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Romance Without Tears Paperback – January 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (January 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156097558X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560975588
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.7 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,373,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the kind of unusual, well-researched book readers have come to expect from Fantagraphics: a collection of romance comics from the 1950s that, rather than appealing to kitsch, offers a kink in the usual formula. These comics empower, rather than infantilize, women. Written by the somewhat mysterious Dana Dutch, a man mostly remembered as middle-aged and Irish, these comics were published by the equally unusual Archer St. John, who gave his talent a wide berth in the heady, fly-by-night days of 1950s publishing. Completing this unusual group is Matt Baker, one of the few African-American artists in comic books at the time, renowned for his voluptuous (but not exploitative) drawings of women. Baker's biography, like Dutch's, is cloudy at best-no one seems to know much about them. This is almost fitting for a couple of mainstream talents at odds with the very genre they excelled in. The normal romance comics of the time castigated strength, taught subservience and generally reinforced the contemporary stereotypes of good girls and bad girls. Dutch's stories always managed to subvert that norm with subtlety and wit. Rather than being dull and helpless protagonists, his women were active, feisty and independent. With bold writing and smooth, graceful artwork, these tales are fun and visually compelling stories-not just relics of the past, but good comics that hold up. The combination of Dutch and Baker might best be compared to the films of Douglas Sirk: rich, gorgeous but subversive takes on a familiar genre.
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About the Author

John Benson is one of the founders of what is known today as comic book fandom, having published one of the very first fanzines about comics in the 1950s, when he was a teenager. He lives in New York with his wife.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Jones on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories are very good which is what the author used to determine his selection of which stories to include in this collection. He does state in the intro that if art were the main criteria to be used for which stories to include then he would have selected all Matt Baker artwork. I personally would have prefered all Baker art as he is arguably the best artist for this genre. Some of the other art is mediocre. The selection of covers are all Baker's and they are excellent. If all art was Baker's I would have rated this book a 5.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Romance comics taken from the 1950s collections are gathered in a revisionist anthology to challenge the icon of the 'tear stained face' of later years. The comics portrayed in Romance Without Tears feature satisfyingly strong girls and women who never suffer shame, heartache or guilt - and who can be as outrageous and forceful as they wish. Of course, there's romance and heartbreak too - and the full color portraits make for an exciting, intriguing title.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Crawford VINE VOICE on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
A fantastic collection, it begins with an introduction that gives us a brief (but informative) history of the romance comic. This book contains the following stories:

Was I Too Young For Love? illustrated by Lily Renee
I Set A Trap For A Wolf illustrated by Matt Baker
They Called Me Boy- Crazy illustrated by Warren King
I'll Not Date In August (story)
Loneliness Made Me a Pickup illustrated by Chuck Miller
Allergic to Love illustrated by Matt Baker
A Stranger Stole My Heart (artist unknown)
We Couldn't Be Kept Apart illustrated by Lily Renee
My Double Life Caught Up With Me (artist unknown)
Penny-Ante Girl illustrated by Hy Rosen
Hotel Weekend (artist unknown)
Love on Trial (story)
I Played Kiss and Run | I Tried to Buy Love With Kisses | Love Is Born | Tourist Cabin Escapade | Thrill Seekers Weekend | Elopement Hid Our Sins| Afraid To Be Married | Masquerade Marriage & a selection of covers, all illustrated by Matt Baker

The vast majority of the stories are in full-color, and in all of them the artwork is STUNNING. It's such a shame so little is known about the artists of some of these great comics, sometimes not even the author is known. There are two short stories as well. These stories were selected because instead of the young woman choosing to be miserable or submissive, she usually learned a lesson and came out stronger, or forming a relationship on her own terms. A wonderful collection for anyone that's curious about classic romance comics, and one that young girls could read and not be sent a weird message.
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0 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jason on September 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
"They make all kinds of mistakes, learn from them, and hardly ever suffer... " . This may thrill adolescent feminists who want "strong girls and women who never suffer shame, heartache or guilt - and who can be as outrageous and forceful as they wish... etc. etc." But actually, this has no bearing on reality and is even less realistic than the `tear-stained' version of comic-book reality.

Human nature does not change merely because it's political correct to do so. Girls and women - then as now - want to read of love and heartbreak, passion and tears... the masculine-feminine, active-passive relationships that were so dominant during this period (and most periods of human existence), and will continue to want them as evidenced by the consistently popular period-romance dramas on film and TV and he increasing number of shows set in the 1950s and early 60s - the pre-feminist `golden age', when talk of `patriarchal oppression' was just a distant parroted cry.

In our post-feminist age we have the kick-boxing, gun-toting, sword-wielding babes of Hollywood and the "I'm as tough as any man" mentality of the juvenile mind... this is the real fiction-fantasy of female empowerment.
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