Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shopping Bag Comics: Young Love (1970)

Sometime around mid-March I inadvertently outed myself to my colleagues as a comic book fan, and of course, as a "comic book guy" I must love old comics and collect them because they are worth all kinds of crazy dollars... while there definitely are speculative collectors out there, I purchase comic books now as a 43 year-old for pretty much the same reason I did as a ten year old: their fun, fantastic, escapism.

The pile.
Following this, in early April a friend/colleague of mine gave me a shopping bags worth of older comics. Observationally I could tell immediately that they were "old," browned pages, distinctive "old comic smell," worn covers) but I offered to give him ten bucks just for his trouble and for thinking of me. He instead said I could just have them and if any are worth money to split it with him.

That's not to say that I don't have some books that have a dollar value (though nothing like a colleague--who is a Spider-man fan--who has a valuable and expensive issue of Amazing Fantasy). Most comic books, like baseball cards I suspect, have little value beyond how much each collector treasures them. If the the title is not one I've collected since childhood, like for example Marvel Comics Fantastic Four series, then the "value" I draw from them is in the insight to the times they were produced in offered by the art language and advertisements therein.

As I come across interesting titles, I will periodically share them, along with scans and comment, of your perusal. Up first? Why Young Love of course!

Young Love, #86, May-June 1971.
I am uncertain how my friend came across these books, but the pile represents is a fairly diverse set of titles primarily from DC Comics publishing, with some with characters I have followed (Superman and Batman) and others I have never read (Teen-age Love). The title pictured above, Young Love, is fairly indicative of a number of the romance anthologies of the 1960s and 70s. I can't imagine there was much of a market for this among young female readers, but somebody was buying them... maybe those folks who buy collectible Barbie dolls?

The story  depicted on the cover is the first of three in this issue.
The fact that this was issue #86, suggests that there were at least 85 previous issue in this series. It must have been incredibly challenging to write relatively fresh storylines, especially as this one seems to include all the common romance tropes, such as "the dangerous secret" and "the naive suitor." Including the two additional stories, "Never Bet on Love" and "My Sister's Lover," there would seem to be few other potential storytline's to keep a reader's interest.

You just knew an evil hippie would throw a wrench in the works!
The introduction of the hippie, and his secret past with Angel (the blond ingenue who is our story's protagonist), subtly handled as he recalls when they used to "freak out at the Dirty Dump." Using typography such as emboldening "Dirty Dump" gives us further evidence that she was into some wi-i-i-ild stuff, man! Of course, Greg, the blond boy friend, is none too happy with this newsflash. In fairness there is an earlier scene where Greg, referring to himself in third person as "Papa Greg," invites Angel to confess her iniquities, an opportunity she passes while aware that "the pedestal she's been placed on will crumble"...

As you can see, the selling of a hippie-aesthetic pre-dates the Dave Matthews Band.
Interestingly enough, the page immediately following the introduction of our vilified hippie stud, the reader is greeted with promotional material for "being a part of the great happening... Woodstock." I guess nobody told the money-grabbing capitalists at MTV that this was to be a "never-to-be-repeated -event"--further evidence of the Man's terrible lies!

First she was "impure" and then love made her "pure" again... isn't love grand?
So as fate would have it, Papa Greg shockingly turns out to be somehting of a turd who dumps Angel because of her hard partying days at the Dirty Dumpster. Read through a more modern lens I suspected this story might be about Papa Greg being a stalker type as he is characterized as being very controlling and rea-a-a-lly obsessed with not just Angel's own "purity" but the impurity of all other women, mostly because they kiss in public, and as we learn from Papa Greg, "all those other chicks come on too strong... not like you, Angel!"

Note to all fans of literary elements, Greg also uses a bit of allusion in this dandy of a line: "Angel... you're my Earth angel!" (Of course, Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) is a doo-wop classic originally released by The Penguins in 1954.)

Fear not, romance fans, Angel does find love in the form of a jet black maned professional (not the same as the scarf wearing meany-head on the cover) who ultimately finds her pure enough to love "forever."

As teased on the cover: "Analyze His Handwriting!'... uh-oh, secrets out!
In superhero comic books of the time, filler pages were often used for pin-ups and cutaway schematics of secret hideaways, but in romance mags dating tips were used. The odd thing is that the tie and energy someone put into the throwaway handwriting analysis seen above could have been used to write some unique romance stories--that thing clearly took some energy and effort!

If you find that you've been bitten by the Young Love bug, just let me know via e-mail and I'll be happy to lend it to you. I you do find out it's worth a gazillion dollars, we'll need to split the profits three ways.

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