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Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics

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In the late 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — creators of Captain America — set the comics world on fire with the creation of a new genre that resulted in some of the best-selling American comic books of all time: the romance comics. The stories they created were exciting, innovative, and beautifully drawn, and remain a high point in both artists’ careers, even as Kirby we In the late 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — creators of Captain America — set the comics world on fire with the creation of a new genre that resulted in some of the best-selling American comic books of all time: the romance comics. The stories they created were exciting, innovative, and beautifully drawn, and remain a high point in both artists’ careers, even as Kirby went on to become the unrivaled King of Comics and co-creator (along with Stan Lee) of many of the most iconic characters in American history. These two towering titans of the field produced stories for titles such as Young Romance, Young Love, and Western Love for over twelve years until the genre ran out of steam in 1959, and Jack Kirby moved on to a little-known outfit called Marvel Comics. The Romance Comics of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby brings this wonderful work back to light by reprinting 21 stories in full-color, from 13 years of Simon and Kirby’s romance comics: 200 pages of never-before reprinted material painstakingly restored over a five-year period by award-winning artist and animator Michel Gagné (Flight, Star Wars: Clone Wars).


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In the late 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — creators of Captain America — set the comics world on fire with the creation of a new genre that resulted in some of the best-selling American comic books of all time: the romance comics. The stories they created were exciting, innovative, and beautifully drawn, and remain a high point in both artists’ careers, even as Kirby we In the late 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — creators of Captain America — set the comics world on fire with the creation of a new genre that resulted in some of the best-selling American comic books of all time: the romance comics. The stories they created were exciting, innovative, and beautifully drawn, and remain a high point in both artists’ careers, even as Kirby went on to become the unrivaled King of Comics and co-creator (along with Stan Lee) of many of the most iconic characters in American history. These two towering titans of the field produced stories for titles such as Young Romance, Young Love, and Western Love for over twelve years until the genre ran out of steam in 1959, and Jack Kirby moved on to a little-known outfit called Marvel Comics. The Romance Comics of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby brings this wonderful work back to light by reprinting 21 stories in full-color, from 13 years of Simon and Kirby’s romance comics: 200 pages of never-before reprinted material painstakingly restored over a five-year period by award-winning artist and animator Michel Gagné (Flight, Star Wars: Clone Wars).

30 review for Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Riley

    Joe Simon and Jack Kirby more know for works like Captain America also created probably less know today Romance Comics! The collection might be out dated, silly and cheese still fun to read. These works, especially early works deal with almost ever social issues at the time (except interracial and same-sex relationship that, at the time, which could of gotten at "best" lost of job. At worst jail or institute into mental hospital which unless rich were not good places).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Neno

