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Dear Heart – Romance Comic Strips

By the time the comic strips showcased below came around there had been romance in comic strips. Eventually love became, if not the main focus, a frequent topic in some strips. When a strip’s title character is thirty-ish and the main supporting character is her younger sister affairs of the heart will enter the plot. It was even set up in the title: “The Heart of Juliet Jones.”


© King Features Syndicate

The story of three single career women sharing quarters at Apartment 3-G is just begging for courtship.

Nearly 100 years ago Wm. Randolph Hearst’s papers featured illustrated love stories regularly as part of his Sunday supplements.


© King Features Syndicate

But we’re going to concentrate on the more recent past.

In 1973 veteran comic strip writer Jim Lawrence partnered with Jorge Franch to go all in.

The title of the comic strip would become The Secret Heart by the time it was distributed to newspapers, but the first-person narrative would remain.


© Tribune Content Agency (?)

The love short stories ran seven days, beginning on Monday with the outcome revealed in the Sunday strip. The last panel in the Sunday strip would be a teaser for the next week’s tear-jerker. The strip, distributed by The Chicago Tribune-N. Y. News Syndicate, would run 15 weeks, for 15 stories, during the Summer of 1973.

 

In 1980 Jim Lawrence kicked off another comic strip about love stories. This would have the bonus of being associated with a well-known, best selling author of bodice-rippers.

These gothic romance novelettes would adapt the style of Barbara Cartland (unsure if they were adaptations) in ten week dramas. After writing the first story Jim Lawrence handed the writing of the series to Charlotte Weaver. The art was by Gray Morrow (and his assistants, Morrow was doing the Buck Rogers comic strip at the same time).


© Barbara Cartland

Barbara Cartland’s Romances, distributed by United Feature Syndicate, would last for over two years – late 1980 to early 1983.

 

Jim Lawrence seemed convinced that the popularity of romance novels in the 1970s could be transferred to comic strips. Between The Secret Heart and Barbara Cartland’s Romances he teamed with Mary Perkins artist Leonard Starr to attempt another romance comic strip.


© Harlequin Enterrprises and the estates of Jim Lawrence & Leonard Starr

This proposal was also based on a popular book series. As far as is known no syndicate picked up Harlequin Romances. Ron Harris has more.

 

While these stories have faded into the past, Love Is… still part of the comics.


© Minikim Holland B.V.

 

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