In both sci-fi and fantasy and comics there is a long history of allegorical and implied queerness—using the trappings of genre to code characters and themes as queer while keeping them superficially straight enough to not make waves, or queering them in ways tied to their general otherness (like gender-flexible shapeshifters or gay aliens from single-sex species). Queer representation is better now than it was in even the recent past, but we want more. We want to see people like us as heroes—slaying dragons, piloting spaceships, getting into trouble, and saving the day—without having to read their queerness from between the lines. We want to see beautifully crafted stories in the mediums and genres we love, that reflect and celebrate our own experiences of gender and sexuality. So we’ve decided to do it ourselves. We’re assembling, crowdfunding, and publishing an anthology of the comics we want to read: science fiction and fantasy exploring and showcasing queer characters, themes, and relationships, from a broad spectrum of world-class creators. Beyond is a black-and-white comic anthology of 18 original science fiction and fantasy comics. The first volume was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter and completed in 2015, and the second volume: post-apocalypse and urban fantasy edition is taking shape in 2016. -Sfé Monster, Editor
(Volume 2 reached funding today, 5/11/17!)
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Boy, I Love You is a comics anthology celebrating the boys' love genre. Seven stories from seven creators will introduce you to radio hosts, models, mecha pilots, & scientists, and the challenges they’ll face at the intersection of life & love. Boy, I Love You features the work of Aatmaja Pandya, Kou Chen, Shivana Sookdeo, Emily Forster, Marlena Konglau, Eric Alexander Arroyo, and S.M. Vidaurri, with a cover by Caelin Cacciatore.
A different take on those who get fluffy under a full moon. This is a collection of goofy, cute, and sweet werewolf stories. A black and white, 160 page book of comics. It includes work by:
Cover art by Melanie Ujimori
Werewolf stories tend to be about men turning into wolves and smashing things, which is all well and good, but it's nice to explore the soft underbelly of the myth every now and again. In CAN I PET YOUR WEREWOLF, Kel McDonald has collected a group of stories that range from teenage were-girls bonding with their mothers to a werewolf who transforms into a human when he comes out as gay.
As with most werewolf/shifter stories, several of these examine themes of transformation, acceptance, and found family. There are a few, however, that are purely fun. In one memorable example, a young woman is trying to help her partner figure out how to stop waking up naked and streaking home. They come up with a backpack solution. It's cute.
This is a light-hearted anthology that balances humor and love with some of the darker elements of traditional werewolf stories. While I didn't love every story in the book, it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and I suggest picking it up for a not-too-spooky full moon read.
Now that the Kickstarter is over and Vol. 1 has gone to print again, you can pick up Volume 1 and 2 in both print and digital. Buy 'em all here!
Dates is an anthology of queer historical fiction comics, Kickstarted in September and October of 2015 and published by Margins Publishing in February of 2016. When we started work on Dates, we wanted to create a book that showcases queer characters and experiences throughout the ages without being constrained by what a lot of media might have us believe is “historically accurate.” Since so much of historical fiction only features queer characters in the context of tragedy–if they appear at all–we were desperate for more stories. Stories that better represented the diversity of our experiences, in all the times and places that we’ve existed. Dates is a book that doesn’t rewrite history, but instead reframes it so that the spotlight is on people who are all too often ignored.In the first volume of Dates, we had three rules:
Though our length requirement has changed, rules 1 and 3 are as central to Dates as they were when we launched the first book.
(Dates 2 is now through the Kickstarter process, you can see the campaign here.)
Review based on Dates 1:
Cravats. Latin. Rope-walking. Androgyny. Pirates. Girls in gowns running away together. Boys and boys and girls and girls and people who don't identify any particular way... This book is hard to review because not only is it an anthology, the stories within span thousands of years of history, continents, empires, cultures... it's impossible to pin down. This is a good thing if you want short, sweet stories of love and adventure.
As with any anthology, if you're looking for a longer, cohesive narrative, this isn't the book for you. If you want something you can pick up and read for a bit? It's perfect. With 25 tales, the art and plots are as diverse as you'd expect. You won't love every piece, but I think you'd have to be a true curmudgeon not to find a few you like. As for queer rep? Lots of relationships and orientations are represented, and some of the characters are never "defined," which is as it should be.
Short review because the title says it all: Dates is an anthology of queer historical fiction. If that sounds like something you'd like, you should pick this up.
Read about Dates II here!
