Yo Adrian

OK, I’ll tell you what happened. I was planning this huge Romance Comics auction to start later this week just in time for the winning bidders to get their books before Valentine’s Day. I had eBay on board to help me with some promotion for the auction and I had close to 100 lots of some sweet books ready to go. Last week I started working on the pile, writing up the descriptions, assessing the grades etc. Things hit a snag when I got to the second book in the box, the second book, Love Diary #37, which you see below immediately captured my heart and I put it over in the “keeping it” pile. No problem I thought, I might find one or two more along the way but that will leave me plenty. About an hour in I realized my “keeping it” pile was bigger than my “running it on auction” pile. I did the smart thing and scrubbed the whole exercise; well not entirely scrubbed, I did find 14 strong lots that I was willing to run and I’ll be putting them in amongst the regular weekly auction that goes up on Thursday. Look for “Happy Valentine’s Day” in the auction title description.

My cover of the week will not be going to auction, apologies to the collecting community. Love Diary #37, from October 1953, has a quite striking cover by the mighty John Buscema, the sparse composition and simple yet striking image leave the interpretation to the viewer. I see that she’s got him against the ropes, has him cornered as a matter of fact, but he’s exactly where he wants to be and we know he’ll treat her right, with kid gloves.

We’re going to stay with Love Diary #37 and we’re going to stay with the mighty John Buscema for our splash page of the week. My Secret Shame is the last story in the book and features an unfortunate scene at a restaurant where our lovely young Janie asks for just one more drink. Major spoiler alert: of course, I had to read the story, Mark dumps her for being an alcoholic but love is a powerful drug and Janie quits drinking and wins back her man, god I love these books! Great work by Buscema here.

Do any of you collect these? The sealed pack comics? I’ve seen them go back into the 1960s and some can be very valuable. Do they go back further than the 1960s? I know some of the Whitman issues of the Disney characters were only sold through these packs. The pack you see below was from 1973 and contained three DC 20 centers, Wonder Woman #207 with that awesome cover, Superman #208 and Wanted #9 squished in the middle. In this case, the middle book is the least desirable so the urge to tear this thing open isn’t as strong. What if the best book was in the middle, the’s no way of knowing what will be popular in the future so I’m sure this is the case with many of these three packs, that would be ten times worse than CGCing the book, imaging having a great and not even being able to look at it let alone leaf through it. I’m sure you’ve all tried to see what the middle book is in one of these, you have to hold the plastic in a way where the two books fall away while the one book is kept up tight, then you have to angle the package a bit and kind of nudge the middle book into view from the other side. I swear all three books lose half a grade every time we do this.

For our ad of the week, I’ll take you back to Love Diary #37; I spent a good 15 minutes going through that book so I might as well get some use out of it. Look at that schlump on the couch, remind you of anyone? Too bad we didn’t send away for the Dollar Book of Etiquette: for a buck we could have found out how to behave in and out of love, how to dispose of bores, pests and similar “characters” (I might use this one on Chris Owen). My favourite is how to “blind” date with “open” eyes and, looking back, the one I deeded the most, how to date without regrets. Note the bottom ad promised to help you write thrilling love letters, these old comics were worth their weight in gold.

Last night’s weekly icecollectibles eBay auction saw a flurry of last-minute bids, the snipers were out in force. Does anyone actually have and use the sniping software for eBay auctions? I’ve never tried any sniping software. One of my favourite Marvel covers was up for auction last night, a high gloss mid-grade copy of Incredible Hulk #104, with that great Rhino cover, sold for $92.51; a steal as far as I’m concerned.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1702


  1. That splash page is far nicer than the cover ! I am glad that romance comics are getting their due- for years you could not give these things away! Comic book romances are lots of fun, but I challenge you to try to read even ONE pulp magazine romance! I can’t do it!! I do not collect romance pulps, but occasionally will snag one [cheap] because it has a nice cover by Modest Stein or some other talented artist.
    I am amused that you do not have all these comics yet & are snagging them for your own collection !! What have you been doing since the 1980’s ??? You could have bought them all for a dollar each back then !! I hope you are paying fair market value for them now!- no wholesale pricing for you !!!

    That Hulk #104 is one of my favourite covers ! I am happy to say that I have a raw NM copy in my collection & actually read it a million years ago! I should put on my white gloves & read it again!

