Real Smooth Moves

Been reading some early Seventies DC magic in the form of Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, a horror/mystery/romance book that later dropped the romance part and became Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion and then still later ceased to exist altogether. Something that I have noticed about the book: the male characters are just impeccably smooth, whether they're giving their prospective lady-love a little sweet talk to soften her up for smooching...

Or finding the precise and most appropriate moment to express their feelings...

(Hmm... not quite as obvious as I  had thought. Note that the lady is unconscious for the first two panels)

Or mixing it up: a little from technique A and a little from technique B:

Early Seventies, you have so much to teach us.

Hat Week: The Hats of Romance Comics Explained

Hats and head-wear play an important role in romance comics. By studying the trends of the era, and using hats as signifyers we can gain understanding about social norms and the political climate in romance comics.

In other words, let's look at the crazy crap people put on their heads in the Silver Age.

Head wraps were a popular look that seems to have pretty much died out. I like it. It'd be cool to just wrap a towel around your head after you get out of the shower and not have to worry about blow-drying or flat-ironing or curling your hair.

The head wrap diminished in popularity when girls began to discover that having so much warmth around their heads affected their brains, sometimes turning them violent.

The swim cap is another obsolete head piece you'll see a lot of in romance comics.

I understand the practicality of it: you can go for a swim, but still have your hairdo looking fine when you're relaxing on the beach afterward.

But to me, those swim-hats seem to make a girl look like ol' Cabbage Head.

Men's hats are often a subtle indication of their personalities, or their likes and dislikes.

Most pervasive head-piece of the Silver Age? The headband, hands down. But there are distinct differences between the types of headbands, and the way they're worn.

There's the evening headband:

A girl's got to wear a bow to bed, in case Dennis (or Arthur or Tommy) show up in the middle of the night.

The basic headband, worn across the top of the head, is incredibly common, and indicates an average, demure, chaste girl.

But flip that thing down, and wear it across your forehead, and oh boy. That's the way hippies wear headbands, so a girl rocking that style is in for crazy, European sex parties:

And getting caught up in dangerous revolutionary politics:

Wear a headband across your forehead and you'll undoubtedly find yourself in a situation like this:

Lastly, romance comics have lead me to believe that there was some sort of baldness epidemic in the Silver Age because wig ads are everywhere.

Wigs are the hats of yesteryear. I wish I could find a hat with a built in scalp that looks like skin.

But even wigs could lead a good girl down the bad path of political rabble-rousing.

So if you're having trouble following the complex plot of an issue of Teen Age Love, Sweethearts, or Secrets of Young Brides, take a look at head-wear, and that'll clear everything right up.


Fun with Romance Comics: A Confusing Lesson in Morality

The stories in romance comics tend to function as life lessons that teach young ladies how to behave properly in relationships. There's usually an undercurrent of right-wing moral bullying, like an episode of Dr. Phil. I just don't follow this one:

Is it supposed to be ironic? Like, "if you're trying to shock a guy with a crazy revealing outfit, then the joke's on you, girl, because any dude will be all over that"? Or is this comic seriously suggesting that a mesh shirt is the answer to your problems if you're dating a boring ol' banker's son? Is this the hippest, sexiest strip ever to be printed in an issue of For Lovers Only? You decide.

Fun with Romance Comics: Fun with Dave Madden!

If you're confused about why girls lust over Robert Pattison, try and wrap your mind around who they crushed on 30 years ago.


Free poster of Dave Madden? Best known for his role as Reuben Kincaid, the harried agent for The Partridge Family, according to Wikipedia? No way!


Huh. Well, there it is. I don't know if I see the appeal. He was sort of a father figure, right? A dark, looming protector?

So, maybe Robert Pattison is the modern Dave Madden.

Fun With Romance Comics: Two Awful Girls for Every Dumbass Boy!

The first story in Heart Throbs #119 has all the ingredients for a great romance comic: tears! A girl fight! An oblivious and/or douchey guy!  A romantic misunderstanding! Oh, and girl with must be a debilitating neck injury.

What exactly is going on here? It's sort of like that unfortunate pose we see so often with female superheros where both the T&A are facing forward.

Anyway, our story: Gwen has always lived in the shadow of her much hotter friend, Janice.

Gwen's okay, but Janice has what all boys in the 60s went for: cold, dead eyes that say "I'm barely even alive."

Janice gets a ton of dates, but she throws a dude bone Gwen's way so they can double date. 'Cause it's super awkward for a couple to make out alone. We all need pals groping each other, within arms reach of us, if we want to relax.

When Gwen and Janice head to summer camp together, they both meet the boy of their dreams, Bruce.


I think we're using the term "boy" loosely here, because Bruce looks about 40.

Also, "summer camp" seems to consist of one long dance party by the lake.

Bruce, of course likes a straight spine, and seems to be all about Janice. And Gwen's all tears and crazy contortionist neck.


I'm beginning to think Gwen can't get a date because she's always crying. Wallowing in self pity is even less attractive than short, brittle nails, Gwen! 

When Bruce says Janice is pretty, Gwen throws a fit. Just when she's about stab Janice and see if she even bleeds, Bruce busts in.

Gwen heard the first part, when Bruce said Janice was one of the prettiest girls he's ever seen, but not the second part—he loves Gwen. Uh, sure. I still think Bruce fancies himself an Archie and was hoping for both ladies.  Anyway, let's just hope Bruce's medical plan has chiropractic coverage.