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31 Days of Comics – A Great Love Story

Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!

We continue with Day 5, which is A Great Love Story.

Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!

In his recent masterpiece, The Love Bunglers, Jaime Hernandez paid off on a romance thirty years in the making. Years ago, Hernadez’s famous creation, Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarrillo, almost had a relationship with a young man named Ray. Now, thirty years on, they have a second chance at love. If, course, they don’t bungle it.

We know Maggie so well after following her misadventures for decades, so while we know her best qualities we also know her worst qualities and both of them are at play when she gets involved with Ray again, with them both now middle-aged. Hernandez’s skills are readily apparent in the control he maintains over their interactions, both with the dialogue and also his incredible skills with characterization. It’s stunning, really, to see how good he was with these characters thirty years ago and yet he is even BETTER now!

Check out this date. Try not to be affected by these interactions…

Damn it, you crazy kids, DON’T BUNGLE THIS!!!

Hernandez uses flashbacks to gives depth to the modern day interactions, as we the reader know exactly how the past is affecting the present but no one else in the present knows what we do. It is pretty heartbreaking and powerful stuff. But, like all stories involving Maggie, the power of love is always present.

I’ve seen the ending criticized as being too schmaltzy, and while there’s certainly something to be said for that, I still loved it. And hey, it IS a love story, right?

38 Comments

The one that stands out the most to me is the Bruce Timm one with the two sociopaths. Though for all the wrong reasons.

I like you choice, Brian. I haven’t read it but what you’ve excerpted makes me want to.

For my choice I went with volume 2 of Jen Van Meter’s Hopeless Savages, the volume entitled Ground Zero (illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley). It’s highschool romance, yeah. But it’s true and lovely and delightful.

Several characters within the story remark on how OF COURSE IT’S ABOUT A BOY and how cliche and obvious that all is. Van Meter basically says “Screw that noise. I’m writing this thing about a boy and it’s going to be awesome and it will make you wish you had your own story about a boy, so shut up forever.” And she does—she does write an awesome story about a boy, about a girl, and about finding out that you’re in love and that love can be this awesome, dangerous, rewarding beast of an abstract thing. Ground Zero makes me fall in love with love.
_____

Really though, i could have pretty easily chosen Seike’s 5 Centimeters Per Second adaptation, which holds a fantastic love story. Especially because it’s not all hearts and flowers. It’s got a bit of a maturity about it that wins me over pretty well.

I also considered taking the unexpected route. For a little I thought about going with J. Torres and Doc Shaner’s lovely short, “In Other Words…” It was the first (and better) half of Four Star Studios digital release, Romance Double Feature (available in the iTunes store or as downloadable PDF for 99 cents). The story was witty and brisk. Only thing: I wanted more.

Also along the perhaps unexpected route, there are two Love Stories in the Image collection Four Letter Worlds that I love. The first, “Spin,” is quiet and montages the birth and demise of a romance. The other, “Anew,” is talky and zippy and neat. It’s by Chynna Clugston and is just super.

What else did I consider? Cross Game holds a great love story but it’s really so much more. Scott Pilgrim might have been a solid choice. The Amir/Karluk aspect of Bride’s Story. Habibi would have made an awkward choice, but I do maintain that it’s a book about Love. There were others haunting the perimiter, Sailor Twain, Negima, Building Stories, Nao of Brown.

I’d go for the other Hernandez. Gilbert’s early collection, The Reticent Heart, contains several great love stories. In particular, I like those which focus on Heraclio and Carmen. Theirs is the relationship that shouldn’t work, but does, except for when it doesn’t.

What drives all these stories home is Beto’s ability to draw broken hearts in peoples’ faces. Looking at his drawings is like hearing one of those singers who can make you cry. Sugar n Spikes, Ecce Homo, Space Case, The Reticent Heart, Love Bites, and For the Love of Carmen are all winners.

Runner Up: Dirty Laundry by the Crumb Family.

Dislike or loathe Jeph Loeb’s current writing as much as humanly possible (and Odin knows I do), one of his greatest works, probably his last to this date, was Spider-Man: Blue. It has several plot holes and dumb storytelling*, but the love story aspect is the main course and it is so gorgeous. It’s the best in Loeb’s and Tim Sale’s Marvel color series, and an evidence to why Loeb/Sale made such a perfect creative team.

