Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bill Everett : The Atlas Romance Stories

Last time I began talking about what may be the most obscure of Bill Everett's work, his romance stories for Timely/Atlas. I presented 6 stories penciled and/or inked between 1949 and early 1951, with two 1951 cover dated stories possessing job numbers hailing the scripts back to the Timely period of 1949.

We move on now to the Atlas epoch where most freelancers did full art jobs themselves, including Bill Everett, who will produce 15 more romance stories from late 1951 to early 1956.  Sorting by job number rather than cover date, we see that 1952 was a banner year for Everett romance stories, with 11 of the 15 stories appearing with 1952 cover dates! (1)

#9247 "When A Woman Fights Back! (7 pages) in LOVE TALES #50 (Jan/52)
#9479 "Our Hearts Were Worlds Apart" (7 pages) in LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb/52)
#9480 "No Greater Love!" (6 pages) in LOVE TALES #51 (Feb/52)
#9682 "The Whole Town's Talking!" (6 pages) in LOVE TALES #51 (Feb/52)
#9712 "Fatal Error" (6 pages) in GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar/52)
#A-650 "The Long Wait!" (7 pages) in GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52)
#A-688 "I Was An Artist's Model!" (4 pages) in LOVERS #41 (Sept/52)
#A-693 "The Will To Love!" (6 pages) in LOVERS #41 (Sept/52)
#A-821 "Bitter Victory!" (6 pages) in GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug/52)
#A-907 "Too Much In Love!" (7 pages) in GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52)
#B-117 "Nine to Five" (5 pages) in MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52)

Having gotten romance out of his system in nearly one fell swoop, the final 4 follow, with the last 2 being the only post-code stories of the entire listing:

#D-069 "Mary Parker's Man!" (6 pages) in SECRET STORY ROMANCES #1 (Nov/53)
#D-514 "A Moment's Happiness" (6 pages) in TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54)

#J-439 "Love Letter!" (5 pages) in TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July/56)
#J-613 "The Lonely Nights" (4 pages) in LOVE TALES #69 (June/56)

Bill Everett drew roughly 40 Atlas stories that appeared with 1952 cover dates. 11 of them were romance stories, roughly 25%. The rest of the breakdown consisted of 6 stories in VENUS #18 and #19 (really pre-code horror stories), 16 to 20 or so straight pre-code horror stories, and 3 war stories in MEN'S ADVENTURES #14 (June/52), BATTLE ACTION #7 (Dec/52) and YOUNG MEN #18 (Dec/52).

We can also add about 30 covers in 1952, 2/3 of them pre-code horror.

So let's start at the Atlas Romance beginning, with cover dates in 1952 and the Atlas globe on the cover. I'll present the stories below, make commentary and even pick out my favorite panels to blow up and examine closer.

Sorted by job #, the very first Atlas romance story by Bill Everett appeared in the long-running romance title LOVE TALES, a 39 issue run from #36 (May/49) to #58 (Aug/52), (the first 7 issues were photo covers) and then again from #60 (Feb/55) to #75 (Sept/57). Note the "Marvel Comic" logo on the cover, a logo derived from Martin Goodman's old "Red Circle" pulp colophon and used on the cover of roughly 150 Timely comics from Jan/49 to June/50, primarily on photo covers, but not exclusively.

SPORTS ACTION Vol 1, #1 (Dec/37)
(Goodman Red Circle pulp)
cover by H.W. Scott

LOVE TALES #36 (#1) (May/49)

This title is notorious to Atlas collectors for actually missing an issue in the run, #59! A few years ago the mystery of #59 was solved by myself as romance story stats turned up in Marvel's warehouse sporting LOVE TALES #59 at the top of the pages. Cross-referencing all the stories revealed that they all ended up in LOVERS #42 (Oct/52) when LOVE TALES was cancelled after #58 (Aug/52). So due to a simple clerical error when the title re-started with #60 (Feb/55), #59 was accidentally jumped over!! Michelle Nolan later reported this in her seminal book on the history of romance comics, Love on the Racks - A History of American Romance Comics. (2) 

The cover below, and to our first five issues, was drawn by Al Hartley, one of the better romance artists appearing regularly in Atlas romance titles and one of the most prolific Atlas romance cover artists. All told, between 1952 through 1954, Hartley drew 63 romance covers, more than any other artist, before giving way to the Vince Colletta era of Atlas romance.