    A beautifully restored (by Michel Gagne) overview of some of Simon and Kirby's romance output, from 1947 to 1959. As we know from previously reading Simon and Kirby romance comics, the early years are the hardest hitting, with dense, detailed, almost claustrophobic art, social concerns comics hadn't addressed before and characters you care about who seemingly stepped out of '30s Warner Bros. films. The post-code stories, by contrast, are glib, short, drawn quickly (i.e. cranked out) and border-lin A beautifully restored (by Michel Gagne) overview of some of Simon and Kirby's romance output, from 1947 to 1959. As we know from previously reading Simon and Kirby romance comics, the early years are the hardest hitting, with dense, detailed, almost claustrophobic art, social concerns comics hadn't addressed before and characters you care about who seemingly stepped out of '30s Warner Bros. films. The post-code stories, by contrast, are glib, short, drawn quickly (i.e. cranked out) and border-line bizarre in their heightened abbreviations of romance story tropes and formulas. There's been recent discussion online as to whether Kirby wrote these stories. I don't think there's any doubt he wrote most of them. The book is filled with his cadences, word choices, sentence structures, rhythms, ideas, themes and very deliberate ways of expressing himself. Specifically, much of the writing here sounds quite like the unpublished romance comics Kirby wrote and drew for DC in the early '70s. For better or worse, Kirby's writing sometimes had an unintentional formality, a sometimes awkward, didactic way of expression that was uniquely his, God love him for it. Who else could have written, "The years that bound us were snapping cords of living tissues that inflected horrible pain upon us both as the hand of death reached to sever the last remaining strand..."? From "The Town and Toni Benson!" Or, try this line on for size: "I didn't see the descending blow! Its devastating impact was transmitted to me through its unfortunate recipient." From "Sailor's Girl". And: "My meeting with Sophie Morrison Scott recalled to my mind the jungle sequence of an old movie in which the unarmed native having been frozen into immobility by the ominous low rumble of sound behind him, turns slowly about - and watches with terrible fascination the stealthy movements of the tigress as her sleek, cat-like shape emerges into full view...peering out of Sophie's blase mask was a predatory animal poised to spring..." Great stuff, from "The Town and Toni Benson!"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    I bumped into this book accidentally in the library while looking through the graphic novels section for something interesting. I never thought I'd end up reading a collection of 1940s/1950s romance comics but I'm so glad I did! They were so fun and melodramatic and despite the cheesiness and the obviously outdated gender roles it was really romantic and very enjoyable! The art is vibrant and very beautiful and the stories pack a lot of emotion into only a few pages each which I found really exc I bumped into this book accidentally in the library while looking through the graphic novels section for something interesting. I never thought I'd end up reading a collection of 1940s/1950s romance comics but I'm so glad I did! They were so fun and melodramatic and despite the cheesiness and the obviously outdated gender roles it was really romantic and very enjoyable! The art is vibrant and very beautiful and the stories pack a lot of emotion into only a few pages each which I found really exciting. Probably wouldn't be to everyone's taste but personally I loved it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

    The comics that started the romance comics trend in the 1940s and 1950s. I've read some of the individual issues before but thoroughly enjoying reading them again here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elliot Huxtable

    An intriguing collection of a now-forgotten genre of comicbooks - the romance comic. Sweet and nostalgic, these issues captue the innocence and hope of the post-war period.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Variaciones Enrojo

