Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Number 2487: Kirby Unwanted

No, no! Jack Kirby is not unwanted, the story is “Unwanted,” and from Young Romance #10 (1949), drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Joe Simon. Mona Carter, in the story, has just gotten out of prison. She promises the warden she’ll go straight, but stepping out of the joint and into freedom she is met by her old criminal boyfriend.

I think it was audacious of Simon and Kirby to go into love comics. They supposedly created the genre, but is that true? Were their love comics the first on the stands? Someone enlighten me, please. When I think of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon I think of running, jumping, and flying fists. Action! Despite a panel in the middle of one of the pages showing a shootout in a bank, it is a love comic, and romance is generally talk and tears.



Brian Barnes said...

Kirby and Simon were two genius legends, but I really don't think they were well suited for romance comics like their were for other genres (superhero, monsters, etc.) Sometimes romance takes a lighter touch. I feel dirty for saying that, and probably deserve 2 years in comic jail!

One thing I like about this is, and it doesn't matter the century, if a women is sufficiently hot, like Mona, I highly doubt a stint in prison is going to chase off suitors!

Daniel [] said...

At one point, I searched the GCDb for series titles containing “Heart”, “Love”, or “Romance”. Some of the results were plainly not romance comics. With the exception of one magazine, whose title made it an unlikely candidate but about which there was no information beyond title and date, the earliest result was a series begun in 1947 by Simon and Kirby.

(This result not-withstanding that I once read “meta” story by Gaines and Feldstein in which they presented EC as the first publisher of romance comics.)

When I think about it, I can quickly point to earlier comic-strip and comic-book stories that were primarily about comedic romance, but I can't recall any that were primarily and overtly about romance taken seriously. (We could, of course, read many of them as primarily but covertly about romance or sexuality.)

Simon and Kirby were adapting to comic-book form a genre for which inexpensive, illustrated-prose magazines had already existed for some time. I'd be curious to learn what circulation figures were for those magazines; the gamble of adaptation might have looked quite good.

(And, yes, such stories also could be heard on the radio.)

Stilllurkingabout said...

Here's a link to the Jack Kirby page on Comic Book Creators Wiki, which goes into detail on S/K's creation of the first romance comic. Actually it's a good write up on his entire career. Lots of footnotes. :-)

Glad you're back to posting, even if only while the country works it's way though the pandemic.

Bill Sherman

Pappy said...

Daniel, I'm not surprised that EC might have claimed to have invented love comics. Bill Gaines also took sole credit for inventing the horror genre, said claim made to a Senate committee on juvenile delinquency. He could probably have taken credit for having the best horror comics or the best selling horror comics, but all those claims would have landed flat to a senate committee out to excoriate him.

I believe the bulk of comic books from the late '30s up until the love comics became a genre, were aimed solely at boys. When the love comics came along they were for young women, because a common assumption would be that boys would be reluctant to read a girl's comic book. But it is also my belief (without any proof) that huge sales for early love comics might have been because young men were also buying them.

(I just had an idea for a love comics story: a young man buys love comics yet keeps it a secret, not wanting to be teased by his pals. So he gets a job at a comic book company in the mail room, and finds out that many boys love love comics. He realizes that he and that bunch of love-loving males are using the comic books to get tips on how to get girls and women to like them. He uses the information to become a lady's man and so goes into business selling comic books to guys "under the table." I could call it, "I Was a Spy in the House of Love!"

Pappy said...

Bill, thanks for your note. I went to the link and it is very informative.

Right now I am re-reading Greg Theakston's series of Kirby reprints from Kirby's earliest days through the now-public domain comics of the late forties. While I might prefer his action artwork, he did the love comics from a woman's point of view, and I assume no matter the subject, he was ready to draw it. A true professional.

I have not put an end point on Pappy's, at least not yet. I have said before that because my software and whole set up is from about 2003, that I expect at any moment for my whole system to fail. Until then I will just keep cranking out blog entries.

Pappy said...

Brian, it could be that having been in jail might attract some guys, a counterpoint to the women who sent Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker) mash notes, sometimes including sexy pictures of themselves. The guy killed lots of people, and still attracted groupies. (What would any of those women have thought had he broken into their homes and said, while brandishing a big knife, "I just broke out of prison, and I'm ready to rock 'n' roll!")

I really have no problem with Kirby drawing love, but on an esthetic level I prefer his action panels rather than those of people standing around talking, and there was a lot of that in his Marvel Comics work in the sixties.