LOVE TALES #50 (Jan/52)
(Al Hartley cover)

As will be seen on all these stories below, they are all pure, gorgeous Bill Everett! A neat little story about a meek, sweet girl who believes her fiancée is being stolen away by the daughter of a business associate. She resigns herself to her fate much to the chagrin of her sports crazy dad, who loves her but always wished for a son. Taking his advice to "fight for her man", she confronts the hussy and... well just read it below!

#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.1
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.2
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.3
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.4
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.5
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.6
#9247 LOVE TALES #50 (Jan52) p.7

The best panel above?  This one! A fabulous haymaker as Florrie fights for her man!

Cat fight, Bill Everett style!

A happy father!

The next story appeared in LOVE ADVENTURES, initially a 2 issue 1949-50 run concurrent with a score of one and two issue 1949-50 romance glut titles that were immediately cancelled when the romance bottom fell out. The title was re-started with #3 (Feb/51) a year later and published bimonthly up through #12 (Aug/52), before changing to ACTUAL CONFESSIONS for its final two issues #13-14. Issue #8 below once again sports a really nice Al Hartley cover.

(Al Hartley cover)

A poor hillbilly gal with a fantastic singing voice has a chance at success and happiness when she comes to New York for a television audition. But will her past ruin it for her as her cold, jealous hillbilly boyfriend confronts her in the big city?  

#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.2

#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.2
#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.3
#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.4
#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.5
#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.6
#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) p.7

Beautiful artwork! I love the multicolored splash!

#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb52) [splash panel]

The author of this tale really lays on the hillbilly slang, so much so, it gets painful after a while.

#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb/52) p.6, panel 3

And the clinch!

#9479 LOVE ADVENTURES #9 (Feb/52) p.7, panel 6

Our third entry is probably the Atlas romance issue for Bill Everett fans. Not one, but TWO Everett romance stories! We start with a third Al Hartley cover:

LOVE TALES #51 (Feb/52)
(Al Hartley cover)

Story one is a tale of two sisters, one sweet, one not so much. Once again the specter of kleptomania strikes as the sweet gal tries to cover for the crimes of her cruel sister.

#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.1
#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.2

#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.3
#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.4
#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.5
#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.6

A great splash and a little bit of Everett pre-code cheesecake!

#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) (splash)

#9480 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.2, panel 3

The second Everett story is scripted by Timely-Atlas scribe Hank Chapman. Chapman wrote 14 romance stories for Timely/Atlas between 1950 and 1953. 13 of them are signed and the 14th, the earliest, I'm postulating as Chapman as the main character is named Hank Chapman in the story. That story is the classic politically incorrectly titled "No Love for a Fat Girl" in LOVERS #29 (July/50)!

Chapman and Everett present a bit of a morality play on the destructive potential of jealousy. All I can say is that I don't blame these wives one bit!

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.1
#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.2
#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.3
#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.4
#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.5
#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.6

Here's the condensed version....

The set-up...

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) (splash)

Jealous angst... Is this a great scene, or what?? I'm surprised Roy Lichtenstein didn't steal this panel!!

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.2, panel 1

The whispers...

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.4, panels 5-6

The secret's out...

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.5, panel 1

All a misunderstanding!

#9682 LOVE TALES #51 (Feb52) p.6, panel 5

The next title of note is the illustrative GIRL CONFESSIONS, my very favorite Atlas romance title. Everett has four stories in four issues and this title is the repository for some of the best Atlas romance art of all. The title began as the famous GIRL COMICS, running 12 issues from Oct/49 to Jan/52. It then changed to GIRL CONFESSIONS with #13 ((Mar/52), enjoying a long run of 23 additional issues up through #35 (Aug/54).