Fresh Romance, Vol. 1:
FRESH ROMANCE is an exciting collection of romance comics from some of comics' most talented creators, including Kate Leth, Arielle Jovellanos, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sarah Kuhn, Marguerite Bennett, and Trungles. From unhappy historical marriages to covert teenage romances, there's something for everyone in FRESH ROMANCE.
Fresh Romance, Vol. 2:
FRESH ROMANCE VOLUME 2 is an exciting collection of romance comics from some of comics' most talented creators, including Cecil Castellucci, Irene Koh, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sally Jane Thompson, Suzana Harcum & Owen White, and Julia Hutchinson. From testing new relationships to romances spanning decades, there's something for everyone in FRESH ROMANCE!
Suzanne's post from July 2016, originally posted at Heroes & Heartbreakers is below. Rosy Press's content was acquired by Emet Comics, who published the second volume of Fresh Romance.
Sometimes I get tired of reading novels (OMG did she just say that?!) and I flip on the latest episode of Jane the Virgin. And sometimes… I read comics. Okay, a lot of the time. I’m in a comics-for-ladies monthly discussion group called The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen. It’s a real thing and it’s amazing.
So I’m maybe a little biased toward the graphic novel/comic medium.I love the way that a talented writing and art team can reveal character traits and plot points with such subtlety that you don’t pick up on it. While there’s still a lot of “cheesecake” (women drawn with an abundance of T&A and little clothing) in some comics, a great number of female-forward comics are being published and gaining popularity. Examples include: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Saga, Sex Criminals, and of course, Buffy.
You probably want to know why I’m writing about comics on a romance site. Loads of comics have romance B-plots, but none of them have been 100% romance focused since the 70s. (Saga has an awesome star-crossed lovers in space with a baby thing going, but the romance isn’t always at the fore.)
Allow me to introduce Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance, a bimonthly comic featuring 3 10-page stories in each issue. These have been serialized up until now but are available in completed versions on their website and will be printed and available at a comic store near you (or online) on August 10. The stories are diverse in terms of setting, sexual orientation, and racial makeup.I’ve read the first three stories and loved them. There will be 5 in all in the print edition, but you can get them now digitally if you’d like.
High school kids involved in some hijinks. I wasn’t sure at first what was going on, but it’s intentionally written that way and it’s very cute. The characters are hiding their relationships for different reasons, mainly family judgments. Subtle exploration of the ways we might be biased against certain relationships while accepting those others might shun. Plus, boys who say things like “Dude. The reason you don’t have a prom date is because you talk about girls like that.” No stilted dialogue, and such good messaging.
Ruined by Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle & Ryan FerrierDo you read historicals set in England? The title of this one ought to tell you enough. The credits list a “historical consultant.” You guys, just read it. It’s got scandal, an unfortunate? marriage, and of course, the romance.
The Ruby Equation
Adorable cupid/fairy uses math/logic to match people to earn her way back to her homeworld and a “better” assignment. Hijinks ensue. Will Ruby realize her true calling and the value of love?
Here’s the copy from the Kickstarter for the print edition:
I’m sure some of you will tell me in the comments about the extensive range romance-focused manga out there. PLEASE DO. I haven’t started on manga because it’s intimidating. If you’re feeling that way about comics, Fresh Romance is a great place to start!
Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is an exciting new collection of gothic romance comics.In 1950s Vietnam, a lost soul comes to the aid of a farmer’s field under attack.In Victorian Boston, a new governess comes to care for the rogueish widower of a stately manor and his charming brood of children.A fashion journalist lands the interview of her dreams – but it unearths deadly secrets of Taiwan’s most popular fashion designer.A Sioux elder heals a recently deceased woman who sets out to recover her lost love. And a young bride spins a story of murder and deceit that paints her husband as a killer . . . but is there any truth to her tale?Featuring 19 original stories from some of modern comics’ finest talent, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love collects fragments of lovers torn apart, ghostly revenge, and horrific deeds, in the vein of 1970s gothic romance comics such as Haunted Love, Ghostly Tales, Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, and Gothic Romances. Discover a diverse range of heroes and villains, spirits and monsters, in a modern reimagining that will leave your heart pounding and broken in the same seductive breath. Contributors and stories include:
Gothic Tales of Haunted Love was one of my most anticipated titles of 2018. I backed it on Kickstarter and was enchanted by the images I saw in preview. You can read the launch post here. All of this is to say that I suspect my expectations were set too high and somewhat unrealistically. The resulting anthology is a solid piece of work, filled with beautiful gothic paintings and some creative twists on gothic stories of old.
