Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haunted Love: "Reunion"

Charlton Comics tried to corner the market on color horror/mystery comics back in the Groovy Age. They also pretty much owned the romance genre, as well. What happens when a mad, mad, mad publisher decides to combine two of the company's best-selling genres into one mag? Taking writers, artists, plots, unrequited love, ghosts, and other things that make the heart thump harder, and sewing them together into an unholy patchwork of comicbook cheese leads to this...this...creature they called Haunted Love, and it's coming for you, Groove-ophile! You can't run! You can't hide! It's after you as you run every so helplessly into...

Gothic romances were flying from the books shelves in the early 1970s. The genre had been around forever, and probably always will be, but it was reaching a definite peak. Why? Well, partly because, at that time, anything to do with the supernatural was big business in movies, TV, paperbacks, magazines, and of course, comics. On the other hand, your garden variety romance comics, which had long been a comicbook staple, were dying out. I don't know if the folks at Charlton wanted to try to save the romance genre, or if they were just following the Gothic romance trend when they began publishing Haunted Love in January, 1973. Sadly, the mag didn't last long, running for eleven short issues, the last being published in July, 1975.

Now, at the time, I couldn't admit it, but Young Groove really dug Haunted Love. My mom bought the romance comics in the house (dad dug westerns, my sister was into the Harvey and Archie stuff mostly, and I got everything else!), and when she wasn't looking, and if I was desperate for something new to read (sorry ladies! I was a kid!), I'd dig through her stash to see if there was anything interesting in there. Occasionally, she'd have a Marvel romance mag and there'd be some Romita, Buscema, or Colan art in 'em. But those Haunted Love mags, with their far-out Tom Sutton or (my fave!) Joe Staton covers were what I was really looking for. I think I read 'em all, but one story stuck with me. I don't know why I flipped for it, but I did, so I thought I'd share it with you! The story in question was written by the always excellent Joe Gill and drawn by Groovy Age Charlton Artist Supreme, Joe Staton. Here it is, from Haunted Love #4 (July, 1973)..."Reunion!"

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