Love on the Racks

A History of American Romance Comics


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About the Book

For the better part of three decades romance comics were an American institution. Nearly 6,000 titles were published between 1947 and 1977, and for a time one in five comics sold in the U.S. was a romance comic.
This first full-length study examines the several types of romance comics, their creators and publishing history. The author explores significant periods in the development of the genre, including the origins of Archie Comics and other teen publications, the romance comic “boom and bust” of the 1950s, and their sudden disappearance when fantasy and superhero comics began to dominate in the late 1970s.

About the Author(s)

Michelle Nolan has been a newspaper and magazine feature writer for more than 50 years. She received an Inkpot Award for her work as a comics and pop cultural historian and entrepreneur. She has written more than 12,000 published articles in newspapers and magazines along with contributions to dozens of books. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Michelle Nolan
Format: paperback (7 x 10)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 56 photos (15 in color), appendix, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2018 [2008]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7530-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0490-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Pulp Love and True Confessions: What Came Before Romance Comics      7
2. Twixt Teens and Tears: How Teen Humor and Girls’ Comics Provided a Bridge to Romance      14
3. Young Romance in Bloom: How Love Came to the Comic Books      29
4. Love Conquers All: The Record Growth of Romance Comics in 1949      43
5. The Love Glut: The Romance Boom and Bust of 1950      62
6. Writers of the Purple Page: A Short-Lived Flirtation with Western Romance      86
7. You Can’t Keep a Good Girl (or Guy) Down: Before the Comics Code—How Romance Comics Rebounded in the 1950s      100
8. Minor-League Lovers: One-Shot Wonders and Other Short-Lived Flirtations      127

Between pages 150 and 151 are 8 color plates containing 15 photographs

9. Cut That Cleavage! Before and After the Comics Code Authority      151
10. The Bland Leading the Bland: When Tears Began to Flow Freely      178
11. Hippies, Harpies and Heroines: National Comics Takes Charge in the 1960s and ’70s      193
12. Where Love Has Gone: The End of Young Romance and Young Love      206

Appendix: Catalog of American Romance Comics

Bibliography      221
General Index      223
Title and Character Index      226

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Highly recommended…all readers”—Choice;
  • “Michelle Nolan is one of the most knowledgable comics collectors out there…impressive”—Comics Buyer’s Guide;
  • “A ‘must buy’. This book does not disappoint…definitive…excellent…in depth”—The Golden Age of Comic Books;
  • “The first book devoted entirely to the rarely studied world of romance comics”—;
  • “Nolan has done her homework…top notch…McFarland is to be commended”— Collectables.