    Reseña de Andrés Accorsi para su blog: http://365comicsxyear.blogspot.com.ar... No aprendo más... Allá por el 08/11/12, cuando me devoré ese masacote de historietas románticas publicadas por DC en los ´60 (Young Love) afirmé que ese libro era el único de su género que me pensaba comprar. Pero apareció muy barato este, con historietas aún más antiguas, que van de 1947 a fines de los ´50, firmadas nada menos que por Joe Simon y Jack Kirby, los inventores del género romántico. La presencia de los pr Reseña de Andrés Accorsi para su blog: http://365comicsxyear.blogspot.com.ar... No aprendo más... Allá por el 08/11/12, cuando me devoré ese masacote de historietas románticas publicadas por DC en los ´60 (Young Love) afirmé que ese libro era el único de su género que me pensaba comprar. Pero apareció muy barato este, con historietas aún más antiguas, que van de 1947 a fines de los ´50, firmadas nada menos que por Joe Simon y Jack Kirby, los inventores del género romántico. La presencia de los próceres y el hecho de que fueran sólo 21 historietas y reeditadas a color me llamó la atención como para volver a darle una chance a estos “secretos del corazón” que en su mejor época vendían –literalmente- millones de ejemplares y lograban holgadamente eso que hoy parece imposible para el comic yanki, que es llegar masivamente al público femenino. Entre muchas historias muy chatas y muy pelotudas, encontré un par realmente fuertes. “Her Tragic Love” es la historia de una mina enamorada de un tipo condenado a muerte por un crimen, y además del romance hay una situación muy tensa, en la que no sabés si Sam Ford es culpable o inocente hasta el final. “Fraulein Sweetheart” cuenta el romance a contramano entre una chica alemana, que fuera fanática del Führer, y un soldado yanki de los que ocupan la ciudad de Marburg una vez derrotado el Tercer Reich. Un tema espinoso, como el de la desigualdad entre las clases sociales, está muy bien abordado en “Shame”. La extensa “I Want Your Man!” (14 páginas con texto como para 48) le da una linda vuelta de tuerca al viejo tema de “dos minitas compiten por un chongo”. Y la otra que me sorprendió fue “Lovesick!”, con un giro argumental infrecuente, que deja muy mal parado al protagonista, mientras que casi siempre las que se mandan cagadas grossas (y a veces aprenden la lección) son las chicas. El principal problema, del que no zafa ninguna historia, es que Simon narraba en pocas páginas historias bastante complejas. Y como Kirby nunca metía más de siete cuadros por página, hay páginas realmente repletas de texto, donde entre globos y bloques se morfan más del 60% de las viñetas. Los diálogos son blanditos, muy reiterativos, y los bloques ahondan en lo que el dibujo no muestra, básicamente en lo que las minitas (que casi siempre narran en off) piensan y sienten. Rápidamente te cae la ficha de que si no leés los bloques de texto, las historietas también se entienden y hasta se disfrutan un poquito más. Con estas restricciones, más las que se suman a partir de 1954 cuando el Comics Code Authority achica las márgenes de lo que se puede mostrar en una historieta, está todo dado para que la mayoría de los relatos, leídos hoy, resulten un embole, soso, obvio y con menos onda que Inés Pertiné. Por suerte, alguito se puede rescatar, sobre todo comparado con lo que vimos en el Showcase de Young Love, donde no había ni en pedo argumentos tan interesantes como esos cinco que –en distinto grado- me gustaron. El dibujo del Rey está a años luz de los trabajos con los que redefinió el comic-book en los ´60. Arranca muy pegado a su estética “cuarentosa” (esa derivada de Milton Caniff y Alex Raymond, pero sin el virtuosismo de ninguno de los dos) y de a poco evoluciona hacia el Kirby más identificable, aunque –por supuesto- le falta el power, la intensidad, la emoción de sus comics en los que chabones musculosos con poderes se cagan a trompadas. Alguna vez yo dije que un comic de Kirby sin machaca es como un clásico sin goles, un boliche sin minas, un kiosco sin alfajores... y lo sostengo. Acá suelen estar muy buenos los dibujos más grandes, los que el Rey se mandaba (no siempre) a modo de splash page; y después, en el “viñeta a viñeta”, hay lindas composiciones, pero no genialidades. Quizás debido a que el texto (no el dibujo) llevaba adelante los relatos, y porque al haber tanta cantidad de letras por cuadro, el ídolo casi no tenía lugar para dibujar. En fin, si te interesa conocer cómo nace la historieta romántica, o querés ver qué hacía Kirby antes de irse a DC a crear a los Challengers of the Unknown y esas historietas bizarras que vimos el 29/05/12, este libro está muy bien. Si no, la verdad que no se justifica el esfuerzo.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics (1947-57/ Collected 2012): written and illustrated by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; restored and edited by Michel Gagne: That time in the late 1940's and early 1950's when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby invented the Romance comic book for an under-served audience of teen-aged girls? Remember that? No? Well, it happened. And those comics were immensely popular. But then the Great Disaster of American comic books, the Comics Code Authority, came to Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics (1947-57/ Collected 2012): written and illustrated by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; restored and edited by Michel Gagne: That time in the late 1940's and early 1950's when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby invented the Romance comic book for an under-served audience of teen-aged girls? Remember that? No? Well, it happened. And those comics were immensely popular. But then the Great Disaster of American comic books, the Comics Code Authority, came to pass. America's rapidly evolving species of comic books for teens and adults were neutered, rendered into stories primarily of interest only to children. But during that brief flourishing, Romance comics were huge. And Simon and Kirby demonstrate in these pages, lovingly restored by Canada's own Michel Gagne, that they were masters of something other than superhero comics. The dozen or so pre-Code stories collected here are a lot of fun -- pulpy, full of emotion, and often dealing with quite adult characters and situations. One can see why they were so popular. They're models of narrative economy. But they also hew quite close to realism in Simon and Kirby's art, with carefully modulated bursts of melodrama and bombast. As with a lot of other pre-Code comics, these suggest an American comic-book industry and readership unencumbered by the ball-and-chain of the superhero. It's like catching glimpses of a lost, better world. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Jack Kirby and Joe Simon pioneered romance comics, and this book assembles a generous collection of them with good historical essays and restoration work. The art and writing was done by their stable of talent, but Kirby and Simon oversaw every stage. I was expecting plenty of cheese, and while there is some of that, the stories can be surprisingly effective at times. If you want the bizarre excesses of some romance comics, you'll have to look elsewhere. Most of these are pretty straightforward. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon pioneered romance comics, and this book assembles a generous collection of them with good historical essays and restoration work. The art and writing was done by their stable of talent, but Kirby and Simon oversaw every stage. I was expecting plenty of cheese, and while there is some of that, the stories can be surprisingly effective at times. If you want the bizarre excesses of some romance comics, you'll have to look elsewhere. Most of these are pretty straightforward. The art is a mixed bag, but every once in a while, usually on the first pages, you see King Kirby's hand at work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    You guys, you have no clue how much I adore romance comics. They're ridiculous and ham-fisted and display the strangest and worst (and surprisingly, sometimes amazing) gender politics. Kirby's art is a joy to see restored, and Joe Simon's bombastic plots feature women taming sailors and women almost dying in stampedes if not for their cowboy love interests. Seriously, this volume is tons of fun, even in the Comics Code era. Sure, the stories are blander, and women have less sexual agency, but so You guys, you have no clue how much I adore romance comics. They're ridiculous and ham-fisted and display the strangest and worst (and surprisingly, sometimes amazing) gender politics. Kirby's art is a joy to see restored, and Joe Simon's bombastic plots feature women taming sailors and women almost dying in stampedes if not for their cowboy love interests. Seriously, this volume is tons of fun, even in the Comics Code era. Sure, the stories are blander, and women have less sexual agency, but somehow, people's fever-pitch emotions are even more entertaining and hard to understand in the 1950's stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Retro romance at its finest. The stories are refreshing in their earnestness, and occasionally sobering in their portrayals of conventional romance with its rewards and pitfalls. Especially interesting in the collection is the contrast in story-lines pre/post censorship bylaws. Brimming with snappy one-liners, exuberant physicality, and rose-tinted romance, this collection is a sexy edition to any bookshelf.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    These are hilariously lurid - just a book of cover art alone would be gold. But the plots? Some serious WTF. A member of the Nazi youth gives up her American love because she can't denounce Hitler; a woman throws herself out of a window because she thinks her man is dying in the electric chair; there's the hilariously titled My Cousin From Milwaukee; and Norma, Queen of the Hotdogs. You just can't make this stuff up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Harold

    I'd call this a mixed bag: Two of the stories are obviously not drawn by Kirby, who probably did just the layouts, and the post Comics Code tales are losers. However, there are a few classics among the rest and it's cool to see Kirby trying to tell a story without a lot of the dynamic action scenes which are his trademark.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, better known for creating Captain America, Iron Man, the Fanastic Four, etc etc, also wrote a lot of romance comics for teens and adults in the 40s/50s and they are hilariously awesome and weird. The strips were beautifully restored, and there are bonus covers in there as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Osvaldo

    Evidence that some ideas of hetero-love are queer as hell. Read more here: Evidence that some ideas of hetero-love are queer as hell. Read more here:

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Carrier

    Read for the summer reading program at MPL.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    I got this from the main library and its awesome.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Wellman

  18. 4 out of 5

    Toby

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  20. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Hacker

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann Santori

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott Walker

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Cristiani

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ih8JaneAusten

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary Stapleton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Philip

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard Pose

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Corupe

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