Dear Comikers, Tashi delek. Well, I have said it before, and countless time before then, but there is no harm in repeating the reality. Me is Back. As usual, I am not going to hold you with my whereabouts all this time, which is rightly pushed to the end of the post.
But, what we have has a topic for our current post? Well it’s about Love, and this time for a change, in Comics.
What was the last big news in Comics, you heard about? Disney shooting for Marvel? Obama as a Comic Hero? Asterix turning 50? or Jean Va Hamme’s XIII reappearing the English space? Well, they would have all taken their fair share of the gossips and tête-à-tête’s, but where they able to add up to the personal touch which one news about the famous youth icon in Comics, managed among masses.
Let’s admit it, did anyone foresee that? Archie has been around since 1940’s, and was known for his romantically run-downs with anyone in the opposite sex. So why does this news turned around all the heads, and made the series which was taken for granted, to enjoy a fresh lease of life.
Well, it’s a sheer concept of touching your inner self, and making your emotions to bind into a series. And what better way than exploring the intimate world of true love to add that essence.
But, Archie isn’t the only comic series to evangelize this theme, even if it could be agreed that he was one of the first in doing so. It is a concept which was used almost by all Comics creators, be it the theme of Love, Superhero, or the more serious Graphic Novel types. It was a way for creators to engage the readers, and get their series into their hearts, and leave a memory in their minds.
Most famous example, could be the most celebrated Superhero of all time, the Superman. Everyone knows that he is the Man of Steel, and one with enormous strength, and abilities. But, he often had a weak point, a more mortal one, in form of Lois Lane, as his lady love.
Superman, aka., Clark Kent, was an alien, and thus a character which may not be dear to the mortals on this planet. Thus creators found that a theme of love towards a human, could add the panache to the storyline, and indeed it did.
The creators behind the series also found it worthwhile to mix-up another Superheroine, in a Love triangle, when Wonder Woman rose to fame. It is still a untold love story, which is intimate, and comes to fore when both meet in any of their adventures (obviously, other than DC’s Elseworlds series). But, Superman was always shown to stay true to Louis Lane (no matter what was in offer elsewhere).
As many of us know, Superman, isn’t the only DC superhero, to have a love angle in his story-arcs. His most famous counterpart Batman, has many to add too. Unlike Superman, who in his alter-ego Clark Kent, leads a normally subdued lifestyle, Batman’s alter-ego was of the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. This gave the creators a freehand in portraying love on the air, so often in the Batman series.
Most notable of them was his romance with the villainesses Catwoman and Talia al Ghul, daughter of the Ra’s al Ghul, one of the greatest enemies of Batman. While Catwoman and Batman romance was uncontrollable at times, Talia was often torn between the love towards Batman, and his father’s rage towards him. Batman certainly had a free ride when choosing his love interest, in all his adventures :).
The Love wasn’t restricted to the DC Universe, it was most famously used in their rival camp Marvel, which produced some of the best comic superheroes of all time, going toe-to-toe with the former. Most notable out of them was the Fantastic Four and Spiderman.
Fantastic Four, was obviously the first superhero family, to have been introduced in the 9th Art. It was also eventually the first superhero title introduced by Marvel, and went a long way in establishing their brand of comic characters, and showing to the world that a Superheroes could have a family, and still can collectively fight the evil-doers.
The love between Mr.Fantastic (Reed Richards) and Invisible Woman (Sue Storm), was foremost in all the titles, right from the time they were introduced. It eventually turned into a successful marriage, which also encompassed Invisible Woman’s younger brother, the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), into the family fold. It didn’t stop there, as the team also brought into the family, their most trusted friend, in the form of the Thing (Ben Grimm).
The love wasn’t only restricted to Reed and Sue in the family. Johnny, is known for his playboy type, while Ben had his fair share of love trials too. Truly a Superhero family united by love from all corners :).
But, when it came to Spiderman it was a totally different ball game altogether. A series which was introduced just an year after “Fantastic Four family” made their debut, took love to a different level. Spiderman, aka Peter Parker, was portrayed as a young adult, who was torn between his past, his present, and doubts over his future, with an unwelcome responsibility added by power, which he never wanted, at the first place.
Enter Mary Jane Watson, to add some spice to his life, and the series was an instant hit. As Peter and Mary went about different phases of life, where their love turned multiple dimensions, to an extent of hate and separation, and finally a wed-lock.
