Friday, October 29, 2010

British Girls' Romance Comics: Valentine 21st December 1963

The British weekly girls' comic, Valentine, published by Fleetway from January 19th, 1957 to November 9th, 1974, appears to have been something of a forerunner to the subsequently highly successful Jackie. The first story in this December 21, 1963 issue of Valentine kicks off on the front page of the comic, and like the rest inside, is short and based on a song title. There's a few interesting components to this story - a hint of Islamophobia, and the girl also escapes a potential life of domestic abuse (her boyfriend Brian exhibits some of the signs - he's certainly controlling, unwarrantedly jealous, and blaming) for a future with a nice guy (a copper!).

While most of the stories are self-contained, this next one is an installment in an on-going serial. All I can say about this one is, Tom, with a love like that, you know you should be glad! But I've got a feeling you're going to lose that girl!

The whole comic is very pop icon focused:

From what I've seen of the digest-size British romance comics, the art in some of these Valentine stories, like "For You, For Me", seems to be drawn by some of the same artists. But the moodier panels in this story are even reminscent of Gene Colan's romance work for DC. It's interesting to note the universal romance story device of having the girl going over her situation while lying awake in bed. Some very nice art in this story about the importance of compatibility in a relationship.

Some of the familiar romance comic elements here - horoscopes, an ad for a remedy for pimples, and a jewelry ad. There's also promotion of some of Fleetway's digest-size romance titles for older readers.

Again another romance comic standard - the fashion feature. This time it's in the form of a sequential strip, however. I like the text at the end where the prices and sources of the clothes and other fashion items illustrated in the story are provided.

The centerfold of these Valentine comics is a poster of one of the heart throb musicians of the time. Here it's Billy J. Kramer of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, a performer from Liverpool also managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and who achieved stardom singing Lennon/McCartney compositions.

This next 2-pager is also a serial feature, and has an unusual format. Lot's of suspect goings on!

The letters page and more ads:

The art in "What About Me?" is reminiscent of Italian or Spanish artists' work, and sure enough, it's signed Julio Vivas Garcia:

More pop stuff:

Next is a moral tale, "Dear Stevie", that seems to be a regular feature. Like some golden age American romance comics, it turns the problem page into a sequential art story.

This last three page story finishes on the back cover, and, while a little inconsistent in quality, contains some very nice panels, like the one in which Jean says, "I do know I love him but how can I marry someone who cares so little for the future?", while sitting in a fortune teller's tent:

All this for just a tanner! And that about wraps it up. I think it's time for me to scarper!


  1. Hi there. I am doing research for a project on my family. My mother grew up in Jamaica, West Indies, and she mentioned that she used to read British romance comics when she was 13-17 ('59-'63 ish). Have you any idea what may have been most popular internationally at that time?


  2. Anonymous: I know very little about this topic except that the small, digest-size romance comics seem to have been published in Commonwealth countries outside of the UK. This is the type of comic I'm talking about:

    This kind of comic can be found in small quantities on eBay UK and eBay Australia. That's my best bet.

  3. Hello there,

    I run a wiki about British comics ( and I'm currently typing up a short article on Valentine. Would it be alright if I used some images from your blog?


  4. Sure Neil. Go ahead and use the images. If there's a way you can give my blog a plug in return I'd appreciate it!

  5. Thanks, I've uploaded and added a link to this post on the actual file page:

    Is that okay?

  6. Is the Cliff Richard comic illustrated by a pre-Vampirella Jose Gonzalez?

  7. I would say that there are Spanish artists working on this comic, judging from the style, but exactly who the artist was on this particular feature - that would be a question for David Roach. It would take someone with his level of skill in identifying Spanish artists from their work to figure this one out.

  8. Hey Redheaded Golem - according to the Lambiek Comiclopedia, that Cliff Richard story is by Gonzalez:

    I can see the trademark heavy eyelashes and facial features, the full-bodied hair, but without the wisps across the face or the eye shadow that is characteristic of his well-known work. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  9. I recognized José González in "For me For you" and Carles Prunés in "I wonder". Both excellent, the best by far after Jorge Longarón, of course...