Jan 11 2012: Twenty-One Cover Illustrations from Romeo Teen Weekly (1970 – 1971)
I don’t know much about Romeo, a comic format weekly magazine published by D.C. Thompson that features a variety of love stories (basically, think Mills & Boon, but aimed very much at teenage girls), letters and problem pages, adverts, comic strips and a few bits of pop music news (these include some unlikely inclusions from a present day perspective, featuring items and snippets on Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay and Linda Hoyle’s Affinity alongside the inevitable Marc Bolan and Moody Blues). The issues seen here are all from the period 1970 – 1971, so it might be that Romeo was a short-lived title, or it may just be a case of these being the only copies I’ve happened to see [note: I’m informed that Romeo was actually founded in 1957, so not so short-lived after all!]. Either way, if anyone has more detail about the artists behind the rather captivating period cover illustrations reproduced here I’d be interested in hearing more. The covers themselves are very much of their moment, appealingly kitsch in a similar manner to Gisela Gottschlich’s work on her edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and fine examples of the Art Nouveau line-work and candy-coloured sixties sentiment that was here clearly well into its ‘mannerist’ mass-cultural phase. Graphics like these had long since left the underground behind, had already been filtered through the fashion graphics built around Barbara Hulanicki’s Biba, and were now pretty much fully absorbed into the commercial mainstream, on the edge of becoming both ubiquitous and unfashionable in their turn. Despite their almost entirely derivative nature, they still often manage to attain a paradoxical ‘off the peg’ distinctiveness, of sorts. Besides, it’s often precisely this kind of highly derivative work that, over time, comes to most accurately reflect its own period.