  2. I have been trying to post this comment on the previous page, but keep getting ‘nonce verification’ errors ! Sorry that it is out of place, but I can’t seem to get it to ‘stick’ where it belongs-

    Mel- don’t forget Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin, Robert Mckimson or Friz Freleng! Gah!- the list is endless, so much talent! You can identify the Director of many of these classic cartoons simply by their style- a Tex Avery cartoon is readily identifiable, as is a Jones, a Clampett or a McKimson. Thanks to my studies at Sheridan [ surrounded by classic animation fans!] I learned how to identify the work of certain artists within specific cartoons- I can still pick out scenes from Warner Brothers cartoons that were drawn by Rod Scribner!! [ look for immensely detailed characters with lots of wrinkles!!]. Many artists would work on a single cartoon or feature, but not all got their credit. I would like to say that I can pick out scenes in Popeye cartoons that were drawn by Jack Kirby [ he was an in-betweener for Fleischer for a while in the mid-1930’s] but this is not possible. Many studios, such as Fleischer had a ‘house style’ that masked individual artistic styles- the artists simply had to adhere to the ‘look’ of the cartoon or feature that had been mapped out by the director and his key animators. Warner Bros seemed to allow some artistic freedom & some artist’s styles are quite evident on the scenes that they worked on. Through decades of study by ardent fandom, we now know who drew most of the classic cartoons we are loving so much- but it is still hard for casual fans to identify certain sequences as being drawn by certain artists. For example- we all know that Preston Blair drew the dancing girl in the Droopy cartoons- we know this because we have been told this- but if I were to show you a dozen MGM cartoons, one after the other, that ALL have work by Preston Blair in them without the dancing girl, would you be able to pick out the sequences that he drew from those cartoons??

    This loving study is made possible due to the quality of the work that was produced by extremely talented people, not just artists, on those classic golden age cartoons. A similar study CAN NOT be done on the cookie-cutter rubbish that began to appear back in the 1970’s [late 1960’s ??] & lasted until the digital age. Most of this made for TV crap was made in South Korea in ‘factories’ full of talentless automatons. Most of this TV crap was nothing more than half-hour advertisements for toys or action figures. The digital age put an end to this shite & at least we have better looking cartoons to look at, although many of them are still shilling various toys, action figures or other paraphernalia. Digital cartoons have also been criticized for having a certain ‘sameness’ & no individual talent can shine through. If Rod Scribner was a digital animator, it is unlikely that you would be able to identify his ‘style’ within the finished cartoon. There is something to be said for a hand-drawn cartoon created by a truly gifted artist- truly a lost art nowadays.

  3. Modern cartoons seem to require little more than a talented mouse clicker. Gertie the Dinosaur took Winsor McCay 10,000 individually drawn pages of art. And those are all great cartoonists you mention! But, as much as I admired Bob Clampett’s animation, I loathed Beanie and Cecil!

    Walt, that is some great early Buscema art! A while back I picked up a Bell Features FECA reprint of Man Comics #1 with a very manly man on the cover smacking a little kid! The reprint is from 1950, but the original was from 1947, and I have been told it is Buscema’s earliest cover work, but the subject matter would certainly not pass today. The romance comics had some truly hilarious dialogue and titles. I recall one old Kirby romance comic I found which bore the title on the cover: The love which dare not speak it’s name…back door love! I bought it for next to nothing on a whim, and ended up selling it for quite a bit more to an enthusiastic collector of gay culture. I can’t imagine what the writer was thinking back in 1947! Spend time digging through old romance long enough and you are bound to find something quirky or inappropriate for the times! Our thoughts on love today are far more complex then they were in the ’40s and ’50s!

  4. Sorry, I have to throw this in here after my remark about our “thoughts on love today.” If I’m not mistaken, it’s from Ogden Nash, the man who wrote The Purple Cow.

    The thoughts of the rabbit on sex
    Are certainly far from complex
    For a rabbit in need
    Is a rabbit indeed
    And does just what a person expects!

    He was not very happy that he bacame most well known for The Purple Cow, which goes something like this:

    I’ve never seen a purple cow
    I hope I never see one
    But I can tell you anyhow
    I’ld rather see than be one!

    In his bitter later years he wrote:

    It’s true I wrote The Purple Cow
    I wish I never wrote it
    But I can tell you anyhow
    I’ll kill you if you quote it!

