"What the world really needs is more love and less paper work."
- Pearl Bailey
There have been many great comics romances, both in the comics themselves and the lives of their creators. Thom Zahler's Love and Capes, my favorite contemporary super-hero title, always focuses on the funny, real, heartwarming relationship of bookseller Abby and accountant/secret super-hero Mark. You should have been reading it from the start, but, even if you haven't, the series to date has been reprinted in two trade collections.
In real life, when I think of comic-book romance, I think of Jack and Roz Kirby. If ever there were two people who completed each other, it was them. You - like me - can probably think of a dozen like couples and even a few from the pages of the comic books themselves.
I can't imagine my own life without Sainted Wife Barb. She's been supportive of my writing through the ups and downs. She has shown a superhuman tolerance for my Vast Accumulation of Stuff and incredible patience through the long ongoing process of organizing said VAOS. If you're wondering, "VAOS" rhymes with "chaos," which makes perfect sense to anyone who's seen all this stuff.
There are comics fans less fortunate than I. When I owned and operated Cosmic Comics, the wife of one of the nicest and hardest working guys I know used to call my store asking me not to sell her husband comic books. His wife, their kids, and even his less-than-agreeable mother-in-law never wanted for a thing. He's a great guy and a great father. Comics were his only "vice" and his wife would have denied him even that small pleasure.
Last summer, one of this column's readers wrote asking advice on his situation. He's 47 years old, his family is deceased, his girlfriend/life partner despises comics, and he's never known the friendship of other comic fans at conventions or comic-book shops. He feels trapped and apart from the rest of comicdom.
Just as I can't imagine my life without Barb, I can't imagine a life partner who would deny such a harmless pleasure to the one he or she loves. About all I can recommend to this fellow is that he visit some of the online forums available to comic-book readers.
I also recommend that he discuss his interest in comics with his girlfriend/life partner. A good relationship should be able to handle separate interests. A great relationship should be able to share such interests on occasion. Heck, I even watch HGTV with the Sainted One every now and then...as long as she doesn't except to flip that house or let anyone takeover my makeover.
Elsewhere in this column, you'll find my mini-commentary on an old Atlas/Marvel comic, Love Romances #84 [November, 1959]. It's one of two issues of the title I bought.
I got Love Romances #86 (March, 1960) while searching for the other issue. The cover story was "The Night of June 16th," which made it a musthave for me; it was on June 16, 1984, that I wed Barb. I plan to frame the issue for our bedroom, an odd gift, to be sure, but not terribly unusual considering the giver. Lord knows my wife has lived through stranger notions of mine during our 25 years of bliss. What's one more crazed idea?
Want to know more about romance comics? I can point you to a swell blog.
"Sequential Crush" is the creation of Jacque Nodell. She's a museum curator by day and, by night, "a comic-book reading, romance loving adventurer!" She's also the granddaughter of Martin Nodell, the creator of the original Green Lantern. Her blog is filled with fun and intriguing observations on the romance comics of the 1960s and 1970s. It's groovy and you can find it at:
"We Both Loved Tony!" My namesake is a painter. Rich Susan dumps him because she knows it's Kathy who will inspire him to become a great painter. I paid $20 for this issue in 2004...because I'd never seen my name in a story title before. The penciled art is by the legendary Matt Baker with inks by Vince Colletta. It's terrific art, but what impressed me most was the writing.
I'm far from an expert on romance comics of the late 1950s, but, based on those I've read, the Marvel writing was more literary and the stories had more substance than their DC counterparts. There are the usual clichés the ugly ducklings, the heroines with skewered values, the too-young lovers wanting to wed but Marvel's scribes seemed to be writing for an older audience.
Speaking of "ugly ducklings," I have to make special mention of the Don Heck-drawn "I Was an Ugly Duckling." In an issue which had good art by Baker, Jay Scott Pike, and Paul Reinman, Heck's work was outstanding. He made the inevitable transformation from duckling to swan believable; so many artists, when faced with this old chestnut, simply drew two different women.
That's it for this special Valentine's Day edition of "Tony's Online Tips." Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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