Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Our kiss said more than a thousand words!"

In an article on "quirky and unusual" summer reading, the LA Times singled out Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics.
Forget Spider-Man or the X-Men. Instead, with "Agonizing Love," dip into the adventures of a young lady confronted with the horrible creature known as "Mother's Boy"! Or listen to the inner probings of an anguished woman, at her husband's hospital bedside, asking the burning question, "Was I a wicked wife?" Michael Barson has selected excerpts from the love comics genre that thrived from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. It was a wildly successful genre, although, as Barson points out, it declined after "publishers sowed the seeds of their own undoing, glutting the market to the point where even the assembled legions of female comic-book readers couldn't keep all of these love publications afloat." Barson's book offers a rich, overlooked angle on the comics industry. Here you'll find stories that usually (but not always) reach for that best of all romantic endings: "No words were necessary in that wonderful, breathless moment …our kiss said more than a thousand words!"
Women's magazines replete with stories of romance, tortured or otherwise, were still thriving in Britain in the '60s, and they were illustrated by some of the top artists of the day. The 500-odd pages of Lifestyle Illustrations of the 60s is a fascinating glimpse of the mores of yesteryear. Below are some of the more enjoyable examples of the portentous poses and agonized/ ecstatic moments pictured therein.


  1. Interesting topic! Even now, I feel there's a reluctance from some people to fully embrace the validity of comics as art/literature. It's nice to have even more evidence to suggest otherwise. So many current graphic novelists worth a look:
    Marjane Satrapi, Charles Burns, Craig Thompson, Daniel Clowes and on and on... Any neat finds past or present?

  2. I've put in an order for some Neal Gaiman graphic novels... I have a first edition of Spiegelman's Maus. I adore comics actually. We should do something on them ... from Will Eisner to Krazy Kat to Marvel & DC. Not so big on manga but willing to take suggestions.