No more trembling kisses, yearning embraces or (sob) hearts that go flip-flop in the night.
No more perfect pointy breasts, pliable lips and tiny tears hovering under ruggedly handsome men with inky black hair who drive sports cars (always convertibles). No more men who know the two most important words in the history of the English language to be "I do."
Now they're "why not?" and (sniff) the end of romance.
Suddenly, without warning, those schmaltzy, tacky teen'confession rags known as "love comics" are gone forever - relics of another age. An age of innocence when the word "ball" meant a party in a large room and girls wrote in diaries and drank Coke.
No one can remember when the first love/romance comic was published (sometime in the late 1940s), but the last was in July of this year. It was "Young Love" published by DC comics. Charlton comics published its last issue of "For Lovers Only" in September 1976 and Marvel stopped publishing its love titles "a few years ago" according to writer/artist Stan Lee, Marvel's president.
"It was purely economic," said Lee. "They weren't selling. There was a period of time (the 1950s) when romance comics were our best selling books. But the comic book business is a strange one. It goes in cycles. Right now superhoeroes are big."
Mike Gold, spokesman for DC comics, said they stopped publishing love comics "for a number of reasons."
"We weren't particularly proud of the romance comics we were publishing. They dealt with stereotypes. They became less popular because readers had less to relate to."
A pregnant pause. "I guess you could say it's the end of romance."
Charlton Comics, which once published twelve romance titles (including "Just Married," "Love Diary," "Secret Romance," "Teen Confessions" and "Career Girl Romances") stopped publishing comics altogether in September 1976.
In April of this year they resumed publication - minus the love titles. "We found the horror comics exceeded in sales. We decided to drop the romance," said managing editor George Wildman.
"They started dropping off around the late Sixties, early Seventies. They were probably too goody-goody, and turned today's kids off. Our books might have been too fantasy."
But Wildman says he's still getting mail. In fact, the love comics generated more mail than any other titles, mostly from heartbroken twelve-year-old girls. Girls who sat around in quilted bathrobes and pink spongy rollers waiting for the Princess phone to ring. Girls who now console themselves with Mary Hartman and gothic novels.
"We had a psychiatrist to answer the questions," says Wildman. "We even had a few pregnant thirteen-year-olds."
There was nothing portrayed in romance comics that hads anything to do with real life - or real romance. No pills. No pimples. No petting. And most important - no sex.
"When the Comics Code of Authority was enacted in the early Fifties, they dictated the rules," said John Verpoorten, production manager for Marvel. "Kissing was only allowed in an upright position. We were told if hemlines were too short, or necklines too low. You just can't do contemporary romance. Our plots were all lited from old Betty Grable movies."
Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy but spends the next three pages worrying, waiting by the phone and taking long walks in the woods (no muggers, of course) just BEING IN LOVE. She lies in bed at night imagining all the things they could od together. Innocent things like boating, ice skating and kissing in an upright position.
Boy realizes he's in love and pops the question, after the required spin in the convertible. It helps if boy has a reason for the delay. Favorite delays are sick parents/no money/car trouble.
"It was strictly an Archie Andrews existence," says Verpoorten. "As far removed from real life as Donald Duck."
Love comics were fantasies twice over: G-rated fairy tales for teenage girls rooted in the X-rated dreams of the men who wrote them.
"I don't think our stories were terribly chauvinistic," said Stan Lee. "Well, maybe that was a reason they weren't selling. I hadn't thought of that."
Most of Marvel's love comics were written and illustrated by men, with a few exceptions. All of Charlton's were. Toward the end, DC had a woman publisher but the stories were still stereotyped reinformcements of the woman as a sex/love object. If they did have careers, they were safe, traditional feminine ones - stewardesses, secretaries, nurses and models. Nothing threatening.
There was a slight attempt to update the story lines, but the results were disastrous.
"Toward the end our competition started mixing black and white, inter racial romances," said Wildman. "The most relevant thing we got into was acne."
The last issue of "Young Love" includes a heartbreaker called "CB Romance" and features a love-starved waitress dying to drive the big rigs. She falls in love over the CB radio with a man she's never seen. Now that's romance. He turns out to be a ruggedly handsome truck driver who is (gasp) divorced.
In "I Won't Kiss That Evil Way" the young heroine yearns for the shy suitor who won't put his nasty tongue in her mouth. The funny part is, she finds him.
"Maybe it's television," says Sol Harrison, president of DC comics. "Youngster today are more sophisticated."
Stan Lee agrees. "I will admit somebody could put out a comic book, a romance book that was sexy and it would sell. But it wouldn't be under the Comic Code."
Somebody has. In 1970 Bill Griffith, a 32-year-old California cartoonist, along with Jay Kinney, published the first issue of "Young Lust" - an irreverent, X-rated satire in the love comic genre.
"It was definitely a parody of 'Young Love.' We sent DC comics a copy, but we never had any response," said Griffith. "But we heard through the grapevine that the artists were jealous. They would like to be doing what we do." Currently, there are four issues of "Young Lust," published without benefit of the Comics Code seal.
"I have to confess," said Griffith. "I did read a few of the old love comics. Listen, when I was a kid they were hot stuff. We didn't have Hustler then."
What we had (choke) was romance.