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!)
The copy LiP reviewed is a backer reward from the Bingo Love Kickstarter campaign in Spring 2017. Since then, Image Comics picked up the book for wide distribution and it will be in stores for Valentine's Day 2018!
Pre-Order from your local comic shop!
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.
From TEE FRANKLIN (NAILBITER’s “THE OUTFIT,” Love is Love) and JENN ST-ONGE (Jem & the Misfits), BINGO LOVE is a touching story of love, family, and resiliency that spans over 60 years.
BINGO LOVE is the heartwarming, second-chance, family-centered romance I hoped it would be. It's just under 100 pages, but the story spans over 70 years, from the time the two protagonists (Hazel and Mari) are young teens to their last breaths. It's effortlessly inclusive and tells us just enough about the secondary characters to have me impatiently waiting for the promised digital shorts that will follow.
In addition to a central romance that made me cry three times (it's so sweet! that's so unfair! they're getting the happiness they deserve!), the comic is full of the little gems that I love to find in comics, like repeated panels. One such panel is of the Hazel and Mari's linked pinkies. We see it when they're first friends, when they get together, when they're reunited, when they're older and watching their grandbabies. *swoon* Each time, their hands are slightly different, slightly older. It's a thoughtful touch that strings the narrative together nicely.
St. Onge did a fabulous job with the art, moving the characters and their settings through the decades with subtle and not-so-subtle details. Outfits, furniture, and color palettes change, but so do the characters' physical appearances. They gain wrinkles and freckles. Their hairstyles and colors change. When we see the future? There are technological advances that I won't share due to spoilers. You'll have to read to see them.
Though some of the dialogue is a little on-the-nose, it felt like a realistic depiction of the ways in which queer relationships were (and still are) treated by a lot of people. Centering the narrative on a church bingo game brings the religious message to the fore early on and highlights the ways in which communities have changed as time passes. We see Hazel's children examining their preconceived notions about their mother and her happiness, and it's a beautiful thing.
TL;DR - This comic is exactly what I hoped for when I heard about two grandmothers of color getting a second chance at the love of a lifetime. It's cute and sad and endlessly romantic. I hope it sells like hotcakes.
Wynn is struggling to survive when the Immortal Swigne gives Wynn their Blessing. The only explanation Swigne gives is that Wynn now has “Power”.
Wynn meets people Blessed by other Immortals that can help guide them. In searching for knowledge of their new gift Wynn finds love, friendship and a more full sense of self identity. Wynn learns that being Blessed is a gift with a price tag of responsibilities and constant hunger attached, but the pay off is fantastic strength and the resources they’ll need to thrive in the world they live in. As long as Wynn keeps overcoming the challenges their new status brings them.
Julie Maroh’s first book, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was a graphic novel phenomenon; it was a New York Timesbestseller and the controversial film adaptation by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Maroh’s latest book, Body Music, marks her return to the kind of soft, warm palette and impressionistic sensibility that made her debut book so sensational.
Set in the languid, European-like neighborhoods of Montreal, Body Music is a beautiful and moving meditation on love and desire as expressed in their many different forms—between women, men, and gender non-conformists alike, all varying in age and race. In twenty separate vignettes, Maroh explores the drama inherent in relationships at different stages: the electricity of initial attraction, the elation of falling in love, the trauma of breaking up, the sweet comfort of a long-standing romance.
Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship will see themselves in these intimate stories tinged with raw emotion. Body Music is an exhilarating and passionate graphic novel about what it means to fall in love, and what it means to be alive.
Pick it up at your local comic or book shop!
Your favorite girls from Beverly Hills are back in an all-new adventure! It’s senior year and Cher, Dionne, and Tai find themselves in a bit of a crisis of self… Where are they meant to go, and what are they meant to DO after high school? Luckily they have all year—and each other’s help—to figure it out!
This continuation of the much-loved 90's movie, Clueless, isn't as heavy on the romance as the original, but it's getting a review here because I loved it and this is my blog.
The premise is simple: Dionne, Cher, and Tai are trying to figure out who they want/should be as they navigate senior year and an assignment from Ms. Geist. I'll warn you now - if you didn't like the movie, you won't like this comic. Like the original, it's heavy on 90's slang, excellent/horrible outfits, and female friendship.
Unlike the original, Dionne and Tai get real character arcs! Dionne was my fave in the movie, and her arc in this GN is empowering and smart and her boyfriend finally learns to respect her as she deserves. Tai's arc brings the girls out of their comfort zone and puts them to work (physical labor?!) on a big project together.
