Treasured Stories: “Any Port in a Storm” (1974)

« I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve. » — George Bernard Shaw

Today, let’s spread a little romance around. This much-maligned genre certainly deserves more affection and respect. From what I’ve observed, even social media groups nominally dedicated to romance comics mostly exist to mock and denigrate them. Honestly, are they truly sillier and more formulaic than superhero comics?

Anyway, while recently visiting a local comic shop with the intent of buying some supplies, I also discovered a fine trove of late 60s to mid-70s romance titles, affordably-priced to boot. Having spent a month or so leisurely reading through the pile, here’s a favourite tale. My co-conspirator and romantic partner ds spotted this one first, and I agreed with her assessment that this was something special. Let us, then, cast off into the briny blue… just don’t forget to bring the oars.

Jack Abel (1927-1996) was one of those efficient and reliably solid artists of the sort that held the comics industry together through the years. I honestly can’t think of any other artist who, more than once, worked concurrently for DC (mostly inking, but occasionally pencilling) Marvel (inking and editorial), Charlton (pencils and inks) and Gold Key (pencils and inks). Add to that tally Atlas-Seaboard (in its sole year of existence, 1975) and Skywald, and you have a mighty ubiquitous fellow. It is worth specifying that, unlike most of comics’ other utility players and pinch hitters, his work never seemed rushed or botched.

For what it’s worth, Abel was twice the hapless victim of fine artiste Roy Lichtenstein, both in 1963, with: Torpedo…Los! and Crak!

I enjoy Abel’s Charlton work most, because he was often assigned some memorable scripts (an unlikely prospect at Gold Key), chief among them The Lure of the Swamp! (script by Nicola Cuti, Haunted no. 8, Oct. 1972); Mr. Blanque (script by Cuti, Ghostly Haunts no. 28, Nov. 1972); Like Father, Like Son (script by Cuti, Haunted no. 10, Jan. 1972); Sewer Patrol! (script by Cuti, Ghostly Haunts no. 31, Apr. 1973); and The Teddy Bear! (script by Cuti, Haunted no. 15, Nov. 1973)…

Any Port in a Storm, however, is clearly the work of Joe Gill, who frequently helped distinguish and elevate Charlton’s romance material by deftly integrating just the right amount of plausible detail of business, engineering, sports or what-have-you matters into his narratives. Presumably, Gill was getting further mileage from all the research he’d conducted in order to write the fifteen-issue Popeye Career Awareness Library, a couple of years earlier.

As you can witness, this is every bit as much of a tale of adventure as it is a romance, and indeed, why split hairs when you can have both?

Any Port in a Storm was rightly picked as the cover feature: this is Love Diary no. 90 (Nov. 1974, Charlton); George Wildman, managing editor.

-RG

3 thoughts on “Treasured Stories: “Any Port in a Storm” (1974)

  1. Geo. Raymond November 26, 2021 / 18:52

    I was expecting a final twist, like, he’s still on the boat, or, haunted lighthouse, but, then it ended, and just as I was beginning to think i missed something, I saw the title. “Love Diary”. OK, I get it. A happy ending is fine, too, some-times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gasp65 November 26, 2021 / 19:35

      Speaking of missing something, I must sheepishly confess that I had inadvertently left out page six… so if some plot transitions felt a little abrupt, that was likely the reason. Try it again… though there still won’t be a ‘sting in the tail’ at the end. And yeah, I love a happy ending that’s come by honestly. This, I think, is such a case. And thanks for chiming in, George!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Krackles November 27, 2021 / 15:50

    I’m not a fan of romance comics but I believe there is no such thing as a bad genre, just bad writers and /or bad editors.
    If you don’t believe me, give the job to someone of Jack Kirby’s caliber who could pull off any genre assignation with equal ease.
    Besides, being mostly visually oriented, I, kind of, enjoyed some poorly written romance comics but brillantly illustrated by John Buscema, John Romita, Gene Colan or Alex Toth, …
    That being said, it’s a very narrow niche genre that faces stiff competition from other genres as romance isn’t an exclusive theme.

    Liked by 2 people

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