“Movies in Comicolor”

Comic books and movies seem to be synonymous these days but both industries share a long and fascinating history that can be traced back to the 1930s. One of the many interesting offshoots of this unusual association was the publication of Movie Love in 1950. At the time comic publishers like DC and Fawcett had both attempted to publish action orientated movie-based comics with varied success. And some western stars such as Roy Rogers and John Wayne also had their own popular comic book series. Movie Love was distinct because it was a romance comic aimed at a female audience and the films it featured focused on adult relationships. It appealed to women of all ages and today it’s a fascinating reminder of what film fandom was like more than sixty years ago before home video and DVDs gave us all easy access to the classic movies we love.


Movie Love was the brainchild of the Eastern Color Printing Company. This Connecticut based business published the first American comic books in the 1930s, Funnies on Parade and Famous Funnies. These two publications were largely responsible for kick starting the modern comic book industry and today successful companies like DC and Marvel still use a similar publishing format that was pioneered by the Eastern Color Printing Company.



Top: Pages based on Last Dance (1950; Norman Z. McLeod) featuring Fred Astaire and Betty Hutten
Bottom: Pages based on Captain Blackjack (1950; Julien Duvivier) starring George Sanders and Patricia Roc

As I mentioned earlier, the first issue of Movie Love was originally published in 1950. At the time the American comic book industry was booming and romance comics were extremely popular. Women were devouring them and there were about 150 different romance based comic book titles to choose from. Movie Love faced some tough competition but it maintained a steady readership for almost three years alongside its sister publication, Personal Love, which also featured illustrated film adaptations along with original romantic stories. Today romance comics are considered somewhat of an old-fashioned novelty but they’re slowly gaining more respect thanks to critical studies like Love on the Racks: A History of American Romance Comics by Michelle Nolan and Agonizing Love: The Golden Era of Romance Comics by Michael Barson. As a longtime comic book reader I personally find romance comics incredibly intriguing and just plain fun to read. But they have limited appeal, particularly to contemporary audiences who only associate comics with superheroes and the funny pages of their local newspaper.

Movie Love was tailor-made for movie fans that were eager to read more about the stars they admired and the movies they enjoyed. Each issue featured an eye-catching photo cover and included an illustrated adaptation of a new Hollywood movie along with biographical information about many beloved actors such as Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Esther Williams, Burt Lancaster, Joan Crawford, William Powell and Myrna Loy. These romantic comic books resembled the True Confession magazines that were also widely popular with female readers at the time. In many ways Movie Love was a toss away publication with a short shelf life but brilliant comic book artists such as the incomparable Frank Frazetta along with Al Williamson illustrated some of the issues. These men took great care in composing each comic panel and some of the best pages of Movie Love resembled colorful film storyboards that captured the reader’s imagination and offered them the opportunity to relive their favorite movie moments over and over again.


Today movie audiences are bombarded by movie trailers when they go to see a new film and there are televisions as well as computers in almost every home that allow us to watch movies on DVD and stream them online at our convenience. It’s easy for us to access information about any movie we want to see but in 1950 when Movie Love was originally published it provided readers with a unique and stylized look at select films and Hollywood stars. From the limited research that I’ve done it seems that most of the movies featured in Movie Love were associated with Paramount Pictures. The Eastern Color Printing Company must have developed a special working relationship with the studio in order to get information about the new films they were releasing. But actors linked to many studios were highlighted in the pages of Movie Love.

When the last issue of Movie Love was published in 1953 the Eastern Color Printing Company was facing increased competition from other comic book companies as well as pressure from the Comics Code Authority that demanded they tone down the adult content of their publications. Much like the Hollywood Production Code that came before it, the new and enforced Comics Code Authority insisted that comic books followed certain guidelines that were more “child friendly.” They wanted comics to show less sex and violence while promoting respect for authority and the sanctity of marriage. Eastern Color Printing Company faced particularly tough criticism for their war-themed comic books that were suddenly considered too violent for readers. The Comics Code Authority may have made comic books more child friendly but in the process they lost a large percentage of their adult readership and many publishers couldn’t stand the financial strain caused by these drastic changes. After suspending publication of many popular titles the Eastern Color Printing Company finally stopped production on all their comic books in 1955. They continued to operate as a printing company but their creative endeavors came to an end.



