Romance comics is a comics genre depicting strong and close romantic love and its attendant complications such as jealousy, marriage, divorce, betrayal, and heartache. The term is generally associated with an American comic books genre published through the first three decades of the Cold War (1947–1977). Romance comics of the period typically featured dramatic scripts about the love lives of older high school teens and young adults, with accompanying artwork depicting an urban or rural America contemporaneous with publication.
The origins of romance comics lie in the years immediately following World War II when adult comics readership increased and superheroes were dismissed as passé. Influenced by the pulps, radio soap operas, newspaper comic strips such as Mary Worth, and adult confession magazines, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created the flagship romance comic book Young Romance and launched it in 1947 to resounding success. By the early 1950s, dozens of romance titles from major comics publishers were on the newsstands and drug store racks. Young Romance, Young Love and their imitators differed from the earlier teen humor comics in that they aspired to realism, using first-person narration to create the illusion of verisimilitude, a changing cast of characters in self-contained stories, and heroines in their late teens or early twenties who were closer to the target audience in age than teen humor characters.With the implementation of the Comics Code in 1954, romance comics publishers self-censored any material that might be interpreted as controversial and opted to play it safe with stories focusing on traditional patriarchal concepts of female behavior, gender roles, love, sex, and marriage. The genre fell into decline and disrepute during the sexual revolution, and the genre's Golden Age came to an end when Young Romance and its companion Simon and Kirby title Young Love ceased publication in 1975 and 1977, respectively.
In the new millennium, a few publishers flirted with the genre in various ways, including manga-styled romance comics based on Harlequin novels and Golden Age classics revamped with snarky dialogue.
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