In February 1977, Fleetway released two new titles. One was 2000AD, still going strong today, but artist David Roach reminds us that the other was New Mirabelle – a radical re-launch of one of the UK’s first and longest-running romance comics which was, sadly, absorbed by PINK before the year ended.
Mirabelle (“Page after Page of All-Picture Romance”) was first published in 1956, incorporating rivals New Glamour in 1958, Marty in 1963, and Valentine from 16th November 1974. It became New Mirabelle from 19th February 1977, lasting for for 1009 issues from its original launch in 1956 until it merged with Pink in October 1977.
In the mid 1970s, the title – one of several picture romance titles whose strips were often inspired by the titles of popular songs – was primarily a features and pop star posters type of a magazine with only a few short strips in each issue. By comparison New Mirabelle was all strips with a fair number of science fiction and horror styled strips, as well as some surprisingly risqué artwork.
Artists included Esteban Maroto, Jose Canovas, Miguel Fuster, Santiago Hernandez, Mario Capaldi (of Misty fame), Maria Barrera Gesali, Jorge Badia Romero, Rafael Busom, Josep Gual and Purita Campos among others.
The revamped title featured strips such as “The Poison Valentine” and “L for Leather” (the latter almost akin to Confessions of a Driving Instructor), but also featured a quite extraordinary strip – “A Song For Andrella”, a story perhaps better suited to the pages of 2000AD. We’ve included some sample pages below, courtesy artist and girls comics archivist, David Roach.
Early episodes of “A Song For Andrella” were provided by Horacio Lalia, who in himself was a very unusual choice for a girls comic artist. “Lalia was one of the key early artists in the development of Action, 2000AD and Starlord,” David notes, “and in fact had drawn a prototype ‘Judge Dredd’ strip (with a horror theme) – but a girls’ comic artist? Never before or since, as far as I know.
“The strip itself is a really gritty post apocalyptic love story- of sorts. With Lalia at his grittiest best and I can’t help feeling it would have been more at home in 2000AD.”
Although the title didn’t survive long after its revamp (Misty, another fondly-remembered girls title with similar themes launched in 1978, for example, had more success), the Hunger Games-style story perhaps ahead of its time, it’s fascinating to look back on this experimental title and wonder what might have been, had it survived to this day, just like its boys comic rival, 2000AD.
Special thanks to David Roach for his help with this item.
• Horacio Lalia’s Official Site (in Spanish): www.laproductora.ahiros.com.ar/lalia/
Art © IPC