During its storied run it featured an artistic line-up including Bill Everett (4 stories), Jerry Robinson (6 stories), Joe Maneely (2 stories), Russ Heath, Gil Kane, Fred Kida and even Harry Anderson, along with regulars like Mike Sekowsky, Al Hartley, Jay Scott Pike, Art Peddy, Alice Kirkpatrick, Sid Greene, Vern Greene, Brown & Gantz, Christopher Rule, George Klein, and at the end of the run, Vince Colletta. Most of the covers were by Al Hartley, 13 by my count. We even get 2 covers by what looks like Carmine Infantino possibly with Gil Kane, #19 (Oct/52) and #20 (Nov/52). Years ago I spent some time with Carmine Infantino at a New York show and I showed him a large collection of his work for Atlas in the 1952 period. As we paged through the stories I asked who he thought may have done the inking. He offered the suggestion that Gil Kane "may" have worked on some of the stories with him but we never could get specific or nail anything down. (3)

(Infantino? & Kane? cover)
(Infantino? & Kane? cover)

Let's begin the Everett work with the very first issue, #13 (Mar/52), and our 4th straight Al Hartley cover:

GIRL CONFESSIONS #31 (#1) (Mar/52)
(Al Hartley cover)

"Fatal Error" tells the story of a young beautiful model made famous by a photographer who is madly in love with her. When she leaves him in the lurch, going to Hollywood with a handsome male model to make it in the movie industry, she ultimately learns her fatal error as he dumps her as soon it's determined she's not "photogenic", which is kind of silly since she was already a successful model in New York. Maybe she just couldn't act!

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.1
#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.2
#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.3
#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.4
#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.5
#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.6

Again, the condensed version...

The splash depicting the climax to the story:

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52)  splash

The hard work...

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.2, panel 1

In love with the man who made it all possible, the photographer...

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52)
p.2, panel 6


#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.3, panel 1

The betrayal! Beware of male models!

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.3, panel 5

The splash scene! The rival! Violence!

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.4, panel 5

In Hollywood, the girl doesn't "have it"...

#9712 GIRL CONFESSIONS #13 (Mar52) p.5, panel 4

Dumped! "What a fool I've been!"

#9712 p.5, panel 7

Return to New York... He still loves me!

#9712  p.6, panel 6

Al Hartley graces the cover of our 5th straight issue, GIRL CONFESSIONS once again. Everett has the lead story this issue and this is one of the weaker entries story-wise as a young singer's hopes are dashed by strained vocal chords. Taking on a protege`, she drives the young woman very hard, hoping to achieve success through her, and in the process almost loses her fiancée, who she has repeatedly put off marrying.

(Al Hartley cover)

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.1

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.2

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.3

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.4

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.5

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.6

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July/52) p.7

Another colorful splash displaying the story climax:

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July52) p.1 splash

A kiss for good luck!

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July52) p.2, panel 6

Everett headlights! Well it is pre-code!

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July52) p.5, panel 1

Isn't love grand??

#A-650 GIRL CONFESSIONS #16 (July52) p.7, panel 1

The next title featuring Bill Everett Atlas romance stories is another classic issue featuring two Everett tales! The issue is LOVERS #41 (Sept/52). LOVERS was another of the 4 longest running Timely/Atlas romance titles (we've already seen LOVE TALES above), lasting 64 issues from, #36 (May/49) through #86 (Aug/57). (The other 2 long-running titles were LOVE ROMANCES and MY OWN ROMANCE/TEEN-AGE ROMANCE).

Like LOVE TALES above, the first 7 issues were photo covers. Here is the debut issue:

LOVERS #23 (#1) (May/49)

The lead story in the debut issue was penciled by Mike Sekowsky, but that's material for another blog post. Below is the cover to issue #41. Finally we have a cover artist I cannot identify. The man gives a hint that Al Hartley may have had a hand but overall it's one of many from this period, all similar, without an artist's name attached to it.

LOVERS #41 (Sept/52)

In addition to Bill Everett, there is a gorgeous Werner Roth story (with a full-page splash) .....

#A-778 Werner Roth

.....and a story by the team of Brown & Gantz, Ben Brown and Timely alumnus David Gantz. Gantz at Timely hails back to the earliest years of the humor staff on titles like COMEDY COMICS, KRAZY KOMICS, TERRYTOONS and JOKER COMICS, where he took over Squat Car Squad from his friend Al Jaffee.

