Valentine’s Day is yet again upon us and as lovers prepare the exchange of gifts and make appointments to spend time together, I want to spend some time looking at a long neglected genre of comics: the Romance genre.
You’ll see copies of Romance comics up for sale on eBay or occasionally in milk crates at garage sales or sometimes for sale at thrift shops.
Although the heyday of the Romance comics is long past, for collectors looking for valuable overlooked titles and rare comics there are a few Romance comics out there that are historically notable and even valuable.
The subject of the Romance genre can be defined as follows:
Romance comics are comic stories that deal with strong emotional relationships, usually between the sexes, and their attendant problems. The average Romance comic tends to focus on: unrequited love, jealously and where a relationship is present, the threat or reality of divorce and the dissolution of love, along with all manner of heartache and problems surrounding dating and courting, etc.
The heyday of the Romance comic genre was probably the early 1950s but publication of exclusively romance themed stories actually begins even earlier To my knowledge the first full and proper Romance comic goes back to the late 1940s, when Prize Publications published:
With a cover by the King Jack Kirby and a story by Kirby and Joe Simon, you’d be forgiven for thinking these are the credits to an Atlas Captain America comic. However, you would be wrong. With the end of the War, war as even super-hero comics suffered a decline in sales, the time was therefore ripe for other genres to find their way into the spotlight. That happens here with this Romance themed comic. With only 13 on the CGC census, if you find a copy of this book, you should grab it. In 2009 a lowly 1.0 sold for $71.00 on ComicLink in a March 19th auction. Since then the prices have remained steady with higher grades fetching everywhere from $567.63 (Heritage Auction of an 8.0 on February 23, 2013) to $573.60 (Heritage Auction of a 7.5 on Feb. 25, 2017).
Atlas Comics gives us this Romantic feast, but this time with Stan Lee providing the story in the Silver Age as we find Lee teaming up with Jack Kirby for an early non-Super-hero affair. Love Romances #97 in certified 6.5 grade sold for $317.00 on April 18, 2016 in an eBay auction. More recently, this comic sold in certified 5.0 grade in December of 2018 for $112.50. With all of 5 copies on the CGC census, some Lee-Kirby enthusiasts will probably pay some big money for this early pre-Super-hero team up.
She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah. This DC comic might look like it belongs on a ‘Comics that Rock’ blogpost list, but it’s set squarely in the Silver Age Romance genre. What happens when a girl in love with the Beatles gets a date with a real boy? She ditches the Beatles. What’s strange is why the Gene Colan & John Romita art for this issue makes the Beatles look so weird. They get Paul more or less right, on the cover, but John (or Ringo???) looks like Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones. In any case, again a rare comic with few copies on the CGC census (so few that in this case it’s a Census data pending book), sells continuously for high prices when it emerges. So far, that’s happened twice; on June 2013 when it sold in 7.0 certified grade for $217.00 and in April of 2016, when, in 4.5, it sold for $245.00.
By the Bronze Age, the Romance comic was still around but on its last legs. That makes this DC Super-special all the more rare and valuable. The cover to this comic boasts that, at 100 pages, it is “the biggest love mag ever”, but I doubt for readers uninterested in the Romance genre that adding so much content was a strong selling point. It was probably an original small print run (only 69 listed on the CGC census), in tandem with the difficulty in keeping the square bound Giant-Size comics in good condition, which make high-grade copies of this book so expensive. How expensive? I’m glad you asked, on 10/23/2018 an 8.0 sold for $761.00 at a ComicLink auction. In higher grades, this book has also broken the $1000.00 mark on several occasions. A 9.4 sold for $1,575.00 on a Comic Connect auction from June of 2015, and before that, the same grade sold for $1,865.00 on June 5, 2014. Prices seem to be trending down, but who knows if future interest in the Romance genre won’t turn around. Till then: Happy Valentine’s Day!