I have a soft spot in my heart for ACG (American Comics Group), as they brought us the first ongoing horror comic (Adventures Into the Unknown) as well as Herbie. Long before it was popular to go ‘green’, ACG started recycling some of their romance covers, but only after making some rather odd modifications.
I recall reading a piece in Comic Book Marketplace about alterations made to pre-Code stories in order to make them more appropriate for the post-Code world. She showcased a very interesting story in which an ‘ugly duckling’ girl was mistreated by all around her. Well, the punches were pulled after the story had been reworked and the tone was noticeably less cruel. I later owned some original artwork to a Bob Powell drawn story that included many edits for a post-Code reprint.
That’s always made sense to me, as the content of a pre-Code book may not be approved by the CCA. What I really found odd, however, was the fact that ACG reprinted several of its CCA approved covers in the early 60s, making alterations that toned done the subject matter. Take a look at these examples and see what you think:
The transformation from Confessions of the Lovelorn #94 (June, 1958) to My Romantic Adventures #130 (March, 1963) is one of the most interesting I’ve seen. The ‘Accusing Fingers’ style of cover was very popular pre-Code, but was not seen very often in post-Code comics, as it was perhaps a bit too harsh for the CCA. The original cover really focuses on the world “Jilted” and warns women “not to be the kind Men jilt”. What we’ve got here is the sense that the man has ‘cheated’ on the woman. That theme will subtlety be removed from many of these covers. You’ll notice that the modified cover simply accuses the man of being a ‘braggart’ and a ‘liar’.
The cover Confessions of the Lovelorn #92 (April, 1958) was altered quite significantly to create the cover to My Romantic Adventures #131 (April-May, 1963). This is an ‘ugly duckling’ story, but I don’t think that this is the same one reference by Michelle Nolan, as that would have been a pre-Code story. You’ll notice a couple of things about this cover. First, our heartbroken heroine is no longer referred to as an ‘ugly duckling’. Second, our lovers have been taken from the back seat of a car (too lewd?) and placed on a park bench. These tweaks create a fundamental shift in the overall tone of the cover.
The cover to Confessions of the Lovelorn #78 (February, 1957) is really rather shocking, as the woman stumbles upon her fiancée kissing another woman. When the cover was reworked for My Romantic Adventures #127 (Oct-Nov, 1962), the reference to the upcoming nuptials was removed. Suddenly, the bride-to-be is transformed into the ‘Brainless Type’ and seems to be assigning herself some of the blame, stating that ‘he couldn’t love a fool like me'. Perhaps the series should have been re-titled My Self-Esteem Issues.
Confessions of the Lovelorn #87 (November, 1957) is a strange one and I can’t quite put my finger on why it was changed for My Romantic Adventures #138 (March, 1964). The cover blurb in the original states : The Path of True Love Didn’t Run Smooth For Andrea. Learn Why in a Romance that Pack a Punch! 'Professional Man'. Andrea’s beau, states “It’s Just a Dream House Now Sweetheart – but Someday It’ll be Ours”. Seems like a typical American Dream type story, but it was changed so that the blurb reads: An Amazing Romance – Straight From the Heart. 'Anything Can Happen In New York'. Here, our Romeo states "The Girl I've Dreamed of... and our own Honeymoon Cottage". Well, I guess it's now clear that they are married (or at least that the nuptials are pending), but the I really don't understand this switch, unless they felt the phrase 'Professional Man' would be interpreted in a lurid way. Also, the house has been downsized considerably - so maybe they were removing the implication that the woman was a gold digger. The only thing I find 'amazing' is that they got such a large yard in NYC.
Confessions of the Lovelorn #100 (December, 1958) ) is a pretty typical cover, except for the fact that the message is a bit negative. The caption states that our heroine always ran from those Awful Young Men, and she states that she'd always "Been Afraid of Men". Perhaps the editors thought it was a bit of a downer cover, or perhaps they felt that too much could be read between the lines, but they did a complete 180 degree turnaround with the reworked cover for My Romantic Adventures #136 (Dec-Jan, 1963). Here, the caption indicates that the tables are turned and that our fella has "Got To Do Something For Her", and she states, somewhat cryptically, that "It's Always Been This Way With Me". Huh? Is she in love or is she infirm. The latter wouldn't surprise me as we saw a lot of disease and injury centric love stories in the 60s and early 70s.
And that's not all of them, folks. There are plenty more. I’m sorry to say that I’ve not investigated the actual stories in these books to see if they have been altered, or if the covers correspond to completely different stories. The romance genre is vast, and it gets a bit difficult (and pricey) to investigate properly. If you are interested in finding out more about classic romance comics, I encourage you to dig up any Michelle Nolan articles you can find, as well as checking out Sequential Crush.
For more comic book nonsense - stop by my blog, Seduction of the Indifferent