For more background on the Timely humor books, click here:  Timely funny-animal department

Gantz later contributed to the hero books as well as the teen titles post-war. The Brown & Gantz team did a lot of work in the early 1950's for Atlas, Toby (including the PURPLE CLAW), and even their own creator owned property BEANBAGS. The team worked in this manner; David Gantz would lay out the stories, Ben Brown would pencil and then Gantz would come back and ink.

The first of two Bill Everett stories this issue is a short 4-pager, "I Was An Artist's Model!" The one question I have as I read this is... did people really act in the manner these people act?  Has young courtship changed so much? The premise to this story is ridiculous! A gorgeous gal won't accept a marriage proposal from a great guy because she believes, no she "wonders", if he only loves her beauty, not her. She's not even sure and he's done nothing to to make her think otherwise. Now how silly is this?  And the short 4-page format this time means no further development of the plot, it just comes to a grinding halt as she realizes he really does love her for her.  Wow... smitten guys sure offered marriage proposals quickly in these stories.

Everett does a wonderful job with a limited story. A nice splash and even though most of the story is "talking heads", the heads sure are pretty!

#A-688 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.1

#A-688 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.2

#A-688 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.3

#A-688 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.6

The splash sets up the conflict at its climax:

And in 4 quick panels the silly problem is solved on page 4!

The second Everett story this issue was scripted by Carl Wessler. Wessler was incredibly prolific for Timely/Atlas from 1951 to 1957 in every genre, but primarily pre-code crime and horror/fantasy. I've attributed almost 500 Atlas stories to him so far with the help of Robin Snyder, who has access to Wessler's record books. Many of the late 1951, early 1952 Atlas crime books were entirely scripted by Wessler!

In this story the anguish meter is pushed into the red zone! A handicapped young woman (the spitting image of Namorita!) falls in love with a young man while her jealous sister tries to convince her he only feels sorry for her. Lots of emotional turmoil lushly rendered by Everett.

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.1

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.2

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.3

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.4

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.5

#A-693 LOVERS #41 (Sept52) p.6

Love can conquer all adversity!

Happily ever after!

Our next two stories take us back to the great Atlas romance title GIRL CONFESSIONS. The first story, "Bitter Victory", is a 6-pager and comes from issue #17 (Aug/52).


The cover artist to both issues is the same nondescript artist we saw on the cover to LOVERS #41 above, namely "I don't know". The issue contains stories by Al Hartley, Jay Scott Pike, Brown & Gantz, and bringing up the rear, Bill Everett....

#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.1

#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.2

#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.3
#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.4
#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.5
#A-821 GIRL CONFESSIONS #17 (Aug52) p.6

Two young women plan their lives out in ways they "think" they want. Both are successful in achieving their goals, rejecting love for ambition, but..... it doesn't guarantee happiness!

Next is issue #18 (September/52):


Without a doubt, this is the stinker of the bunch. A silly story with stereotyped characterizations and situations. Nothing is believable in this story.  I'm astonished how many men and women in these stories fall in love instantaneously and immediately want to marry someone they've known a day or two. Everett's artwork also drops down to match this lesser story. The pictures are still pretty but stiff and uninspired.

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.1

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.2

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.3

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.4

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.5
#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.6

#A-907 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept/52) p.7

This issue is also special to me for the fact that it contains what may be the only actual "signed" solo romance story by one of my favorite Timely artists, Christopher Rule!  You can find Rule's name accompanying text illustrations in JUNIOR MISS #25 (July/47) and MISS AMERICA Vol 7, #1 (Aug/47), his initials on a Wendy Parker story in WENDY PARKER #3 (Sept/53) and the cover of WENDY PARKER #4 (Oct/53), his last name on the cover to PATSY AND HER PALS #12 (Mar/55), and even his initials again (with Stan Lee's) on "Patsy's Fashion Parade" in PATSY WALKER #80 (Dec/58), but this may well be the only solo romance story (among scores) bearing a cursive signature "C. Rule"!

I won't go into a big Rule discussion here because I intend to devote an entire blog post to him in the future, but I'll reveal a teaser sample...

