Book of the Day - 4/07/04

Tender Love Stories #1 Feb 1971

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $32 -



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One of the great things about comic collecting is the wide variety of genres that a collector has to choose from.  Over the years every imaginable genre has been represented in comics form.  Western, science fiction, horror, crime, biographical, and the always present superhero genre are just some of the subjects to choose from.  Some of these once popular genres have died away in current comics as tastes and even the demographics of who reads comics have changed over time.  There was once a time that girls actually read comics in numbers that would make a Barbie marketing agent drool.   And as a result, comic companies catored to them with comics that a self-respecting male kid wouldn't touch.  One such genre was romance....

Tender Love Stories (TLS) was one of the first 4-color comics published by Skywald Comics, a line started by former Marvel production chief, Sol Brodsky and Israel and Herschel Waldman.  Though Skywald would be become better known for their black and white horror magazine line, they tried to penetrate the comics racks dominated by Marvel and DC.  They failed within a year due to low sales, a by-product of bad distribution, and a curious, bad in hindsight, selection of properties.   Skywald concentrated their 4-color line on Westerns, a fast fading genre.  They also featured a Tarzan clone and reintroduced the Heap, one of the first swamp creatures in comics.  These properties had to compete against Marvel and DC's superhero titles that were everywhere on early 70s comics racks.  A Skywald comic would generally have one new short story with the rest of the issue being filled with reprints.   You could say that Skywald had their work cut-out for them.

 TLS is another example.  Marvel and DC still published new romance comics but their focus was still on the much better selling superhero titles.  It could be said that the romance genre had been passed by in the early 70s.  A typical story consisted of a girl pining for a guy she couldn't have due to another woman, his career, or like in the TLS story, his music.  Women were regularly depicted as subservent to men and in some cases facing a life of domestic heartbreak if the guy was not willing to love them.  This was directly opposite what was occurring in the real world where woman's rights was gaining momentum and free love was still a mantra.  It could be argued also that girls weren't reading comics anymore, there were other magazines (Teen Beat being one) where girls could get their teen idol/romance fix, and without them, the romance genre couldn't survive.

Tender Love Stories only lasted 4 issues; surprisingly the only Skywald comics to last more than 3 issues.  One of the reasons that Skywald chose these properties, in spite of their lack of demand in the marketplace, was probably the fact they had a surplus of western (especially), romance, and jungle reprints they could publish and geared their line towards those versus what would actually sell on the racks.  Regardless, romance comics are great reading if only to see how society has changed over time and can be quite funny.  Some stories and situations would be extremely frowned upon in these politically correct days. 

You'd be hard pressed to get a collector to freely admit they collect romance comics.  But don't be fooled....there are more out there than will admit it.  And some are very hard core about it.  Due to general distain by dealers, some romance titles can be very difficult to find in nice shape, if at all.  For the collector who wants a challenge, try the romance titles.  Just be careful on who you tell.....