As anyone who is part of the cult of Captain Stubing knows, love is most certainly life’s sweetest reward. What better way to pay homage to such sentiment on Valentine’s Day and pay tribute to the youthful reading habits of those who once boarded the famed Love Boat oh so many decades ago, than by highlighting our recently acquired issues of Love Story Magazine!
Dawk, who appeared in the advertised of 1960s romance comic books has now taken residence in the Special Collections Reading Room. Dawk is pictured here reading the story “Shooting Stars” from the May 11, 1929 issue of Love Story Magazine.
Love Story Magazine, guided by Cupid’s pen, conquered the American appetite for, you guessed it, love stories. The magazine launched in August 1921, and starting in September 1922, became a weekly, culminating in the publication of 1,158 issues before its demise in February 1947. It was part of a wave of pulp publications, such as detective and crime magazines, that took the American reading public by storm in the early 20th century. Cheap, with colorful covers and consistent storytelling and features, Love Story hit its stride in the 1930s with a circulation of 600,000 issues! Now, that’s a lot of love!
One of the cool things about Love Story is that women were employed as artists, writers, and editors of the magazine. The issues would often feature serialized novels centering on the romantic exploits of cigarette girls, secretaries, and flappers. Though somewhat sassy and saucy for the times, the plots would normally end on the promise of wholesome marriage. Some of the most iconic covers were by Modest Stein, an anarchistic and popular commercial artist whose life was wild! He was in a relationship with Emma Goldman and was part of a plot to assassinate Henry Clay Frick… but I digress.
In addition to stories featuring creepy ladies lustily staring at men while tap-tap-tapping on windows during rainstorms, the issues also include a variety of columns, including pen pal requests and astrological love advice! Such audience-response columns are fascinating as they indicate the diversity of the Love Story readership. People in all stages of life wrote in for advice and friendship, including rural postal workers, young mothers abandoned by their husbands, carrier pigeon aficionados, and one young woman, writing under the name “Forgotten Mary” who is lonesome because “all my friends are either married or dead” (see page 147 of the May 11, 1929 issue if you don’t believe me).
As for astrological love advice, let’s just say that consulting the stars for romance and its perils can make one blunt. Love Story‘s expert astrologer, one “Wynn” who “does not make any claim whatever to superhuman knowledge or power” (see page 140 of the May 11th, 1929 issue — it is a sizzling issue!), will slay you if she thinks you are on the verge of romantic ruin. She tells one Mrs. M. to “rid your mind of emotion and romantic notions; then, if you still want a divorce, try to get it.” Things get extra spicy here, from the same May 11th 1929 issue:
Wynn will tell you when you are a complete clown! But her understanding of what the planets communicate to her regarding the lovelorn is rather sensible. Don’t rush into anything. Wait and work toward the life you want. Develop skills so you can earn a living. Maintain friendships. Let’s face it. Wynn would so be an influencer today.
Love Story Magazine ended in 1947, the same year when the very first romance comic book, Young Romance, was published. Though a comic book, Young Romance and its later imitators incorporated some of the features that made Love Story Magazine such a success. If you are interested in finding out more about our collection of romance comic books, then join us for a special Lunch with the Libraries talk on the topic! In the meantime, visit Dawk in the Special Collections Reading Room and browse some of our saucy serials!