#A-808 GIRL CONFESSIONS #18 (Sept52)  [SPLASH]
signed Christopher Rule!


It's the little things that make me happy!

We close out cover date 1952 with MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52), a big, thick 52 page issue. The cover artist is the same unknown, nondescript artist we saw thrice previously, hinting at Al Hartley but not likely him.

MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52)

Al Hartley does have the lead story inside, followed by Mike Sekowsky, Ogden Whitney, 2 stories by Christopher Rule (the 1st perhaps only inked by him) and Bill Everett ending the issue....

#B-117 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) p.1

#B-117 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) p.2

#B-117 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) p.3

#B-117 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) p.4

#B-117 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) p.5

A war widow with a young son falls in love with a man who is rejected by her son, pining for his late war hero father. While the story builds interestingly for 4 pages, it comes to a rapid denouement on page 5. Not a very believable depiction of the man holding off a shark with his bare hands in panel 4.

This issue also sports a surprise, an actual letter page edited by Stan Lee!  During the Timely romance glut of 1949-50, many romance issues sported pseudo letter pages that were fictional advice columns and not true letter pages at all. Starting cover date Aug/52, editor-in-chief Stan Lee began an experiment to impart a club house feel to the Atlas titles under his direction, perhaps even trying to emulate what Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein were doing over at E.C. and elicit real reader feedback. The very first was Suspense Sanctuary in the pre-code horror title SUSPENSE. Suspense Sanctuary ran in issues #21,22,23,25,26,27 and 28 (Mar/53). Concurrently, this was also tried for two issues in MY OWN ROMANCE as Heart to Heart Talk, issues #24 (Sept/52) and #25 (Nov/52). A letter page, Battlefield Bivouac, was even tried for a single time in BATTLEFIELD #4 (Oct/52). When SUSPENSE was replaced by MENACE, Stan once again asked readers to write in with comments on the early issues but no letter page ever materialized there.

Look below for a planted letter from Stan Lee's own wife Joan, asking for a reader's poll for favorite stories.

#A774 MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov/52) [Letter Page]

With the publication above of MY OWN ROMANCE #25 (Nov52), Bill Everett gets romance out of his system. For the entire cover year of 1952 he had drawn 11 romance stories in 5 different titles and a single romance cover (that I will show in the cover section at the end of this post). He will only draw 4 more romance stories for Atlas over the next 5 years.

For the next full year (until his first of final four Atlas romance stories starting cover month Nov/53) Everett will, in addition to freelancing elsewhere in the industry, draw exclusively war and horror stories for Atlas. The war stories were in the titles BATTLE ACTION, BATTLEFIELD, COMBAT CASEY, MAN COMICS, WAR COMICS and YOUNG MEN. The horror stories were in titles like MENACE, MEN'S ADVENTURES (during its horror run), MYSTIC, SUSPENSE and UNCANNY TALES.

He will also contribute over 30 covers to the line in this same time period, almost exclusively pre-code horror covers, including the first 6 covers for MENACE.

Yow!!! Is this cover great or what??  MENACE #1 (Mar/53)

Cover date Nov/53, Atlas launched a new romance title out of the blue, SECRET STORY ROMANCES. Besides the continuation of TRUE SECRETS with #22 (Feb/54) after an 18 month hiatus, this would be the only new romance title until STORIES OF ROMANCE (Mar/56) and MY LOVE STORY (Apr/56).  (TRUE SECRETS would become TRUE TALES OF LOVE, also cover dated April, 1956.)

The debut issue of  SECRET STORY ROMANCES had Bill Everett's only romance story of cover date 1953, the 6-page "Mary Parker's Man!".  The cover was drawn by Jay Scott Pike, one of Atlas' most prolific romance artists and the artist who would take over Jann of the Jungle from Art Peddy in 1954, as well as Lorna the Jungle Girl from Werner Roth and Bob Brown in 1955, making both features his own and stamping the female jungle characters with his unmistakable good-girl/romance style.

Pike would draw approximately 16 Atlas romance covers, 9 of them in 1954.

