Panels from "Down with Romance" in Heart Throbs #100 (February-March 1966), pencils by Don Heck
Hotchy motchy! That's a whole lotta DC romances photostatted into that rack in the second panel. Let me see if I can ID 'em all, which may take my mind off the sight of Dr. Don Blake browsing medical magazines at the newsstand.
Cover of Secret Hearts #107 (October 1965), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
Cover of Young Romance #138 (October-November 1965), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
Cover of Falling in Love #75 (May 1965), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
Hey, hey, hey, don't be jumping up at down and pointing at that one, yelling "Hey Bully! Lookit that one! Lookit that!' I'll get back to it. To continue...ladies and gentlemen...The Beatles!:
Cover of Girls' Romances #109 (June 1965), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
And you can see two copies of the final comic at the extreme right of each shelf. They're oddly not only colored differently from the original but differently from each other
Cover of Girls' Love Stories #113 (August 1965), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
Whew! That's a whole lotta Gene Colanoscopy. I mostly know him for his work on Daredevil and Doctor Strange, but he's got a huge number of beautifully drawn romance stories under his belt, as well! Let's return to that intriguing cover of Falling in Love #75, this time larger so you can see all the comic books featured on its cover!
While the lovely miss on the cover of this comic book has her big baby brown eyes on that handsome hunk who dressed in the dark (really, where do you buy a mustard-colored blazer? And why would you pair it with a candy-apple red shirt, a blue striped ascot, and Sansabelt™ slacks?), my attention is captured instead not by the all-green Dr. Don Blake grinning idiotically in the background but instead all those stacks of DC romance comics on the newsstand shelves! Hmm, don't you guys stock Superman or World's Finest or even Fantastic Four? So, because it's a habit I can't break myself away from, I tried to identify all the comic books on that rack! Here goes...and here's some more lovey-dovey Gene Colan art!
Cover of Secret Hearts #96 (June 1964), pencils and inks by Gene Colan, letters by Ira Schnapp
I could not identify the issue of Heart Throbs that's next on the shelf...and I don't think Colan based it on a real one. It's impossible to tell without more of the cover on display, but he does reproduce the then-current Heart Throbs logo. There are no comics that reproduce the logo in red or pink like this. Here's the inset along with a representative cover from that period. And yes ma'am, that's Elvis!
Cover of Heart Throbs #95 (April-May 1965), pencils and inks by Win Mortimer, letters by Ira Schnapp
We don't see enough of the comic to the extreme right of Heart Throbs to identify it. Yet. (Stay tuned!) Now, onto the next shelf...
Cover of Young Romance #132 (October-November 1964), pencils and inks by John Romita Sr., letters by Ira Schnapp
Cover of Girls' Love Stories #106 (October 1964), pencils and inks by Jay Scott Pike, letters by Ira Schnapp
Cover of Falling in Love #71 (November 1964), pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Joe Giella (?), letters by Ira Schnapp
Like the issue of Heart Throbs, it's hard to precisely ID the Girls' Romances on the next shelf. Here's one from the right period with the same color scheme, and Richard "The Original Jason Bourne" Chamberlain to boot!
Cover of Girls' Romances #104 (October 1964), pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Joe Giella (?), letters by Ira Schnapp
Cover of Young Love #46 (November-December 1964), pencils and inks by John Romita Sr., letters by Ira Schnapp
Frequently the cover of a DC romance comic is just a repro of the splash page of one of the interior stories, but Falling in Love #75 has a similar but different splash page! And hey, there's a buncha comics again!
Splash page of "The Girl Who Won the Miss Young America Contest!" in Falling in Love #75 (May 1965), pencils by Gene Colan
Hey, look! Now I can identify that comic in the top-right as the only superhero comic book in the bunch, but one that fits in with the female readership of DC's romance comics, the ever wonderful Wonder Woman!
Cover of Wonder Woman (1942 series) #152 (February 1965), pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Mike Esposito, letters by Ira Schnapp
In this story, our heroine Janie is meeting a man and reflecting back on the circumstances that brought her to this romantic state of affairs (in other words: "Janie: Who She Is and How She Came to Be"). And wouldn't ya know it, it's all because of comic books!
"Miss Young America" was an ongoing feature in Young Romance that spotlighted female comics readers who would send in their photos and a little bio. Winners would get their images drawn by John Romita; they'd be spotlighted on the comic page, and they'd get the original Romita art of themselves. Meanwhile over at Marvel, Jack Kirby heard the words "get your original art" and began to plot his escape to DC.
"Miss Young America" pages from Young Romance #133 and 134 (December 1964 and February 1965), art by John Romita Sr.
Janie sends in her glamour-gal sister Fran's photos under her own name (huh? what? Since she's telling Fran she's gonna do it, why not send it in under Fran's name to begin with?) and whatdaya know, she wins! (Hooray!) That's the way comics magic works, folks.
Sadly, however, the verisimilitude Gene Colan brought to the depiction of DC romances does not extend to the magazine Mad. Here's the closest I can find an issue of an ish of Mad from around the same period...I'd guess that Colan drew the logo from memory, not reference! (Remember, these were the days before Mad and DC were both owned by Warner.)
Well, of course Janie's nervous about meeting Peter because that wasn't really her picture, but it turns out that Peter had sent her a photo f his much less gruesome brother, and apparently she sold her hair in order to buy him a really fine watchfob, and he sold his watch to get her these fancy combs, and cuticle frames and shinbone polish were also ironically exchanged...look, I dunno, it's a romance comic and I'm just skimming here. Still, that's a nice story: the cute couple can tell their eventual 2.5 kids that they met thanks to a comic book, and I betcha that never happens today! No, probably the closest a married couple could claim in our modern techological age is that they met on Twitter...but who's gonna believe that crazy, far-out, incredible story?
So, happy endings all 'round. But hey, wait: whatever happened to the girl in that story from Heart Throbs #100 that we started this galloping outta-control post with, waaaaaay up there at the top? Well, her story is not as happy: she perished during a red-sky event of the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Panel from "Down with Romance" in Heart Throbs #100 (February-March 1966), pencils by Don Heck
As we say around these here parts: well, that'll happen.