* Spidey leaving mid-fight with the Rhino while police officers try to hold back this monstrosity for 20-30 minutes, as the superhero swings away to a lab to work on a new web fluid that will help him to defeat the Rhino.

Not traditionally a love story, but Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run is my go-to book. There’s just a real genuine warmth between Buddy and his Wife – which makes later parts of the run particularly effective.

I always liked Maggie and Hopey together, as well as Francine and Katchoo (um…yeah, they’re girl-girl pairings. Um…I’m not a pervert. Really. Ah, hell, I don’t even believe that.)

Oh, there’s probably an obvious one I’m just not thinking about right now, and it’ll hit me over the head later. Grr.

My pick is Kyoko and Godai from Maison Ikkoku, this is such a great series and Rumiko Takahashi’s best work.

“The Nearness of You” from Astro City, perhaps.

Cerebus and Joanne from ‘Guys’.

Incredibly funny and more than a little insightful in regards to what is actually happening during a blossoming romance. Sure it ends bad, but that’s usually what happens, anyhow.

Excellent choice.

As a huge L&R fan, reading this book and its outcome still makes me weep. Jaime can draw so much emotion in his jestures and in the history of his characters.

Thank you

Yeah, XBen got it. Since I used that one for my favorite single issue as well, I’ll also throw in “I Heart Marvel: Web of Romance,” which is one of my favorite Peter/MJ stories.

Chromedome and Rewind in Transformers:MTMTE.

I’m totally not even joking even a little bit.

Maybe not the most obvious pick, because I don’t think “love story” is the first thing that pops into people’s heads when they think of this book, but I’m going with Preacher. I feel like Jesse and Tulip’s love story is one of the most enduring elements of the book that really stays with you, especially the way it’s concluded in the final issues as they get on the horse together and ride off into the sunset. There are a hell of a lot of comics out there that star characters who are in love, but rarely do I totally believe that two characters can’t live without each other. With Jesse and Tulip, I absolutely did.

The immediate pick to spring to mind is Daredevil #192 “Promises”…one of the best Ben Urich stories ever. I just rediscovered it recently, I believe Alan Burnett was the writer.

It’s a quiet, low-key story, but the bond between Ben and his wife is palpable, and the story is very touching.

Blankets, even though the love affair ended up the way it did. Craig Thompson’s cartooning is incredible, and it trasported me back to my teenage years (minus the abuses the lead character suffered).

Willie Everstop

January 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Cutter and Leetah in Elfquest. A caring princess and an uncouth animal, it reminds me of my marriage.

“Love story” is actually probably the first thing that comes into my head when I think of Preacher. It’s my pick too.

True Story Swear to God.

I like that it’s both a fairy-tale romance and true story.

Doom Patrol 34. Soul of a New Machine. Tender and tragic.

Man that first arc of True Story Swear to God was great.

I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason. Not trolling btw, I just really like Jason comics.

Also, a bit surprised no one’s mentioned Asterios Polyp.

[…] all schmaltz is bad schmaltz. Read an article on “The Love Bunglers” this morning over breakfast and then went to re-read it instead […]

Maison Ikkoku is a great choice as is Blankets.

I’ll go with Scott Pilgrim.

Is it weird that I think Sex Criminals is the best love story I’ve read in a while? Because I do think that, and I’m okay with being weird.

Its hard to boil it down to a single sotryline, but my pick would be the ongoing love story between Nikolai Dante and Jena Makarov that begins, pretty much, in episode 1, and sustains itself for the whole 11-book (in terms of trade collections) series. But I echo the calls for that Doom Patrol story, and True Story Swear to God.

I’m pretty ignorant about most non-super hero comics, but how about Saga ? I’ve only read the first six issues (the next six are waiting for me) but it’s a well told and convincing love story, among other cool things.

Spider-Man: Blue was quite enjoyable for the love story. That was the story that really helped me understand the love Peter had for Gwen. I’ve only known Spider-Man comics where he was with MJ and I never understood Gwen as a character until I read that. So, I guess Spider-Man: Blue gets my vote as well.

I have to go with Scott Pilgrim. If you want pick a specific volume, I would choose volume 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. The way the story plays out really encapsulates the twenty something love story.

