Obscurity of the Day: Famous Love Romances

The 1920s may have been ‘roaring’, but even in those days of flappers, bathtub gin and loose morals, there were limits. Famous Love Romances unwisely exceeded those limits and was thus doomed to appear on very few comics pages.

McClure Syndicate marketed this closed-end series as a sort of Valentine’s Day tie-in. Each week’s worth of strips told the story of a great romance from history and the final week of strips, at least in the initial release, was timed to run the week before Valentine’s Day of 1928. There were 11 weeks worth of strips, all beautifully drawn by the gifted Nicholas Afonsky, and penned by an uncredited writer. The idea was charming and probably would have been far more successful if the writer had chosen the subjects a little more wisely.

While some of the stories were just fine (George and Martha Washington, for instance), our unknown writer inexplicably decided to celebrate some romances of a decidedly unsavory sort. For instance, our samples today tell a portion of the story of Napoleon and his mistress the Countess Walewska, and another week of strips tells of Henry II and his mistress Rosamund. Hardly the type of relationships we think of to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Most newspaper editors wisely passed on the series, but a few papers actually ran this ode to infidelity. I can only imagine the letters they must have received from irate readers.

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