stuff is in these comics!

    The best kisses in comics? Sounds like a cool idea! Somebody should do that! Or a new blog featuring only posts of people kissing in comics. No stories, just lip-locks. It could be sponsored by Mononucleosis.

  5. I was not familiar with Tartaglione either, but now I will probably remember him as the "scratchy one." You are not alone on seeing multiple artists in a story, but not knowing who exactly. It happens to me all the time with the later romance. Some stories even look as if two or three artists took turns drawing various panels, but I know that probably isn't the case.

  6. Jacque,
    Ha! The 'scratchy one'! That's a good way to remember it!

  7. The Doc is a little sick man. But before i talk on the last cover, I believe that this romance comics are more a part of a need to catch the female side of the audience that was not in to the action of comics. Now for that cover... hand job on both ends

  8. Hey, I wonder what kind of person would read a comic like that? That's the corniest thing ever! By the way, where can I download it?