By Paul Kupperberg
There’s nothing quite like the moment when contributors copies of the hot off the press newest project you’ve worked on arrive at your door. The box or package is opened and out spill copies of the work, all brand new and shiny. Often, this is the first time I’ve seen the finished story or book. Just the other day, the surprise in the package were copies of Archie Loves Betty and Veronica Mad Libs, a project I wrote over a year ago. And just as good as finally getting to see the finished piece was the fact that the book carries my byline. Mad Libs do not, as a rule, run writer’s credit. Instead, the cover and title page usually just read “Concept created by Roger Price & Leonard Stern,” but at the insistence of the licensor, my pals and gals at Archie Comics, I was given the rare Mad Libs title page byline.
Not that my name hasn’t been on enough publications that one more or less was going to make a difference. It’s appeared in plenty of credit boxes, book and comic book covers, tables of content, title pages, and in footnotes and endnotes of comics history and reference books.
Anyway, a couple of days after the arrival of the Mad Libs, Mort Todd sent me a PDF of the first issue of an upcoming Neo title for proofreading that elevated my name to a place it had never been. That I never expected it to wind up. Not just above the title...but actually a part of the title. As in Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances. Like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” or “Stan Lee Presents”...only, you know, not.
While it’s definitely a massage to the ego having your name in the title, it’s also a little embarrassing. And, in the case of Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romances, not my idea. My working title for the project had been Postmodern Love Stories, which was how I pitched it--beginning in 2011, pre-Charlton Neo--to whatever comic book publishers I could reach out to. Those that bothered to respond praised the material but passed on the book because, as they all said, “romance comics don’t sell.” Of course they don’t; you can’t sell what isn’t being published.
But logic being what it is to those who have already made up their minds, Postmodern Love Stories made the rounds, after which it kind of just lay there, not forgotten but going nowhere. Until mid-2014, when it suddenly became apparent to me that I finally had access to an editor who might be open to my proposal: me!
Well, Charlton Neo, to be exact. I pitched Postmodern Love, Neo said yes, and my orphaned project finally had a home. The ideal home. The original Charlton Comics had been a prolific publisher of romance titles and, like the other genres that modern mainstream comics has seen fit to ignore in favor of all-superheroes, all the time, Charlton Neo believes in comics without capes to add flavor to the otherwise homogenous stew of bulging biceps and colorful costumes.
It was Mort’s idea that we change the title to connect the comic to its Classic Charlton roots. I ran the list of Charlton romance titles and Secret Romance seemed to be the best fit. Mort also thought it would be a good idea to add my name to the title, purely, as I recall, as a marketing move. We were having these discussions mid-year, during the height of the media attention I was receiving for having written “The Death of Archie,” so exploiting my name seemed to make sense at the time, I suppose. Whatever...it got me a comic book with my name in the title.
And, no, the title doesn’t mean that these are tales of my own romances, secret or otherwise (well, with the exception of an incident that ended up being used as a springboard for one of the stories), just good old fashioned love stories with a nod towards 21st century realities. And snark. A lot of snark. I mean, have you met me?!
It’s not out of line, nor without some poetic symmetry, to say that getting Secret Romances to publication has been a labor of love, and wouldn’t have been possible without the aid and abetment of a whole lot of talented and generous people, beginning with artists Pat and Tim Kennedy, who penciled three stories for the proposal, and scrivener extraordinaire Jack Morelli who lettered two of the above. But I’ll go into more depth on the ladies and gentlemen who brought my scripts to reality in the next go-round on this here blog.
Paul Kupperberg's Secret Romances #1
by Paul Kupperberg, Pat and Tim Kennedy, P.D. Angel Gabriele, Daerick Gross Sr., Rob Kelly, Jeff Austin, Bob Smith, Jack Morelli, Matt Webb, and Mort Todd.
Cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Available February 1, 2015...receive your copy by Valentine's Day!
"Happily Ever After" Ain't What it Used to Be!
© Paul Kupperberg