I know not everyone loves his post resurrection handling, but I think The Thanos Quest is a great, mainstream comic, loves story. Tragic, but aren’t the all the best ones?

Spider-Man: Blue is superior, but Hulk: Gray was a good one too. And the graphic novel Spider-Man: Parallel Lives was truly a love story in comic character format.

Doom Patrol #34 where the Brain and Monsieur Mallah declare their love for one another.

I second the SAGA suggestion, definite love story there.

My pick is Tom Strong #4, by Alan Moore & Chris Sprouse.

What a wife won’t do to protect her husband…

In this issue Tom Strong gets kidnapped by the Nazi superwoman Heidi Weiss, to use as a STUD in order to impregnate her and create a future generation of Nazi superbabies.

Tom’s family come to rescue him from Weiss’ evil clutches. While the rest of the group free’s Tom and battles the Nazi henchwomen, (Tom’s wife) Dhalua battles Weiss one-on-one in savage hand-to-hand combat. And boy is she pissed…

As Dhalua stands over the defeated Weiss, she strongly implies, in a dead serious fashion to Weiss, that if she ever tries something like this again to her husband, she won’t survive to try a third time. The look of fear on Weiss’ face says she knows its no idle threat…

Chris Sprouse’s art on this title was phenomenal and no less in this issue. The cold look he draws on Dhalua’s face as she gives the warning to Weiss even sent chills up my spine.

Cass’ answer of I Killed Adolf Hitler is a great choice.

Someone mentioned Cross Game, but while I like that series, it really is just an echo of that creator’s earlier 200 chapter epic Touch. Sadly Touch is only available as scanlations, but hopefully that will change since they released Cross Game.

For those who don’t know, Touch is a lot like Cross Game: it is about baseball and love and tragedy (in fact, as much as I like Cross Game, the tragedy early in the series feels like a dull echo of a similar event in Touch). What I love is that while in other Japanese romantic comedies, characters are either getting angry at each other or getting overly melodramatic, creator Mitsuru Adachi (as he does in all of his series) has characters who keep their emotions much closer to their chest. While this can cause classic rom-com trouble, there’s also a sense there are unspoken emotional connections between the character. Similarly, a lot of the punch lines aren’t the usually overreactions that are often seen in manga (I love One Piece but that and many similar series are big offenders in this regard) but rather NON-reactions to what they’ve just seen or even the wacky thing they’ve just done. Still, it is a powerful, fun, surprisingly understated rom-com.

BTW, without giving too much away, this series handles a tragedy in a way that is absolutely pitch perfect for a comic that happens mid-way through the series. It’s one of those things that shows you that sometimes the best way to make the audience burst into tears is by having none of the characters do,

Here’s the original opening to the anime that was also really good. Damn, I’m tearing up again just thinking about it. SERIOUSLY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOdGXe8F1H8

Scott Pilgrim and Zot! would be my choices.

Thom Zahler’s Love and Capes.

And a bit surprisingly, Marty Pasko’s Superman #333 — mainly because of the ending.

Morrison and Case Doom Patrol, specifically Robotman and Crazy Jane. There’s rarely if ever been a more convincing, moving, and utterly human relationship in the super-book than that between Jane and Cliff. In the sea of wackiness and non-sequiturs, they are the beating heart that grounds the book and makes it stay with you long after the craziness of the Brotherhood of Dada or the Beardhunter have worn off.

“Come in out of the rain” ;_;

Scarlet Witch and The Vision. A bit creepy but for some reason when I think of great comic romances, I just keep coming back to the woman who saw her husband literally go to pieces.

I feel kind of obligated to say Reed & Sue Richards, but I can’t think of any one issue or storyline (though the recent Fantastic Four #4 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley was a phenomenal issue in an otherwise okay run).

***SPOILERS***

I think I’ll put Ex Machina #25. Not a particularly healthy (or respectful, in the end) love story, but a goddamn impressive and powerful portrayal of total dedication.

I’m suprised no one already brought it up but I’d go with the Dark Phoenix Saga from X-Men. For me, that is the definition of an epic love story…and why all the ridiculous emphasis on the retconned Cyclops/Jean/Wolverine love triangle in the past 20 years really pisses me off…and don’t even get me started on how much they screwed it up in the movies.

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