  5. Love Diary has a series of Buscema smooch covers around the issue Walter has shown and they are getting good money at auction. Between Love Diary 31 and 48 (series end) there are 14 smooch or promise of a….. covers. Buscema was in his mid 20s during this era and there are a couple spectacular covers in #31 and #35.
    What would the future hold for this young romance artist?

  6. I don’t have sniping software, I just snipe with 15 seconds left in the auction. It is a adrenaline rush

  7. ComicLink forces that adrenaline rush on you. I would rather not shock my system that way.

    I use Gixen. It bids eBay about five seconds before the end of the auction. I highly recommend it. Developed and maintained with care by one guy. Free, but you can pay a small amount and get the same bid submitted from another location at the same time, to protect against network lag. I think research shows that both the ComicLink and eBay auction closes are worse for both buyer and seller, but at least Gixen a) guarantees that your final bid will go in, b) doesn’t allow you to second guess yourself – set your best bid well before and walk away, don’t get into a bidding war, that is always advantage seller.

  8. Kai’ckul, so true, I’m a huge ball of nerves as I watch the comiclink counter count down below 10 seconds, then that second screen comes on to confirm and i cross my fingers that “error” message that says “bid has to be higher than current bid” does’nt show up. I’d call it more nerveracking than an adreneline rush…

    Meli, I’ve been caught so many times justifying one more bid after being outbid that I can see the value of software like that, nothing good ever happens when you get outbid past your “supposed” limit, you either loose the boo (bad) or you bid too high (bad).

  9. Love Diary is a title head and shoulders above the average romance comics. As is it’s sister title, Love Journal. The first issue of LJ just set some kind of record in a Heritage auction. There were edited by a woman, and used more fine artists including Syd Shores, Harry Anderson, Mort Leav and Mort Lawrence. The same company did The Westerner and Wanted, also outstanding titles for above quality art by these same artists.

    Like most collectors, I poo-pooed romance comics for decades. Then as I got a lot of the other books I wanted, and kept looking around for more interesting stuff to collect…there it was. Cheap prices, many of the same artists who were doing my favorite adventure or super hero books. Fun stuff I’d never seen before. Even some readable stories (Matt Baker’s written by Dan Dutch are best known, but see below, the Harveys are particularly fun.

    Nowadays the prices are not quite so cheap, but still low compared to most other comics. Pre-code and even post-code to 1960 or so DCs are filled with Romita and others. I like the pre-code best, Infantino, Giella, Giacoia. The Atlas romance have been pretty popular for years, thanks to (gasp) Vince Colletta doing some fine work, and Jay Scott Pike (who went on to be come a pin-up artist), and even Joe Maneely sometimes.

    Standard/Nedor boasts work by John Celardo, Nick Cardy, Alex Toth and others. St. John of course has Matt Baker and those damned books are going into the stratosphere now even in low grade. I am so glad I got them most of them when $40 or $50 was considered a high price for them. Now they are ten times that. And Harvey…ignore the post-code, they are mostly reprints, but anything pre-code (1949-55) is often steamy, suggestive, downright daring. Art by Bob Powell, Lee Elias, Nostrand, all very competent. And thanks to the warehouse of these, many are still quite plentiful and cheap.

    Michelle Nolan’s book on Romance comics, Love on the Racks, is still unmatched if you want to learn about all the good and bad in the land of love. No one has done anything else that even close to hers for good information on both stories (good, bad, and goofy) and artists.

    Sorry guys, I know I’ve said some of this before, but I’ve had such fun picking up these oddball books, happy to share it with you. Still on the prowl for the, they were abundant in their day (Michelle calls is the “Love Glut” of 1950-51 when the stands were weighed down with love titles).

  10. Thanks for the mention, Bud! I really think some of you folks would enjoy “Love on the Racks” if you have picked up on the attractions of romance comics!
    The big challenge for me in writing the book (published 2008, now in its fifth printing from McFarland) is that as a gay woman, I had to try to do the best job I could on understanding the stories — especially since I did not begin collecting romance comics until years after I had solved the complexities and problems of an intersex birth (that’s the “I” in LGBTQI). It wasn’t always easy for me to truly comprehend the stories, even though I consider wonderful men like Bud to be my much-loved “brothers.” I even bugged a few men to explain things to me that I had a hard time understanding. I owe many comic collectors a lot for the helping me with the book!
    I also touched on Romance in teen comics in my book “Archie’s Rivals” (2020, McFarland.
    Talking about love, I am learning to love this web site!

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