joy magnetism: Heart of a Woman

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Heart of a Woman

Magnet #476 - Heart of a Woman, Harlequin

Gasp! I know!

I'm actually doing a magnetpost on Harlequin romance, using a magnet that I made. Whoa.

Anyone who knows me knows my long-standing frustration with Harlequin series relying on the salesability of formulaic brides, babies and cowboys stories.

So. What am I doing? I'm giving credit where credit is due.

In honor of their 60th Anniversary, the Harlequin folks put on cover art retrospective downtown. It was a small exhibit, at OpenHouse Gallery, but I really enjoyed it. I'm only sorry I went on the last day, I probably would have gone back again to spend more time reading the copy that went with all the art.

It was well put together, wonderfully thought out and designed, and the copy was just terrific. It was like reading good cover copy, in fact, it was actually better than some cover copy I've seen running around. They went chronologically, managing to artfully map out a great timeline that was representative of the history of the genre allowing the artwork to mirror our country's history, as well as (ironically) the feminist movement. From their early gritty suspense novels written by men, to the soft-spoken quiet novels of deep, abiding love, from the damsels in distress to women in the workplace, and from the doctors and nurses, to the Fabio historicals, it was pretty damn cool.

See? I can be complimentary.

Though, I did have a couple of issues with the exhibit:

They really concentrated on the cover art, the full paintings...but they didn't pair up the paintings with the actual cover of the book to give it context. It probably would have been a pain to pull each book, but it would have been nice to see the cover design evolution as well.

They concentrated only on the Harlequin books, not any of the Silhouettes, that I could tell. Though maybe that's because I couldn't see the cover design that I didn't know which series the art belonged to.

And finally, they held it in New York City. In SoHo, no less. Really. How much of their demographic lives here, and what tourists can easily find it, without having to go off the beaten tourist path? Honestly, I might have thought twice about going, were it not for the lure of Rice to Riches on the next block. I'm just sayin'.But overall, it really was a great exhibit.

Well done, Harlequin.

Though, to be fair, even with my publisher issues, I will admit to growing up reading Harlequins and Silhouettes, all the way back to their Silhouette YA line. They really do have some fantastic writers who can tell really good stories. In fact, I have a stack of them at home that are double-starred on the spines as ones to keep and never give away.

There's the Intimate Moments set in Hawaii, where the Chase (who looked like Robert Fox from Falcon Crest) fell in love with the dancer when she did the Hawaiian dance for Pele, the volcano goddess. It's also where I saw the S-word for the first time in print. (So upsetting, it was!)

There's the Intimate Moments that I managed to do a 10th grade book report on (to the surprise of my teacher, when she learned it was a romance). The hero was Grant Sullivan, and he and the heroine (no one ever remembers heroine names - hehe) are traipsing through the jungles of South America, trying to get to safety.

There's the Harlequin Presents with the chick who had an accident and went blind, and had to go to a special clinic to learn how to be blind, and she fell in love with her doctor.

There's the Harlequin Presents with the nanny who went to live in the big mansion to take care of the two little kids, and their father, who fell deeply in love with her, despite her shady past.

There's the American Romance about Corey, the race driver, who gets hit by the heroine who was hazily under the influence of expired cough syrup. Of course they fell in love...even though she was scared to death each time he raced.

Mind you, I think it's quite funny that I can't remember a single Silhouette Desire (the direct competitor to my Loveswepts) cover. I know I read them. I must have.

But no matter what, with each paragraph I just typed above, 20 years later, I can clearly see the cover art of each book in my head, even if I don't remember the titles or the authors.

Which all just goes to show the true power of great cover art.

Oh! I forgot! Pictures from the exhibit.
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Vicki said...

popusI actually would have enjoyed seeing this. Even though it was designed by some very mean people who are crazy obsessed with Debbie Macomber. :)

Vicki said...

Are you wondering what that first word in my post above is? Let's just say I can't read your verification words very well. Silly.

joy said...

Hahahaah - I totally wondered what the heck you were trying to spell there. Heh, thanks for the clarification.