If You Dare to Believe-- in the Miracle of Love...
June 23, 2011 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Romance comics are awesome, especially if you want stories about lesbians, naughty nuns, Vietnam war brides, teenage sex clubs or Gothic horror tales about feisty nurses.

Although they've been scorned for decades, they are finally getting some recognition, with many amazing artists like Jim Steranko, John Romita, Tony Abruzzo (who Roy Lichtenstein ripped off) and Elizabeth Berube having contributed to the genre. On NPR's "Fresh Air," Terry Gross interviewed Michael Barson, author of "Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics."

There are also many great blogs and websites about them-- one of the best is Jacque Nodell's "Sequential Crush." (Interestingly enough, Jacque is the granddaughter of Martin Nodell, the creator of the Green Lantern.)

Previously. Previouslier. And yet still previouslier.
posted by suburbanbeatnik (13 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Tony Abruzzo (who Roy Lichtenstein ripped off)

I always wondered if there was a comic artist he had modeled after - thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2011

Ripped off, you know, that's an inelegant phrasing that ignores art historical culture.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:15 PM on June 23, 2011

Ripped off, you know, that's an inelegant phrasing that ignores art historical culture.

Oh, its inelegance is more than excused by its accuracy. You could make the whole "Andy Warhol Soup Can" argument, but the analogy doesn't bear weight. Warhol took commercial symbolism and reappropriated it, casting it in a new light. Lichtenstein took other people's art, copied it virtually identically but in a different medium, and made millions off of it. The original artists, of course, saw not a dime, and were poorly paid for their originals, to boot.

Comic books are not "found art." They are not industrial designs. It's not folk art made by anonymous, long-dead people. They are an art unto themselves, created by professional artists, and ol' Roy stole from it. It's not a case of fair use or massive reappropriation. It's just a ripoff.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:41 PM on June 23, 2011 [13 favorites]

Drawn porn is much much much less depressing than filmed porn, at least as far as girl-on-girl scenes go. (I have heard that the same thing is true for straight porn, but that gay male porn is actually non-depressing because the dudes in it generally look like they are legitimately having a good time.)

I also think there's a special place for softcore - it scratches a different itch than the one scratched by harder stuff. Their is, or used to be, tons of this stuff in Japan: romance manga (for boys), erotic novels (for men) and Pink movies (for couples).
posted by subdee at 7:48 PM on June 23, 2011

Drawn porn is much much much less depressing than filmed porn

While I agree with you entirely, being a big Cherry Poptart fan, I have to say that the thing about the romance comix genre is the absence of any sort of porniness at all. Even the teen sex club comic is about ... making out! I've been clicking around for a while now, trying to see if there's a librarian in any of these.
posted by jessamyn at 8:01 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

From Teenage Sex Club (1951):

Laura thought Van had been soda-dating me... well, let her think so! Especially if it meant being invited to join her group of gay kids...

Ah, the times they are a-changin'.

What you need is a drink sweetheart. It'll make you feel you've known me all your life!

Er, never mind.
posted by troll at 8:11 PM on June 23, 2011

Did anyone else assume Extremely Creepy Van was going to be the creeper who seduced Geri into the Teen-Aged Sex Club? I totally thought it was going to be Van.
posted by Neofelis at 8:12 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would now like to take the opportunity to say to you, DC Comics, that I will write Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love for you, for free, forever. Thank you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:28 PM on June 23, 2011

Take away the speech bubbles, and this looks like an average date for me.
posted by Eideteker at 11:40 PM on June 23, 2011

There's got to still be a market for this stuff, especially with the whole 'paranormal romance' genre selling like hotcakes. You'd think Marvel or DC would bring them back.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:40 PM on June 23, 2011

Fred in "Strange Girl" is the epitome of creepy stalker behavior; he throws himself in front of Liz during a basketball game and then guilt-trips her into walking him home. She should have kicked him in the nuts and then hooked up with Agnes again.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:35 AM on June 24, 2011

Hey, I joined a Teenage Sex Club, too! I got the first for a penny and then I had to pay way too much for 12 more over the next 3 years.
posted by not_on_display at 10:46 AM on June 24, 2011

"Strange Girl" was a total letdown. I was promised lesbians! Although, I, too, have had my mother question my orientation because of my sartorial choices. Mom, it was 1992. Everyone was wearing cowboy boots. Although yes, I did buy them because of Melissa Etheridge. Like I said: 1992!
posted by jocelmeow at 6:42 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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