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Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics Paperback – May 10, 2011


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Paperback, May 10, 2011
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Frequently Bought Together

Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics + Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics + Showcase Presents: Young Love Vol. 1 (Showcase Presents (Unnumbered Paperback))
Price for all three: $59.95

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design; Original edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061807346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061807343
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 8.7 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Agonizing Love is a rich anthology of those legendary romance comic books that once filled newsstands to overflowing during their heyday in the 1940s and '50s. "I Craved His Kisses," "With Hate in My Heart," "Kisses Came Second," "Flame of Jealousy," "Was I a Wicked Wife?": these stories are just a taste of the absolutely riveting dramas that play out in the sob-racked pages of this evocative collection. Agonizing Love—is there any other kind?—runs the narrative gamut from honeymoon to heartbreak, first love to total loss, marital bliss to marriage hell, and all the stops in between. Throughout these colorful pages you will find a diverse selection of cover art and stories enhanced by a plethora of engaging quizzes ("Are You Ready for Marriage?"), confessional letters from readers, informative articles, tips on choosing the right man (or getting rid of the wrong one!), and oh, so much more!

Compiled and with witty, informative com-mentary by pop-culture expert Michael Barson, Agonizing Love is an irresistible treasure trove sure to please comic-book lovers, soap-opera fans, and die-hard romantics who could use a good slap in the face. This is a heartfelt, often tear-drenched valentine to a long lost—but never to be forgotten—era.

About the Author

Michael Barson is the author of more than a dozen books that celebrate popular culture. His work has appeared in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, Premiere, American Film, and AMC magazine, among other publications. His books and postcard anthologies include Lost, Lonely & Vicious, Born to Be Bad, Teenage Confidential, True West, and Red Scared! He lives in suburban New Jersey with his wife of twenty-six years who hasn't stopped weeping since tying the knot. They have three boys, none of whom has a clue about love or romance—yet.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andromeda on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By today's comic reproduction and editing standards this volume just doesn't hold up, it looks like something reproduced in the 90's. The publisher used digital scans, but printed them on glossy paper - nothing looks odder than old comics, meant to be viewed on newsprint, printed on glossy paper, which also makes the color bleed and the linework look less sharp. The scans aren't particularly good, either. Another annoying thing is the art direction - each page of comics is laid within a thick border. The border is a benday dot pattern in white on vibrant primary and secondary colors - which is extremely distracting.

The editor made NO effort to identify the creators of these stories - this sends comics reprint publishing back decades (with the exception of Archie, which has only recently made the smallest effort to credit creators). There are many comic art experts who are able to identify artists, and in the recent explosion of high quality comic reprints, artists are finally getting the credit they deserve. Unfortunately, experts in analyzing writing have yet to emerge, but hopefully, some day...

This volume just can't compare to the work that's going on in the field of comic art reproduction, where scans are high quality, on matte paper, with creators credited, and introductions giving short creator bios and analysis of their work, which set the material in an historical context. (Notable exceptions are DC's Simon & Kirby scans, the whole of Hermes Publishing, and the "Big 3's" continuing use of Simonizing)

This book is a joke next to:
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Agonizing Love: The Golden Era Of Romance Comics"
Written and edited by Michael Barson
Various Artists
(Harper Collins, 2011)

I enjoyed this book a lot but it took me a while to pick it up because the other Amazon reviews were so vague about the book and its contents. I had assumed it was more of a pop-culture history book, but it's mostly a compilation of reprints of howlingly funny early 1950's romance comics, from when the genre had just taken off. The book itself is larger than I'd expected, slightly taller than a standard American newsstand magazine, though it's not too thick or too heavy and comes as a fairly elegant paperback edition, with lots of bright colors and a modest amount of introductory text from the editor.

Obviously, Michael Barson loves this stuff, and revels in the over-the-top, now-unbelievable cosmic levels of sexism inherent in the genre, and I enjoyed the tone of his commentaries. Some folks have faulted the book for poor layout, mostly because the artwork is presented as facsimiles of the original blurry, yellow-paged newsprint comic books. A lot of modern readers prefer reprints like the Marvel Masterworks and DC Archive series (which I enjoy as well) and expect that going forward all comic book reprints should have the same level of digital enhancement and color correction. However, I think that for a project like this, particularly with such resoundingly cheesy genre comics, that having something that approximates the old newsprint editions is entirely appropriate -- it underscores the antiquity of this particular genre and constantly reminds us that this is Stuff From Another Era.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wayne M. Malin on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Large size book with reprints of comic book stories from the 1950s dealing with love and romance. The stories themselves are hilarious! They're so dated it's impossible to take them seriously. The stories make it clear that all a woman needs is a man and her life will be perfect! There's also very sexist little strips telling a woman how to please her man. Silly and fun. This looses one star because the reprints themselves are in poor shape. The color is VERY faded and they were obviously just copied from the comic itself. I can understand why they didn't make the art and color look better but it gets a little annoying at times. Still this is well worth getting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike Fitz on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book more as a curiousity than because I had any great interest in
"romance' comics. What a treat!
If you were alive in the haydays when these comics were originally published, then you'll surely remember the silly titles and overly-dramatic captions and expressions staring back at you from the ten cent racks.
Whether or not, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
The subject is handled with humor and a fine eye for absurdity.
Lots of great features and art to satisfy the comics fan.
I highly recommend this book to anyone old enough to "get" the media concept of romance.
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