Top: Pages based on The Stooge (1952; Norman Taurog) starring Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin
Bottom: Illustrated biographies of William Holden and Burt Lancaster (by Al Williamson & Frank Frazetta)

The Eastern Color Printing Company may not be all that familiar to modern comic book fans now but they produced some of the most sought after comics in the world. Issues of Famous Funnies featuring artwork by Frank Frazetta fetch huge sums of money in the collectors market and some original issues of Movie Love currently sell for as much as $100 on eBay. I don’t believe that anyone has published an official collection of Movie Love comics but you can currently find a few issues available to read at the Digital Comics Museum, which legally shares public domain Golden Age Comic Books. These colorful remnants from another era might appear rather quaint today but I suspect that many classic movie fans will find Movie Love comics as appealing as I do.

0 Response “Movies in Comicolor”
Posted By swac : February 16, 2012 3:48 pm

Wow, comicolour doesn’t do Bill Holden’s hair any favours.

Posted By swac : February 16, 2012 3:48 pm

Wow, comicolour doesn’t do Bill Holden’s hair any favours.

Posted By sandy ferber : February 16, 2012 4:21 pm

Wow, Gene Tierney as a comic book heroine? Who’d’ve thunk it?!?! Anyway, very interesting article on a publication I’d never dreamed existed. Thanks as always, Kimberly, for a job well done!

Posted By sandy ferber : February 16, 2012 4:21 pm

Wow, Gene Tierney as a comic book heroine? Who’d’ve thunk it?!?! Anyway, very interesting article on a publication I’d never dreamed existed. Thanks as always, Kimberly, for a job well done!

Posted By jbryant : February 16, 2012 4:41 pm

Yeah, weird that their hair color choice for young Bill Holden seems to be based on his role in SABRINA.

Posted By jbryant : February 16, 2012 4:41 pm

Yeah, weird that their hair color choice for young Bill Holden seems to be based on his role in SABRINA.

Posted By Lindsey : February 16, 2012 5:16 pm

Fascinating! I collect old fan magazines/movie-related publications and would love to get my hands on a couple of these. I must confess, I’d never heard of ‘Movie Love’ until I saw this post!

Posted By Lindsey : February 16, 2012 5:16 pm

Fascinating! I collect old fan magazines/movie-related publications and would love to get my hands on a couple of these. I must confess, I’d never heard of ‘Movie Love’ until I saw this post!

Posted By Susan Doll : February 16, 2012 5:37 pm

Interesting, some of the comic book interpretations of stars look just like them (Burt Lancaster); others miss by a mile (Jerry Lewis). This is way cool, however. Will have the Facets Facebook crew re-post.

Posted By Susan Doll : February 16, 2012 5:37 pm

Interesting, some of the comic book interpretations of stars look just like them (Burt Lancaster); others miss by a mile (Jerry Lewis). This is way cool, however. Will have the Facets Facebook crew re-post.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:43 pm

swac – I think comicolor was unsuccessfully gunning for that ‘Golden Boy’ look.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:43 pm

swac – I think comicolor was unsuccessfully gunning for that ‘Golden Boy’ look.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:48 pm

Sandy – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:48 pm

Sandy – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:51 pm

Lindsay – I’m glad you found it interesting too. I have a super soft spot for romance comics (as well as classic movies of course) so “Movie Love” is really appealing to me. I highly recommend downloading the few free issues available at the Digital Comics Museum that I linked to above. I think you’d enjoy them.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:51 pm

Lindsay – I’m glad you found it interesting too. I have a super soft spot for romance comics (as well as classic movies of course) so “Movie Love” is really appealing to me. I highly recommend downloading the few free issues available at the Digital Comics Museum that I linked to above. I think you’d enjoy them.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:56 pm

Susan – The artwork was really uneven at times due to multiple artists working for Eastman. Lancaster was illustrated by Frank Frazetta who was a masterful artist and he did a terrific job of capturing Lancaster’s likeness. On the other hand, Jerry Lewis didn’t fare too well. Thanks for sharing this with the Facet’s crew! Hope they enjoy it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 16, 2012 5:56 pm

Susan – The artwork was really uneven at times due to multiple artists working for Eastman. Lancaster was illustrated by Frank Frazetta who was a masterful artist and he did a terrific job of capturing Lancaster’s likeness. On the other hand, Jerry Lewis didn’t fare too well. Thanks for sharing this with the Facet’s crew! Hope they enjoy it.

