Weird Love is a reprint of old romance stories that Yoe Comics and IDW Publishing have gathered together, cleaned up slightly and presented to a new audience. It’s not so much saying “these are timeless stories” as it is preserving a time in comic history in which there was a market for romance stories. It’s a strange bubble of comic history because the genre made money like a lot of genres back in the early days of comics. There are quite a few stories including some single page tales that were particularly entertaining. I usually find that reading old comics is difficult for me as they fail to hold my attention and their narratives are too transparent. This issue managed to hold my attention though. Perhaps it was my curiosity for this faded genre that kept me going through the issue, but it was interesting to read. This is going to sound strange, but I would love for a feminist studies class to dissect these stories because the way the women are perceived was the most interesting aspect for me.
In the first tale the story follows a woman looking for work when a random grungy looking dude begins talking to her and saying some un-American things. She gets kicked out of the employment line with the man and his friend, but then the friend of the dude goes back in with her and explains that she wasn’t with them. Why he couldn’t have said something when they were getting kicked out is beyond me, but he gets a date out of it. Eventually she finds out that he’s a part of a communist organization and she joins to be with him. Love! She tolerates it for as long as she can before calling them all traitors. I’m not going to spoil the twist, but it has a happy ending.
That’s kind of the theme to all of the stories, a happy ending. They are romance stories so it was to be expected, but some of the turns to get there were sharp. In one tale the woman thinks she’s crazy, I never really picked up on why other than the fact that her mother said she was and her father was actually crazy… from dealing with her mom (not kidding). In the end she’s checked out by the man she pushed away in order to prevent him from dealing with her crazy ass and discovers she’s sane.
The most disturbing story I read involved a woman changing her brute of a suitor’s behaviors. She declines their first date after he shows up wearing a flannel. The next attempt he arrives wearing a suit. It continues like this with her basically showing that he needs her more than she needs him. It was empowering and kind of shocking compared to the other tales in which the woman was ga-ga for the guy and showed zero signs of intelligence. Then in the last four panels the story completely changed. She pushes him too far intentionally and he asks their guests to leave. He then spanks her and the narration reads:
I should point out that they’ve dated, become engaged, had a honeymoon and are now sharing a life together. She basically expects that you can’t change a man and is somehow appreciative of the spanking and kisses him gratefully afterwards. It blew my fucking mind!! There is so much wrong with the entire story and in particular those last four panels. She went from being treated kindly and actually giving the guy manners that he clearly was never taught like “don’t fucking check out other women on your honeymoon” to putting her “in her place.” I really could go on and on, but I think you get the point on how social ass-backwards this is and potentially damaging to the women’s rights.
There was another particular disturbing story that was more of a guide for woman to make sure they checked their backside. The logic being that people will judge you by the way the back of your hair looks and more importantly (according the comic) your butt area. It was a strange read for sure.
By no means am I knocking this reprint, it is a reprint after all and all of these stories are a good sixty years old. If anything I’m glad it’s being reprinted so that people can see how ridiculous the stories are and that as far as we’ve come, we’re still not there yet. I would love to say that all of the stereotypes and utter ridiculousness of these stories never come up in comics, but I can’t. If anything they’re not as obvious which is more frightening.
Again it’s interesting. I would love to see a real crack at the romance genre attempted again since the last time was Mark Millar’s Trouble and that just made Peter Parker’s family a bunch of swingers. As for this reprint, I was intrigued by it more than anything. I don’t know if I would pick up other issues, but this one was entertaining-ish.
Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Yoe Comics/IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/14/14