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Our Love Story #1-39 (October 1969 – February 1973; # 22-39 Reprints)
Our Love Story, My Love! from Gorilla Daze.
Both debuting in late-1969, the two titles started strongly with Stan Lee supplying new stories for some of Marvel’s top artists to delineate. John Buscema, John Romita, Don Heck, Gene Colan, and even Jim Steranko all had featured strips, but, as time went on, the new strips were gradually dropped in favour of reprinted material from the 1950s and 60s. And then they seemingly decided even that was too much trouble and just reprinted last year’s comic instead.
With marketing like that, I’d imagine the books never sold particularly well. Indeed, Marvel only had the two romance books, while DC persevered with half a dozen during the same period. It all came to end in 1976 when My Love #39 and Our Love Story #38 were the final issues. Meanwhile, DC carried on with its final title Young Love for another year.
Loving-my-love by Frank Santoro:
A re-vamp of the old school Romance comics published in the ’50s and ’60s, My Love was a late ’60s update with the Marvel Bullpen in full swing (It was also a Marvel romance title from 1949 that turned into Two Gun Western at issue #5). Generally, when people think of Romance comics they think of the classic ’40s-’50s vibe or maybe the gawdy but sharp Charltons of the ’70s. But My Love slips right in between there. It has the innocence of Laugh-in with that bright, morning fresh hippie vibe of the late ’60s and the beginnings of the lurid, graphic ’70s. That’s how I see it anyhow.
Basically, there seemed to be formula for each issue: two new stories and a reprint from an older Marvel romance comic. Many of the earlier issues of My Love have reprints from older Marvel (Timely, Atlas) ’50s and ’60s material and it’s interesting to see the different framing styles employed in each era. My Love #9 (1970) has two stories drawn by Vince Colletta that look like reprints from a mid-’60s comic. How do I know? Well, it doesn’t say that they’re reprints but the fashions tell me so as well as the framing style. Colletta employs a very conservative and static “camera” compared to the “free and easy” Gene Colan story’s layouts and fashion in the same issue.
Steranko’s famous “My Heart Broke in Hollywood” from Our Love Story #5 (1970) is reprinted in My Love #23 (1973) and it’s interesting to see how the graphics and fashion of ’69-’70 clash somewhat with the other stories and ads in the 1973 reprint. This might be my favorite aspect of this series: How this newsstand mag packaged fashion to girls in the late ’60s/early ’70s. For example, Steranko’s story depicted 1969 styles, a kind of hopeful, flowery & bright world – and in the reprint what follows that story is a grim & gritty story about a black couple who are squarely set in early ’70s realism. Besides the reflection of “society” at large changing there’s also a reflection of it in the artwork itself. Colan’s story is dark and heavy in tone with lots of shadows beautifully inked by John Romita while Steranko’s story is an exercise in light and color. The times were a-changin’, eh?
Try and track these little beauties down, True Believers. These little comics have been quite elusive over the years to your faithful narrator. Seems these comics are popular with art director types and graphic designers. Folks who aren’t necessarily comics fans snatch these babies up and lock them away. I rarely see them floating around in the bins. Often I see them encased in jeweled plastic behind the counter cuz most shop keepers know they can jack up the price and sit on them until an art director type comes along. Some of this stuff has been reprinted in trades like the Steranko story but most of it is stuff I’ve never seen before.
Think of it: a treasure trove of stories about cute girls drawn by your favorite combination of Marvel Bullpen artist team. Buscema and Giacoia. Colan and Romita. Heck and Ayers. Mix and match, keep looking & you’ll find a combination you’ll like, I guarantee it. What I find really interesting is thinking about how much fun these guys must have had on these stories. I’m imagining that the stories were a welcome change from the superhero genre. I imagine they liked being able to draw more of the real world and it seems to show in the backgrounds and in the clothes that the characters are wearing. In most Marvel superhero mags, the backgrounds are reduced to rooftops & laboratories and the characters are wearing costumes. Here in these romance stories the reverse takes hold. The backgrounds and the clothes vary wildly. Location and fashion demand it.