The PopCult Bookshelf
Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances #1
Written by Paul Kupperberg
Art by Pat and Tim Kennedy, Daerick Gross, Sr., and various
Published by Charlton Neo
The Charlton Neo movement, of which I have been an ardent supporter, is growing by leaps and bounds and their newest entry is Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances. Romance comics in this country pretty much died out in the late seventies and I believe Charlton was the last publisher regularly bringing that genre to the public. Kupperberg, in the true Charlton Comics spirit, has revived the genre that no other publisher (except for Yoe Books’ Weird Love reprint title) would go near.
Kupperberg is a veteran writer whose work I’ve been enjoying since the late 1970’s. He’s written tons of stories for DC Comics over the years featuring characters like The Doom Patrol, The Huntress, Arion Lord of Atlantis, and even Superman and Batman. Lately, he’s gained notoriety as the man who killed Archie in Archie Publications’ Life With Archie magazine.
With Secret Romances, Kupperberg is clearly writing for the joy of writing. This anthology of offbeat and sweet short romance stories is a real treat and a bit of a surprise. The stories are wonderfully written, but they’re so short that a synopsis might give away too much information.
These are not formulaic “boy meets girl” stories, like the romance comics of years gone by. These are clever stories that range from tender to satirical to touching. The anthology format serves them well, saving them from having to fill a set number of pages or crowbar in recurring characters. It should be noted that the book sports a “Mature Readers” warning, more for tone and subject matter than for any explicitness.
Pat and Tim Kennedy pencil the first and last stories in the book and they are remarkable because of the difference in style. “You Have The Right To Remain Silent” is the story of two officers on the beat who have a tense partnership. “Men Like Harry Bertram” is a fun look at hypocrisy.
Other stories in the book include “Waiting For The Man With A Copy of ‘The Catcher In The Rye’,” which is a two page prose piece that is a textbook example of how good a very short story can be. “Cybermatch.com,” with art by P.D. Angel Gabriele, depicts a very awkward computer dating situation and “Forget Me Not,” with art by Daerick Gross, Sr., is a very sweet, yet sad story that may well be the most memorable in the book.
The artwork gets off to a great start with an absolutely gorgeous cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. All of the artists do a great job of telling these stories with a variety of styles and accomplished layouts.
Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances is off to a great start and could very well revive a comic book genre that’s been pretty much dead for thirty-five years. This is one more great example of the type of comic books done for the love of doing comics that is typical of the Charlton Neo movement. Next up is Charlton Wild Frontier, a Western anthology.