Posted By morlockjeff : February 16, 2012 11:18 pm

Kimberly, I have never heard about Movie Love. Thank you for introducing me to this amazing subculture of fandom. Leaping Lancaster, The Stooge and Big Headed Paula Raymond….wow. I’m speechless.

Posted By morlockjeff : February 16, 2012 11:18 pm

Kimberly, I have never heard about Movie Love. Thank you for introducing me to this amazing subculture of fandom. Leaping Lancaster, The Stooge and Big Headed Paula Raymond….wow. I’m speechless.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : February 17, 2012 1:31 am

Who would hold a contortionist pose like that in the comic clip with that gal talking to George Sanders? And, despite liking George Sanders’s movies, I don’t think he had washboard abs like the artist drew on him!

Posted By jennifromrollamo : February 17, 2012 1:31 am

Who would hold a contortionist pose like that in the comic clip with that gal talking to George Sanders? And, despite liking George Sanders’s movies, I don’t think he had washboard abs like the artist drew on him!

Posted By swac : February 17, 2012 1:32 pm

Gene Tierney would have been a great Lois Lane!

Posted By swac : February 17, 2012 1:32 pm

Gene Tierney would have been a great Lois Lane!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 1:57 pm

Jeff – I’m glad you found the post interesting. I think a lot of people forget that comics were once read by much more people of all ages before the Comics Code Authority stepped in. And there were also a lot of different genres like western comics, war comics, horror comics, romance comics as well as television and movie based comics to choose from.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 1:57 pm

Jeff – I’m glad you found the post interesting. I think a lot of people forget that comics were once read by much more people of all ages before the Comics Code Authority stepped in. And there were also a lot of different genres like western comics, war comics, horror comics, romance comics as well as television and movie based comics to choose from.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 2:03 pm

Jenni – I think you’re referring to “artistic license.” I personally admire the artist who drew George Sanders. Sanders has a very distinct face and I think the artist did a good job of capturing his likeness, washboard stomach or not. The comic was supposed to appeal to women and I guess some women wanted to see a “ripped” George Sanders.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 2:03 pm

Jenni – I think you’re referring to “artistic license.” I personally admire the artist who drew George Sanders. Sanders has a very distinct face and I think the artist did a good job of capturing his likeness, washboard stomach or not. The comic was supposed to appeal to women and I guess some women wanted to see a “ripped” George Sanders.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 2:05 pm

swac – Agreed!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 17, 2012 2:05 pm

swac – Agreed!

Posted By dukeroberts : February 19, 2012 4:15 pm

Two of my favorite things in the same article. Thanks, Kimberly!

The Comics Code Authority is virtually dead now (finally). In 1971, Stan “The Man” Lee published the first mainstream comics without the CCA seal since the CCA’s creation. Even after that, it still took 40 years for the CCA to go the way of the dodo. It all but ceased to exist last year.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 19, 2012 4:15 pm

Two of my favorite things in the same article. Thanks, Kimberly!

The Comics Code Authority is virtually dead now (finally). In 1971, Stan “The Man” Lee published the first mainstream comics without the CCA seal since the CCA’s creation. Even after that, it still took 40 years for the CCA to go the way of the dodo. It all but ceased to exist last year.

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 24 | Parallax View : February 24, 2012 1:52 pm

[...] Lane and Agee’s celebrated Life article on “Comedy’s Greatest Era.” While Kimberly Lindbergs looks back at Movie Love, an early-50′s comic book consisting of movie adaptations and star bios. Which seems a [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of February 24 | Parallax View : February 24, 2012 1:52 pm

[...] Lane and Agee’s celebrated Life article on “Comedy’s Greatest Era.” While Kimberly Lindbergs looks back at Movie Love, an early-50′s comic book consisting of movie adaptations and star bios. Which seems a [...]

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