Often Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s love was cited as an example, as their love was something which was more common you could find in day-to-day life. They were mortals and their emotions human.
Let’s steer past the current direction which the series has taken where the so called creators invented a concept of erasing their memories, and leaving them as just two separate individuals. Well the creators have their own reasons, but I am not getting into them. For me, it’s a sheer insult to those who followed the series for this long.
The Love in Comics, was not only restricted to full-fledged comics, as the Comic Daily strips which predates even the creation of this art medium, called Comics, also utilized the Love to the fullest, in their storylines.
While the Phantom was portrayed as a masked crusader, who doesn’t reveal his face to general crowd, the only ones who witnessed him in his humanly avatar, was none other than his favorite charming wife, Diana. There were countless stories which were woven by the pen of Falk, where he put Diana and Phantom’s love in different dimensions, often culiminating in their reunion at the end of the story.
As far as it goes, one of the daily strips which was titled The Wedding of the Phantom (Daily Strip #136), even described in detail the wedding ceremony of Phantom and Diana, in the Deep woods, attended by the famous celebrities, including an unnamed Mandrake. Have a preview of that extravaganza over here.
If that was Phantom, Mandrake had a love interest of his own (and even his best companion, Lothar), in the form of the lovely princess, Narda.
Clearly, Love in Comics had no barrier, either in full blown comics or in newspaper strips.
[Phantom and Mandrake feature inset to this post, was added, as per the request from Comikers through comments]
Coming back to our love concept, it wasn’t only the American Genre, which utilized this to the fullest level. Examples can be found on their other counter-parts in British, Franco-Belgian, Italian, Indian and to a large extent, even in Manga.
In British Genre, unlike their American counterparts, the authors used Love as a subtle reference in their storyline. They made it into a whole new concept, where people could be together bound by a common link, but may not turn into the typical hand-in-hand lovers type. It was left to the readers to diffuse them and consider their relationship, in ways they want.
A best example could be the acclaimed Modesty Blaise series, where the relationship between Willy Garvin and Blaise is often touches a thin line which differentiates, love and friendship. Peter O’ Donnell the writer, took utmost care that he never compromised that concept in any of his works.
And it is still considered one of the best ways of portraying a man and woman relationship in Comics, without going over the line, as treaded by other comic series.
While, James Bond, an another popular series from British Genre, cannot be played in the same yard-stick, it is pretty clear that all his adventures are filled with romance and love with the women who shares the screen space with him, which went over to a level to be them termed as the Bond Girls.
Well, let’s not damage our love concept by discussing Bond’s romantical adventures. Since we are here to talk about true love, and not puppy love :).
Another Blaise-like love link could be found, in not so famous, British comic series of yester-years which featured Johny Nero and his favourite secretary Stella. Stella accompanies Johny, often in many of his adventures, without him being interested about her involvements. But, it was evident that Stella had a soft corner over the leading man of the series, and it was also reciprocated by Johny, without being too open about it.
But, again it was left to be contemplated in the minds of readers, with the writer never revealing their true nature of relationship. Such was the subtle love adopted in British Genre, on more classical notes.
A look at Franco-Belgian Genre, gives us a plenty of examples of true love. But, unlike their most illustrious counter-parts, France which is known as a Lovers paradise, used the concept of love only in one-off cases or during some rare titles, in a long running series.
Take the most famous comic series from that stable, in the form of Asterix and Obelix. Even when, they don’t have a concrete love interest through the series, often finding solace among themselves with their friendship, Obelix had on and off untold love towards Panacea, which was instrumental in devising few of the remarkable titles of the series, which has continued to charm the readers for over 50 years.
Or take the case of Lucky Luke. An often lone ranger wandering around the deserted counties, with his trusted ally Jolly Jumper (with all due respects to the talents of Jumper, which incidentally is a Horse), was also involved in some romantical run-downs, most famously portrayed in the Lucky Luke’s Fiancee title.
Even the most unlikeliest of heroes, comics has ever seen, Blueberry, also had a love life of his own. Arizona Love, is a title, in which Blueberry disowns whatever he has strived for all his life, to secure the love of his life.
One of the recent examples of a Franco-Belgian product, which is making its rounds in Indian comics space, (thanks to CineBook), on the love lines, is Largo Winch. Another masterpiece from Van Hamme, where Winch is a Playboy millionaire, who plays the game at the highest level to stay competitive among the corporate politics. Winch has romantical run-downs with anyone who crosses his lifestyle, much like the Bond way. :)
But, where Franco-Belgian comic series, scores heavily on the love part, is with Thorgal series. It goes over with tagline saying that ‘God has put a man to Test’.
