Lonely Hearts Ep. 16: Angel Heart – Romance in the 80s

By way of Barbara Slate's Angel Love #1 (DC Comics, 1986), the boys talk about love in the square 80s, the state of romance comics in that decade, and relationship deal breakers. Plus, Romance Comics Theatre, and your feedback about Superman's love life!

Listen to Episode 16 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings apply), or subscribe to The Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: Lonely Hearts Ep.16 Supplemental

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13 responses to “Lonely Hearts Ep. 16: Angel Heart – Romance in the 80s

  1. I always wondered about Angel Love. The ads in EVERY DC comic of the time made it seem like an “edgy” indie romance comic…which meant there was no way in hell my pre-teen self would be caught dead buying it. But it still looked interesting. For some reason, for years my young mind remembered Trina Robbins was the creator on this. Probably because she did that Legend of Wonder Woman mini-series around the same time. Lots of indie folks at DC in the 80s.

    I thought I was the only living person who remembered Caroline in the City. But I always liked Lea Thompson. Yes, even in Howard the Duck.

    For pete’s sake Siskoid, give Marty and Furn an SMF episode on Beast Wars. You owe them!


  2. Fun episode fellas, I remember buying ANGEL LOVE at the time, thinking it was cool DC was trying something so unusual. Alas, the book just didn’t work for me–I found the cartoony visuals and talking cockroaches to be an odd fit with the heavy subject matter–but I think I still bought all six issues anyway.

    DC really was trying a lot of different stuff back then, its a shame that everything go so homogenized just a few years later. Like is typical with these things, I’m betting DC didn’t make much effort to get AL seen in front of the people more likely to buy it, instead just stocking it alongside Batman and Swamp Thing. If AL was published now, maybe you’d run an ad in TEEN VOGUE or something similar…

  3. Oh 80s, why you so crazy? I have to say the substance abuse tangent got a bit more personal than I’d have expected. Good on you guys for opening up. I think the romance comics are rubbing off on you. Now, let’s all sit down with some decaffeinated and discuss the latest Nicholas Sparks novel.

    Ugh… I think just gagged myself with that one.

    Anyways, it’s interesting to get a glimpse of some of the stuff that DC was willing to give a shot to once upon a time. Would that more short lived series were at least given the chance to wrap up cleanly. The art style definitely adds to the daily newspaper strip vibe of the piece as a whole. And it’s a nice change to pace to have the shift in emphasis be something as simple as her wanting a guy who gets her rather than changing for the guy she or somebody else arbitrarily decided was the man for her. Progress! Plus shoulder pads. Oh, 80s!

  4. I tried the first issue of Angel Love but it was too quick a read, too insubstantial for me. The art was cute but again, it’s simplicity meant it didn’t hold my attention. Plus, the name ‘Angel Love’ – may as well called her ‘Romance Onthenose’.

    And the mix of real life and whimsy… I guess it just wasn’t my cup of twee.

    I also liked that DC used to do wrap-up specials. Didn’t Hawkman and Atom also get one?

    How about a show on femme fatales, Nocturna and Catwoman and Golden Age Harlequin and the like?

    1. Interesting idea! I think I can sell that to the boys.

      As for the on-the-nose title, turns out Angel Love didn’t focus all that strongly on romance. Marty was intrigued enough to chug the entire series and his book report was largely devoid of romance material.

  5. Dudes, I’m sorry I dismissed this show. I quite enjoyed the discussions of love in the 80s. It was still a little early for me to be doing anything, but I strongly remember the social mores and visual style of the era.

    And thank you for all for the candor regarding your dating and drug-fueled youth!

    As for the comic Angel Love, I recall its ads running in DC Comics at the time and being a little confused by the art style and the huge “COCAINE?!” word balloon. I was intrigued, but never saw it anywhere. Thanks for filling me in on it.

    Also, that Highlander lovemaking scene was magic.

  6. I didn’t buy the comic at the time but the ads were everywhere! I think the art style turned me off more than the apparent topics covered.

    As for the 80s, it sounds like Siskoid and I are about the same age. I was a nerdy teenager in the 80s. It was a decade of excess in the US and it was reflected in media. In movies, Michael Douglas was telling us ‘greed is good’. People were having sex and doing cocaine. Often at the same time. As a nerdy teenager, that seemed like a world that was omnipresent, seemingly normal, but also lightyears away.

    But there was also this concern about these behaviors, these messages of fear. And like Siskoid, I completely bought in. I say all the time that I was part of the ‘just say no’ generation. I wasn’t in a crowd where drugs were available at all. But I would have said no. And now I can honestly tell my kids that I have never done anything like that and I should expect the same from them.

    Glad you covered this as I have always wondered what it was like.

  7. Sorry to comment so late on this episode, but there’s a lot for me to unpack here and a second listen at home was required.