Cher? She's lost. At the very beginning of the book, Josh suggests that he and Cher take a "break," adding momentum to Cher's existential tailspin. As for romance, everything works out in the end, romance readers. Have no fear. Amber and Sarah wouldn't do that to you/us.
As for the art, the style and colors were perfectly matched to the story. The art captures the fashion, joy, and youthful energy of Clueless and puts readers solidly in the 90's. (Background details are really fun to pick up on a reread, which is one of my favorite things to do with a comic.)
Overall, this was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Just be prepared to watch the movie immediately afterward.
21 years ago, Azrael pardoned a life...
Cunning Fire is an urban fantasy story about witches and spirits in modern day Chicago, following the journey of Akiva Stein as she enters this unfamiliar, hidden world and learns the craft of the Death witch. Caught up in her new coven's quest to create the legendary Elixir of Life, Akiva is forced to face her ability to see spirits and come to terms with the ways magic has tainted her past, and how it will shape her future.
CONTENT WARNINGS: This comic contains some scenes and imagery dealing with death, blood, and abuse. Crude language is used throughout the story. The above categories will be warned for in the description sections of each chapter cover page. Please proceed through the story with this in mind.
DESTINY, NY is a 120-page graphic novel about love, loss, magic, cats, coffee, sex, growing up, and the way we build our own destinies every day.
This is going to be a bit of a Squee - you have been warned.
I first heard of DESTINY, NY when I was scrolling through Kickstarter and decided to back Vol. 2. Magical girls in love? Sign. Me. Up.
Fast forward a bit, and I've got a digital copy of DESTINY, NY (Vol. 1) waiting for me on the iPad. I had a terrible day yesterday. Not going to get into specifics, but trust me, I needed a pick-me-up.
Turns out, DESTINY, NY was just the thing! The original GN is 160 black & white pages, with two different art styles - one for present and one for flashbacks. I loved both styles, and really dug the blurred, surreal feel of the flashbacks, particularly the magical aspects.
Magic, you say? The main characters are both part of a group of young people identified by seers as having a "destiny." They go to a special school to learn about their destinies and prepare them for the challenges to come. After they've completed their destiny, the school provides them with the training they need to re-enter society at large and get on with their lives. Logan, the main heroine, fulfilled her destiny when was just thirteen years old, which has made the last decade of her life rather... unfulfilling. She's lost the love of her life, she's working as a barista, and she's pretty unhappy. Then she meets Lilith, our second heroine, and her life tips upside down.
First things first: this story is definitely a romance. Lilith and Logan have a pretty great meet-cute, followed by a hot and tumultuous relationship. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but I choose to believe their Happy-For-Now will be a Happily-Ever-After. (Volume 2 explores this, but I don't have my hands on it yet.)
No matter how much I liked Logan and Lilith, the secondary characters really steal the show here. Gia, a fat girl with a scary destiny, is really well done. I loved that her size isn't "a thing," and that she was unapologetically into sex and love and friendship. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to see characters who don't fit the the "ideal" living full lives.
My biggest (only?) criticism is that the "big bad" felt undeveloped. She's evil from the time she's a little kid, which doesn't tell me much about her motivations. She is definitely awful, however, and it's quite satisfying to see her get her due.
Tl;DR - I loved DESTINY, NY and can't wait for Volume 2. The first volume proved to be exactly what I needed at the end of a rotten day, and I hope it gives you the same feels. Rated R for nudity, sexual situations, violence, language.
Fables chronicles the world’s most beloved fairy tale characters hiding out in a magically hidden neighborhood within Manhattan. Run out of their happily-ever-after homeworlds by a mighty conqueror known only as The Adversary, these universally recognized princes, princesses, talking animals, heroes, and villains now face a new challenge: adapting to a modern world filled with sex, violence, and lots of moral ambiguity. Mixing mystery, action, humor, and more, Fables follows these cherished characters’ war against The Adversary and their ongoing struggle to survive alongside one another in the modern world. But who is this Adversary that has rocked their lives?
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!
Harlan is a brilliant scientist who follows his own path and refuses to let anyone tell him how to live just because he's a wheelchair user. He has only one passion: to prove that there is no such thing as the supernatural. He doesn't believe in ghosts any more than he believes in love. One night in an abandoned chateau on the outskirts of Paris just might change his mind . . . if he survives.
Because even though no one's lived in the old Vine estate for over a century, Harlan's not alone there anymore.
Future Echoes: A different kind of long-distance romance.