It's also not romance. The love in these stories is that of a fleeting encounter with a phantom; a powerful need to protect children from an abusive father; a war-time show of brotherhood (or more). There are a few HEAs, but it's probably better to approach this anthology as an experiment in trope subversion than as a romance anthology. Heroes and heroines come from varying sexual orientations and racial and ethnic backgrounds and occupy space in different time periods and locations. There's certainly a gothic element to each story, something spooky or unexplainable or just plain terrifying, but I'm not sure the volume as a whole is cohesive.
I will say that, given the current political climate, it was immensely satisfying to see a female serial killer take out her romantic competition before realizing that it was the man she desired who was the true obstacle to her happiness. Whatever it takes to keep those kids safe and happy, right?
Overall, I found myself visually drawn to the paintings and to several of the comics. My heart, however, was most engaged by the foreword written by Jacque Nodell, who runs the vintage romance comics site, Sequential Crush. She walks us through the history of gothic romance comics and how they changed to be less romantic and more of a horror genre. It's a fascinating piece of comics history.
POWER & MAGIC: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology collects fifteen original comics about queer witches of color as they master their abilities, discover their traditions, and navigate love as beings with incredible power. This edition of POWER & MAGIC is 178 pages, black and white, and features the work of 17 women, demigirls, and bigender creators of color. From the euphoria of holding the stars in your grasp, to the sacrifices we make to reach them, POWER & MAGIC explores what it means to be a person of power in all its complexity.
The second volume of Power & Magic is funding on Kickstarter right now (7/14/17) and the first volume just won a PRISM Award. Since I've had the PDF on my iPad for a few weeks, I figured it was time to give it a read. It's... wow.
What you get for your $10 (digital) is 15 stories about queer witches of color, some more magical than others, all of them accessible and engaging and evocative. I don't know if I've ever truly liked every story in an anthology before this one, and that alone makes this volume a stand-out. Lest this turn into an incoherent episode of fan-girling, I'm going to bullet this out:
In short, it's obvious why this beautiful, inspiring, comforting, heart-achingly real yet magical anthology won an award. I can't wait to read the second.
2012 Edition: Smut Peddler started back in 2003 as a series of dirty little minicomics featuring some of the coolest folks in indie comics. Now, it's back as a full-sized anthology, featuring 24 different stories of love, sex, and a little bit of angst by a huge array of talented creators.
This book offers something for everyone, showcasing a whole rainbow of relationships, sexualities, and genders, plus the occasional robot, satyr, shapeshifter, or major religious figure.
2014 Edition: Smut Peddler, the big, dirty book that rocked the world in 2012, is back with more and better than ever! The 2014 edition of this award-winning ladycentric porn anthology features a dream team of artists and writers, an all-star cast of creators premiering the finest filth you’re gonna find.
This isn't a porn or erotica review site, but these comics are SO GOOD I had to include them. Iron Circus says they're "by women, for everyone" and I agree. They feature a full array of relationships, bodies, situations, and art styles. Consent is present and enthusiastic. Much (not necessarily all) of the sex occurs inside a trusting relationship, with the romance that you'd expect. There are stories about couples who've been together for years, and couples who are just meeting. As with any anthology, you'll find some more to your liking than others, but these books are massive, so you're sure to find just what you want.
ADULTS ONLY My Monster Boyfriend brings three new elements to the Smut Peddler series: full color, longer stories, and a focus on not-exactly-human men! We're offering ten tales of fantastic fornication, written and illustrated by some of the most talented women in comics.
Hold on. It's about to get weird.
Four stories of love and lust from comics' coolest artists and writer ALEX DE CAMPI! First, a demon who prowls the 1978 New York disco scene in Old Flames, drawn by KATIE SKELLY. Then, a curvy photographer's assistant who falls in love with someone way out of her league in Twinkle & The Star, with ALEJANDRA GUTIÉRREZ. A spacefleet captain who captures a most infuriating pirate in Invincible Heart, with CARLA SPEED MCNEIL. And a princess who runs away with a dragon in Treasured, with TRUNGLES.
Plus steamy prose romance stories from awesome folks like Magen Cubed and Vita Ayala, and more comics shorts about love from Meredith McClaren, Sarah Horrocks, Margaret Trauth and Sarah Winifred Searle.
Collects Twisted Romance #1-4.