The PopCult Bookshelf
Many times I’ve sung the praises of Yoe Books here in PopCult, and it’s time to do it once again. I’ve previously raved over Yoe’s terrific collections of pre-code horror comics, Steve Ditko’s monster comics from Charlton and his ongoing reprinting of Bud Sagendorf’s classic Popeye comic books.
Now Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni have launched a new bi-monthly title in conjunction with IDW, “Weird Love.” This book dredges up the best of the worst of romance comics which have fallen into the public domain. At one time, romance comics were among the best-sellers in the industry, but that time is long gone. The last of the mainstream romance comics fell by the wayside in the late 1970s, and the genre is pretty much forgotten now.
That’s what makes “Weird Love” such a treat. These are stories intended for young females. Many of the pre-date the comics code, so attempts to shock are plentiful. Many of the stories were cranked out by the same folks who were producing Z-Grade horror stories, and the tone of many of these stories is hilariously similar. The stories in “Weird Love” are like the best exploitation films. They try to shock, often failing in the most amusing manner. The unintentional humor, aided by the dated nature of the settings and dialogue, make “Weird Love” one of the funniest comic books on the market.
Two issues have been published so far, and they are well worth seeking out (if you can find them, the first issue was an unexpected hit). I’m sure that these will be collected in hardcovers, but you may not want to wait that long, and these stories might just work better in smaller doses.
The first issue opens with “I Fell For A Commie,” a sweet revolutionary meets girl tale that includes, in a thought bubble, the line, “I must tolerate Tom’s political opinions…even though I can’t accept them!” A sentiment held by many women who date guys who watch FOX News.
This story is followed by what seems like a one-page PSA for Men’s Rights Activists, reprinted from a 1971 Charlton comic. Then we find the cover story, “Love of a Lunatic.” It’s a heart-warming tale about how love can overcome anything, even inherited mental illness, abusive parents and forced institutionalization.
The rest of the stories, seen through modern eyes, have the same camp value as watching old educational films like “Duck and Cover.” The Charlton Comics stories, most likely written by Joe Gill, seem to indicate a less-than-enlightened attitude toward women. The fact that most of these stories were probably written by middle-aged men trying to cater to a pre-teen girl audience makes a lot of them fall-down-laughing funny.
If a woman tries to “tame” a man, it’s okay for him to beat her. A guy can snore, skip shaving and ogle other women, but that’s all balanced out by his prowess at kissing.
The second issue brings us tales of Escort Girls, the sensitively-titled “Too Fat To Love,” a girl falling in with the wrong crowd and getting hooked on pills, a bear that acts as a match-maker, a businessman distracted by his secretary’s mini-skirt, an unconventional beauty and a one-page profile of that handsome young actor, Ronald Reagan.
“Weird Love” is a great comic for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000-style bad movies. These are just hugely entertaining, bad weird comics, and it’s cool that we can have them served up in such a delightful package.