Apr 25, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 426: True Love #1, January 1986 ("Wuv, twue wuv" Week, Day 6)
As with yesterday's comic, this one is a reprint of old romance stories, though without the re-scripting. A collection of tales from Standard Comics in the 1950s, featuring some of the luminaries of the industry, these stories are a welcome break from the heart-wrenching, angst-filled stories of teenage heartache. These are stories of what comes next, of the "happily ever after," and how it can oftentimes be just as difficult as early romantic entanglements. Which is probably, as someone whose been married for 20 years, why this comic appealed to me more than most I've read this week. As someone who understands the kind of daily work involved in being in love, and loving, it's nice to see such subjects given a good treatment.
Even more, one of the stories in this issue features a woman who can fix a car, and doesn't take shit from a mopey man with whom she has a relationship. There's even a gentle-yet-heavy-handed exploration of PTSD in the wake of the Korean war, which offers an interesting perspective form which to start thinking about these sorts of romance comics. Industry creators have, for a long time, claimed that one can tell grown up stories using a medium that is far too often associated with children's literature, and these stories offer evidence. Instead of relegating the medium to one that is only useful for action stories, we see from this sampling that creators were trying to tell stories about the things that move us, and that we are moved by, in our daily lives - not unlike most serious, literary authors. True Love shows us that there are romance stories for grown-ups, even if the cultural mores of the 1950s leak through a little too prevalently sometimes.
Also as with yesterday's comic, I read the opening text feature, which revealed where these comics had originally appeared. It was nice to see acknowledgement of the fact that most of these stories were written by men for women, and that that opens up the stories to a slew of critical problems, but I found that, by and large, they treated women with far more respect and interest than the teen romances I've been reading this week. True Love was a 2-issue mini-series, and I think I'll be looking for the second issue for another sampling of these thoughtful stories.
One last thing - the cover does not have anything to do with the interior. It's beautiful, as is most of Dave Stevens' work, but it's actually the promotional blurb on the inside front cover that I find amusing. It calls this work "An unmistakable gem of a cover." Noting the pink hair of the lady on the poster, I can only imagine it's a shout-out to Jem and the Holograms, which was first airing around the time this comic came out. Eclipse always was a clever comics publisher.
Last day, tomorrow, and something a little different. See you then.