    Not only am I a child of the ’80s, but I’m still permanently scarred by the adolescent trials of said decade. Where normal people were traumatized by the likes of Psycho or Jaws, I never got over Casual Sex?, a mildly coitophobic rom-com starring Marty McFly’s mom, the former SNL “bimbo” turned rabid conservative with a ukulele, and The Diceman (“OH!”) I’d have still gotten killed at Camp Crystal Lake, but the immediate terror of Jason Vorhees would have simply replaced the ever-present fear of getting the Aids-I-Vee-Dees. Admittedly, I’d have happily risked parts of my anatomy rotting off for a night with forever crush Lea Thompson, but it’s not like I was getting swamped with offers of that sort, so STDread was just an additional excuse for my utter lack of POAocity*. I guess I’ll just watch Caroline In The City in first run and initial syndication instead (where I would unknowingly meet future crush Lauren Graham in a baton hand-off, which sounds like a euphemism but is merely a handy metaphor.)

    I ate up the John Hughes oeuvre back in the day, and I still love The Breakfast Club, but it’s hard to be anywhere near woke and not feel dirty over the raging middle class heterocentric whiteness of Weird Science and Sixteen Candles. It’s weird to think that the Porky’s films are in retrospect more progressive and aware. The Next Day specifically deals with racism, religious oppression, and political corruption. Pretty In Pink is about, um, how not having enough money or fashion sense can create problems with the upper class boy you ultimately sell out to be with? Remember when it was considered a loss to the arts when John Hughes retired from directing? Not so much, in hindsight.

    Satan scare was a real thing in the states, especially in the Bible Belt, and a staple topic for afternoon talk shows for a number of years. I should know, since I was always more interested in seeing those shows when they brought in Satan. It all went hand-in-hand with the pearl-clutching concern over heavy metal rap music, D&D, pornography, and overall fall of Western Civilization fear mongering bullshit that help stupid hateful assholes gain and maintain power. Ultimately, it was all fueled by urban legend and bad dreams from a viewing of The Exorcist that would have been easily dispelled in the early days of the internet and fueled by same if employed today thanks to plebs taking the reins for disinformation distribution.

    I was always fascinated by ads for Angel Love, and I mmmmaaaayyybbeee saw one in the wild new at a mall bookstore or in a quarter box in ’89, but if I did I opted out after giving it a toss. I like the platonic ideal of such a book existing, but the act of reading for myself holds little appeal. I just really don’t like Barbara Slate’s art or storytelling, which does feel painfully at odds with the content. Slate actually got around a bit at the big two publishers with other one-off and short-lived projects like Yuppies from Hell and Sweet XVI (Roman Empire teensploitation.) Another major problem with such a book is that it covers the same ground as lots of movies, TV shows and books, all of which were more accessible and probably more appealing to the intended audience. We like to blame publishers for not being diverse enough or trying a variety of formats in alternative outlets without appreciating all the novel failures and absent necessary infrastructure to begin realizing this pie-in-the-sky bullshit. My sisters used to buy magazines that published song lyrics in the ’80s

    I never knowingly tried anything but pot, though I’ve had more adventurous friends and lovers speak well of nose candy. It’s a great way to temporarily boost your self esteem and really keeps the weight off. Coke is relatively easy to kick physiologically, but then you have to start living life like normal people, which is one hell of a comedown. One ex-cokehead I knew swoll up to a mini-Kingpin (including bald to the skin head) who sweat constantly at rest and had serious heart problems at a relatively young age. I haven’t heard anything from him in a dozen years, and figure he’s probably dead or disabled by now. Coke is a real “burns twice as bright for half as long” kind of deal, whereas meth-heads are more like a zombie horde shambling along in undeath. I don’t envy either. I ultimately didn’t have much use for pot either, which like Siskoid hurt my romantic prospects. I recall one cute stoner chick who expressed initial interest in me, but my straight edge leanings turned her off, and she ended up dating a burnout co-worker of mine. Then he hooked up with a live-in whose violent mood swings were not curbed by weed, and she kicked the shit out of him a fair few times. Tangent! Moral of the story is that Nancy & Ronald Reagan both cockblocked me for life in many ways. Despite addiction running through my family and I myself having an addictive personality, I’ve managed to channel those inclinations toward the most insular and inoffensive directions possible, like comic books. Hoo-ray.

    I’m a big fan of the entire female masturbation subgenre of pop music. I even bought Jeanette Katt’s Pink Mischief on CD, which is a lousy album, just for the track “Girl Noise” that got limited radio play back in ’92.

    Enjoyed pulling the pin on the not-Bass grenade and tossing it into the clubhouse. I’m afraid a Beast Wars Podcast would be less of a concern to me than to Rob Kelly, who at least would have to host the damned thing on his network. And I really enjoyed Bass’ views on Martian Manhunter for the FW Presents St. Patty’s special, which will likely come up when the Idol-Head returns in May (or so. It’s a Martian Manhunter podcast. Who’s waiting with baited breath for such a thing to arrive on a regular schedule?)

    * I’d like to point out that I actually saw The Pick-Up Artist during it’s theatrical run (admittedly at the dollar show,) a last flickering ember of the Brat Pack era with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr. Now let’s start on that campaign to cast her as Crimson Cowl.

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