But, through this testing times, who gives him support is none other than his love of life, Aaricia. Thorgal is often shown as thinking of a more calm life, with his wife and son in a secluded place.
Tex Willer’s whole storyline or the status he enjoys among Navajos, his adopted tribe, is based on his marriage to his Red Indian wife. There was even one mini series, in which Tex goes over on a revenge path, to punish the miscreants who caused her death.
Or take the example, of Martin Mystere, a comic series which has now been made famous by the TV animation series.
Martin is often accompanied in his adventures, by not only the muscular Neanderthal man - Java, but also by his long-time fiancée, and his later wife, the beautiful, Diana Lombard. Whether Martin stayed true to his wife, all the times, is a big question, but there is no doubt she adds up the woman factor in all of adventures. Beauty and Beast seem to co-exist in there. :)
It was essential, or often the most needed interlude, to otherwise serious plot-work which was witnessed in all of the above series.
When we talk about love, can we miss the Indian subcontinent, which is known to have gifted the world Kamasutra, the eternal love reference guide :). When we come to the Desi reference, to the Indian Genre can you forget the love intrigued in many of our famous myths, and legends.
The love of Sita and Rama, or the love of Draupadi, could they have been drafted any different in the umpteen number of comics which were influenced by them.
Well, it all foretells that Love in Comics, are here to stay. And its a true essence around which the plots are interwoven, if not every time, at least on special occasions, when the writers decide to touch that personal cord with the readers.
So, it was no different with Archie turning his relationship into a long standing commitment. At least, that’s how it has been portrayed, which we will get to see for real, only at the end of the mini series, which has kick started the story arc.
Surprisingly, the story got so much attention, that for the very first time I see Archie Comics being sold directly in Indian stores. Obviously, the titles released are of this mini series, and are priced at around INR 35. A bit costly, but the series marketing was no cheap task.
Well, I have started collecting them, and it’s your call whether you get one for yourself. I obviously, don’t want to miss out on a path-breaking series, even if it was invented for the sake of marketing a product :)
Well, now to our personal blah… blah…. My recent long absence, and why I took this topic to make my comeback are interlinked. Yes, I am no more single. I have lost my bachelor degree, as I got tied to my lady love (not the adventurous type as portrayed by our comic heroes, as it was strictly an Arranged Marriage) on September 27, 2009, in my hometown Chennai, India.
It was a fun-filled event, a connection of two hearts into one, where I also got to meet some of our comics friends, who took a time out of their precious commitments, to grace the occasion.
Even, some of our Comics bloggers and cherished friends, like Kanavukalin Kathalan, Prabhat, Siv, Comic World, and Terry Hooper all decided to take part in my celebrations, by dedicating/crediting a post on my name. Thanks guys, I am overwhelmed by your love.
Not only them, even during the two months time when I went into hibernation, the average user visit to our site, has always remained, steadily the same (as seen through site statistics). I see that people have taken this time out, to explore the archived posts, and get their fill-in. Something, for which I have always strived to keep old posts up-to-date, with the latest happenings on the topic.
And what did I pay them off with, a total absence, a seclusion from the blogging world. Let me admit, I never saw it coming. I never thought that a relationship could take such precious time out of your day-to-day work. A commitment which needs to be showered, with your utmost love. A relationship which needs to be nourished, with time.
Well, I am learning how to be so, and now feel that it could be time when I can get to spend some time on my hobby or passion, while balancing the work and personal life. Surprisingly, my better half shares the feeling, and whole-heartedly let me continue my passion, with a simple advice to watch over the hour clock. It’s a different experience, but something I enjoy at the moment, and believe I can for an eternity.
So here I am again, to bug you with my comics posts, like I have been doing ever. I would try to maintain my regular flow, but excuse me if I default a week or two. But, rest assured, I will always be lurking around, here and our friends blog space. You can’t escape from me :).
This day, 11/11 also marks my birth on this Planet of Love. And I thank everyone of those, who wished me personally, and through emails and SMS’s. It’s good to have a feeling that there are people who love your existence. Thanks a lot guys.
As an end note to this post, I will leave you all, with the famous quote uttered by Arthur Rubinstein: -
“Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back.”
Let the Party Begin !! :)