(Jay Scott Pike cover art)

After stories by John Tartaglione (written by Paul S. Newman), Jay Scott Pike, a stylized artist I cannot identify (written by Paul S. Newman) and Al Hartley, the gem of the issue (well, at least visually) is the final story by Bill Everett, "Mary Parker's Man!"

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.1

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.2

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.3

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.4

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.5

#D-69 Secret Story Romances #1 (Nov/53) p.6

So let's see..... Frank and Danny return from Korea to Danny's small town and his girl Mary Parker (May Parker's cousin?).

Unfortunately Danny returns with all the immaturity intact that he left with. Mary is endlessly charmed by his boyish charm though, and can't resist his kisses:

When Danny reverts to type, irresponsible and unable to hold a job, including stealing from Frank after being given a 2nd chance, Frank makes his move.....

 Mary finally sees Danny for the loser he is and ends up with Frank Masters (Alicia Master's uncle?)

Bill Everett's final pre-code romance story for Atlas was also drawn and published in 1953, although the cover date will say Feb/54. The book is TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54). TRUE SECRETS had a strange life. We already saw this title in the previous blog post on Bill Everett's Timely romance stories. I'll re-hash for those (all 2 of you) who abstained. It began with #3 (Mar/50, possibly continuing the numbering from OUR LOVE #2, Jan/50) at the tail-end of the romance glut......

TRUE SECRETS #3 (#1) Mar/50

..... and was immediately cancelled with all the rest of the one, two and three issue glut titles. But like Lazarus rising from the dead, it gained a reprieve 11 months later (along with LOVE ADVENTURES), publishing issues #4 through #21 (Aug/52), before getting the ax for a second time. It again cheated the reaper 18 months later when #22 (Feb/54) appeared, and continued unabated until #40 (Sept/56).

So here is issue #22:

TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54)

The cover is unsigned but I see a hodge-podge of possible discernible styles. The gentleman on the right could be drawn by Al Hartley. The young lady on the left has the hair inks and head shape of Christopher Rule's women.

...  and the cross-eyes of Ann Brewster.

Do I think three artists jammed on this cover? No. I have no idea who drew it, I'm just telling you what my eyes see.

Inside, besides the Bill Everett story, the other highlight is a very nice tale by Paul Reinman, who was doing the finest work of his career in the early 1950's:

#D-530 (Paul Reinman art)

So on to "A Moment's Happiness":

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.1

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.2

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.3

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.4

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.5

#D-514 TRUE SECRETS #22 (Feb/54) p.6

The story is kind of silly as a woman has to decide between a nice man she doesn't love and a man she does love who happens to engage in high-risk behavior, namely is a test pilot.  The splash montage is nice but the rest of the pages are mostly talking heads. I'm still baffled by how quickly young couples fall in love and want to immediately marry in these stories. The young women of the generation depicted here had a completely different outlook of what they wanted to do with their lives. They rarely went on to higher education and their own career paths, instead they looked for a husband who would care and provide for them. It's a different world.

#D-514 splash

Personally, I don't know how Jake survived his plane crash! He should have been incinerated and instead survives with only a band-aid on his forehead.

I guess love saved the day!

#D-514 p.6, panel 6

Following the above story, Everett takes his leave of romance and spends the next two years focusing on his signature character, the revived Sub-Mariner appearing in YOUNG MEN, MEN'S ADVENTURES, HUMAN TORCH and a long 10 issue run in his own revived title SUB-MARINER COMICS.

Everett also draws several humor parodies in CRAZY and WILD, before joining the post-code fantasy expansion with a score of stories and covers. From a trickle of less than 10 covers in 1954 and 1955, in 1956 alone Everett responded with almost 60 covers!

In 1956 Everett also returns to the romance genre in this post-code period with his two final romance stories for Atlas. They appear in back-to-back months. The first is a short 4-pager in LOVE TALES #69 (June/56), "The Lonely Nights".

The cover is by Vince Colletta but since I don't see a signature, it's possible it could have been penciled by someone else. At this time Colletta was the dean of the Atlas romance department, drawing 2 stories every issue and about 95% of all the covers in the recently expanded post-code romance line that featured 8 different romance titles at the time of this issue's publication. The 8 titles were the long standing LOVE TALES, MY OWN ROMANCE, LOVE ROMANCES, LOVERS and TRUE SECRETS (which was subsequently cancelled), along with new additions to the line like TRUE TALES OF LOVE, STORIES OF ROMANCE and MY LOVE STORY.

