The 'Love Is' couple in a typical pose. Artist: Bill Asprey.


Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Los Angeles Times Syndicate
First Appeared: 1970
Creator: Kim Grove Casali
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Love Is …, which is without a doubt the quintessential daily panel about romantic feelings between men and women, had its origin in a real-life love story. Kim Grove, who had never before thought of …

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… herself as a cartoonist, met Roberto Casali in 1967, and they were soon exchanging love notes. Hers contained drawings, or what she characterized as "doodles", of what she called a "blob of a girl" to represent herself and a "blob of a boy" for Roberto.

Little did Kim know, her enamorata was sharing their communication — or at least, the illustrations to it — with his friends and, more importantly, with The Los Angeles Times. This led eventually to world-wide fame, as that paper's syndicate began distributing it on Jan. 5, 1970. The merchandising began almost immediately, and by 1971, when Kim and Roberto were married, the two characters, who don't have names, were on enough T-shirts, coffee mugs, stationery, etc. to rival Smiley Face himself. They created a corporation, Minikim, to manage the property.

The panel consists of its title, in large type, followed by an illustration of one or both of the protagonists (who don't wear clothing, but also don't have anatomical features), possibly with their two children (who can be depicted at any age prior to puberty), and finally the punchline, telling exactly what constitutes love on this particular day. For about 20 years, it had a multi-panel Sunday version.

Bill Asprey, a successful British cartoonist whose credits include Aphrodite and Big Friendly Giant, came on as assistant in 1975. His job is to provide the illustration, while Kim Casali continued to write the final line until her death in 1997. Since then, the Casalis' oldest son, Stefano, has done the writing, with Asprey continuing to draw it.

The panel's popularity has gone down some since its early days, but it still retains a strong following. Its current syndicate, Tribune Media Services (Broom Hilda, Shoe) distributes it to about 100 papers worldwide, in several different languages, and millions of people maintain warm feelings toward it.


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Text ©2006-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Minikim.