Let’s Talk Comics: Romance

It’s February, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and love is in the air! Typically you might not think of “romance” and “comics” together – but in the 1940s and 1950s as superhero popularity waned, romance reigned. And it was all started by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in Young Romance no. 1 (Sept-Oct. 1947). (You may know Simon and Kirby better as the creators of Captain America.)

Young Romanceno. 1 (September-October 1947) and no. 208 (November-December 1975), Feature/National Periodical Publications. Serial & Government Publications Division.

In addition to being the earliest, Young Romance was also one of the longest running series with 208 issues, ending publication in 1975. Simon and Kirby’s comic inspired dozens of series featuring stories of despair, jealousy, secrets, trials and tribulations but most of all, love.

Girl Confessions, no. 14 (May 1952), Cornell Publishing. Serial & Government Publications Division.

Modern Love, no. 3 (October-November 1949), Tiny Tot Comics. Serial & Government Publications Division.













Romance comics were so popular, even Wonder Woman followed the trend for a time!

Sensation Comics, no. 97 (May-June 1950), National Comics. Serial & Government Publications Division.

Like many other golden age comics, romance comics were inspired by earlier pulp fiction stories and spanned a variety of sub-genres ranging from confessionals to westerns, military stories to teen angst (and humor), and everything in between. Some of the publishers, such as Charlton, Fawcett, Lev Gleason, Quality, and St. John, were especially prolific. At the height of their popularity in 1949-50, there were hundreds of issues of romance comics being published. And even after the implementation of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, romance comics continued to publish, though perhaps they were a little bit less risque.


Frontier Romances, no. 2 (February-March 1950), Avon Periodicals; G.I. Sweethearts, no. 32 (June 1953), Comic Magazines. Serial & Government Publications Division.

The cover artwork ranged from painted illustrations to photographs and included a wide range of comic styles. In addition to Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, many other well-known comic artists worked on romance titles, including Matt Baker, whose work is featured on the cover of Teen-Age Romances no. 2, as well as Alex Toth, Steve Ditko and Frank Frazetta. Teen-Age Romances no. 2 also features artwork by Lily Renee, a pioneering early female comic artist known for her work with publisher Fiction House.

Archie Comics, no. 3 (Summer 1943), M.L.J. Magazines; Teen-Age Romances, no. 2 (April 1949), St. John; Campus Loves, no. 1 (December 1949), Comic Magazines. Serial & Government Publications Division.

Romance comic titles would shift between various cover styles over the course of their publication. The photo covers occasionally featured actors – such as Sweethearts with Marilyn Monroe and Richard Widmark and Dream Book of Love with Donna Reed and Montgomery Clift.

Sweethearts, no. 119 (January 1953), Fawcett; Dream Book of Love, no. 1 (June-July 1954), Magazine Enterprises. Serial & Government Publications Division.

One of the most rare romance comics here at the Library of Congress, Negro Romance, was unique in featuring African-American characters positively. The Library acquired issue no. 1 in 2014, and the recent donation from Stephen A. Geppi includes issue no. 4, which reprints material from no. 2 (August 1950).

Negro Romance, no. 1 (June 1950) and no. 4 (May 1955), Fawcett/Charlton. Serial & Government Publications Division.

There are literally hundreds of romance comics in our collection – including issues of Forbidden Love, My Own Romance, Perfect Love, Romantic Adventures, Wedding Bells, True Sweetheart Secrets and more! You can read more about the history of romance comics in books like Love on the Racks by Michelle Nolan, Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics by Michael Barson, and Heart Throbs: The Best of DC Romance Comics by Naomi Scott. Do you have a favorite romance comic? Tell us in the comments!


Native American and Indigenous News and Comics

The Cherokee Nation became the first Native American tribe with a tribal newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. The Serial & Government Publications Division holds a number of original issues of the Cherokee Phoenix, first published on February 21, 1828. The newspaper was printed “partly with English, and partly with Cherokee print; and all matter which is common […]

Celebrating Comics’ Champion Stan Lee

Whether you are a comics fan or not, chances are you have heard of Stan Lee. His larger than life personality and dedication to the fans are some of the many things that people are remembering in the wake of his passing this week at age 95. Lee, Marvel’s “Chairman Emeritus,” unofficial ambassador, and alliteration […]

The Evolution of Frankenstein in Comics and Culture: Monster, Villain, and Hero

When Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her novel Frankenstein 200 years ago, she could not have imagined the liberties that would be taken with her characters in the future. Published in 1818, Frankenstein was a success and became so popular that the character of Frankenstein’s monster became a well-known image even in the 1800s. “Everybody, or nearly […]

Let’s Talk Comics: Crime

Inspired by the true detective and mystery pulp fiction magazines from the early 20th century, such as Black Mask, Detective Story, and G-Men, crime comics were one of the most popular genres of the Golden Age during the 1940s and 1950s. But public fascination with crime dates back even earlier with publications such as The […]

Remembering Comics Artist Marie Severin

Legendary artist Marie Severin passed away a few weeks ago, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of her works that are available at the Library of Congress and highlight her decades-long career in the comic book industry. Marie began working as a colorist for EC (Entertaining Comics) in the 1950’s and […]

September = Comics

For me, the end of the summer has become a time of year when I get to work extensively with our independent comic materials in the Small Press Expo Collection. Every year since 2011, staff from the Library of Congress have attended the Small Press Expo, a festival dedicated to celebrating all things indie comics, […]

Hungry for Hippo?

If hippopotamus was on the menu, would you try it? That’s what America almost did in 1910! Corporate beef monopolies, stricter regulations, and meat shortages all combined to create soaring meat prices nationwide.  Senator Robert Broussard proposed a solution: import African animals to the U.S. for meat (61st Cong. 2nd sess. H.R. 23261). Broussard brought […]