LOVE TALES #69 (Aug/56)

The book's artistic line-up is standard post-code Atlas romance fare: Vince Colletta, Al Hartley, Jay Scott Pike, and a weird sketchy artist I cannot identify. He/she may have just been passing through as I don't believe I've ever seen the like before. As expected, the gem of the issue is Bill Everett, although the art is stripped down of its usual lushness. In fact, while the Everett signature is blatantly obvious in the first panel, the figure work looks decidedly Al Hartley-ish to me, especially the thick, black eyebrows. But I cannot say for certain. It could very well be all Everett in a stripped down, more simplistic post-code mode.

#J-613 LOVE TALES #69 (Aug56) p.1

#J-613 LOVE TALES #69 (Aug56) p.2
#J-613 LOVE TALES #69 (Aug56) p.3

#J-613 LOVE TALES #69 (Aug56) p.4

Ok, let's face it, the story is silly. Holly feels sorry for herself because she's so short and feels a guy will never give her a second look. The way the story is drawn, Holly isn't that short! If the average girl is about 5'4" in these stories, Holly comes in at about 5'.  That's short? My wife is 4'11" and it never gave me pause. Hmm.. but it does explain the high heels.

Let's look at the artwork. As I mentioned, there's something funny about this. All you folks reading this have already seen 13 purely Bill Everett stories above. Do these panels from this story look like all Bill Everett?

Almost looks like Dan DeCarlo!

Now compare to this and add Everett inks:

Al Hartley MY OWN ROMANCE #53, Aug/56

Al Hartley LOVE TALES #69 (Aug/56)

Al Hartley LOVE TALES #69 (Aug/56)

Al Hartley LOVE TALES #70 (Oct/56)

And finally, the very last Bill Everett Atlas romance story. "Love Letter" from TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July/56). Another unsigned Vince Colletta cover possibly penciled by someone else.

TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July/56)

The issue features stories by Vince Colletta (2), Ann Bewster, Tom Scheuer and Bill Everett. Look closely at this final story. Unlike the previous, in spite of simpler drawing, this is all Everett. Storywise? Post-code slop with no real story at all, minimal conflict and a syrupy resolution.

#J-439 TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July56) p.1

#J-439 TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July56) p.2

#J-439 TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July56) p.3

#J-439 TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July56) p.4

#J-439 TRUE TALES OF LOVE #25 (July56) p.5

 A nice splash...

The famous Everett pants suit!

The anguish...

The end!

I'm going to finish with a collection of all Bill Everett's romance covers, 5 total by my count.


1) We start with a nice, signed, pre-code romance cover from Everett's prime romance year, 1952.  

TRUE SECRETS #20 (July/52)

2) The next cover is an anomaly, one of only 3 grey-tone Atlas covers I know of. This cover looks like Jay Scott Pike may have drawn it and Bill Everett then did the tones and finishes. This is 1954.


3) Skipping two more years again into 1956, the next cover is also an anomaly. The main figures in the foreground are by Vince Colletta, but take a look at the 3 background women. Bill Everett!


4) In 1957, another hybrid cover. The man looks like Vince Colletta but all three nurses, especially those in the background, are by Bill Everett. Colletta may have penciled both foreground figures.

MY OWN ROMANCE #58 (July/57)

5) And lastly, the final Bill Everett romance work right at the cusp of the Atlas implosion, LOVE ROMANCES #70 (Aug/57). Note the full, beautiful Everett signature.

LOVE ROMANCES #70 (Aug/57)


  1. Vassallo, Michael J.. Every scan and iota of Timely-Atlas data above sourced from my own collection and research.
  2. Nolan, Michelle. Love on the Racks - A History of American Romance Comics, McFarland & Company, Inc. 2008, (referencing Dr. Michael J. Vassallo p.5, 106.) 
  3. Infantino, Carmine. Conversation with author, approx. 2002.

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