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Fresh Romance Cover
Title: Fresh Romance
Creators: Color: Color
Romanciness: Romantic Elements
Heat: PG13
Tags: anthology gay straight queer young adult fantasy paranormal character of color creator of color
Where to Buy or Read:

Volume 1

Emet Comics (Digital)

Oni Press (Print)

Amazon

Volume 2

Emet Comics

Amazon

Synopsis from the Creator:

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!

Love In Panels' Review:

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. 

School Spirit

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

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:

  • School Spirit by Kate Leth, Arielle Jovellanos, Amanda Scurti, and Taylor Esposito. School Spirit is the story of four teens embroiled in keeping their love lives secret from everyone around them. It's never quite that simple, though, and complications for this group include bigoted parents and witch-y powers!
  • Ruined is an historical romance by Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle, and Ryan Ferrier featuring a couple entering a loveless marriage at the prompting of society and their families. The future looks bleak for Andrew and Catherine, but there's more to each of them than either one knows. (Just chapter 1 — 60 pages of story — will be included)
  • The Ruby Equation stars a cynical matchmaker from another dimension who has to learn to believe in love for real! But is a coffee shop the right place to learn lessons of love? Written by Sarah Kuhn, drawn by Sally Jane Thompson, colored by Savanna Ganucheau, and lettered by Steve Wands.
  • Beauties by Marguerite Bennett, Trungles, and Rachel Deering takes readers to a lush fantasy world where the beautiful are beastly and the beasts are beautiful — and true love can be either.
  • First, Last, and Always by Kieron Gillen and Christine Norrie is about the magic of a first kiss with someone.

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! 


Heavy Vinyl Cover
Title: Heavy Vinyl
Creators: Format: EBook Print
Color: Color
Romanciness: Romantic Elements
Heat: PG13
Tags: young adult lesbian character of color gay dads feminism 1990s
Where to Buy or Read:

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from the Creator:

When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It's as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff's favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

Follow writer Carly Usdin (director of Suicide Kale) and artist Nina Vakueva (Lilith’s World) into Heavy Vinyl, where they deliver a rock and roll tale of intrigue and boundless friendship.


Kim Reaper Cover
Title: Kim Reaper
Creators: Format: EBook Print
Color: Color
Romanciness: Romantic Elements
Heat: PG13
Tags: young adult college queer
Where to Buy or Read:

Amazon

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from the Creator:

From Volume 1: Grim Beginnings

Part-time grim reaper. Full-time cutie! Like most university students, Kim works a part-time job to make ends meet. Unlike most university students, Kim's job is pretty cool: she's a grim reaper, tasked with guiding souls into the afterlife.

Like most university students, Becka has a super intense crush. Unlike most university students, Becka's crush is on a beautiful gothic angel that frequents the underworld. Of course, she doesn't know that.

Unaware of the ghoulish drama she's about to step into, Becka finally gathers up the courage to ask Kim on a date! But when she falls into a ghostly portal and interrupts Kim at her job, she sets off a chain of events that will pit the two of them against angry cat-dads, vengeful zombies, and perhaps even the underworld itself. But if they work together, they just might make it... and maybe even get a smooch in the bargain.


Spinning Cover
Title: Spinning
Creators: Format: EBook Print
Color: Color
Romanciness: LGBTQ+ Elements
Heat: PG13
Tags: coming of age lesbian young adult
Where to Buy or Read:

Amazon

Synopsis from the Creator:

Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden’s Spinning is a powerful graphic memoir that captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Love In Panels' Review:

With a whopping 400 pages, this book is something of a coming-of-age tome. With a spare, sketchlike style, Tillie Walden tells the story of her life as an ice skating child and teen.

Chapters are named after skating moves, a short description of the action mirroring the events of the story. Through skating, we see Tillie's yearning for acceptance and love: from other girls, from her coaches, from her family, from herself. Walden doesn't shy away from showing us her first love, her bouts of depression, and an assault by her SAT tutor. She lets readers feel the fear, heartbreak, and relief that she experiences while coming out as a teen.

While I spent about half of the book wondering "why the hell is she still skating if it makes her this miserable," Walden does answer that question. The "why" is inextricably tied in with Tillie's own struggle with self-acceptance and her need for approval. Even when she's being bullied at school, at the rink, at home, she still tries to put on a smile and do what is expected of her. This pushes her through skating, through middle school, through concealing her first relationship.

This is not a book for answers, however. Tillie's not perfect and doesn't pretend to be. She acknowledges that she might have saved everyone a lot of trouble by quitting skating earlier, and that she relied on one of her skating friends for a lot of support and friendship that she never really reciprocated. Rather than providing answers, this memoir offers readers a chance to consider the sacrifices we make for the things we could leave behind, and the confusing freedom that comes from breaking with routine and stepping into the unknown.


Valley of the Silk Sky Cover
Title: Valley of the Silk Sky
Creators: Format: Webcomic EBook Print
Color: Color
Tags: queer sci-fi young adult
Where to Buy or Read:

Read or Buy Here

Synopsis from the Creator:

Valley of the Silk Sky is a queer YA science fiction webcomic, written and drawn by Dylan Edwards. VoSS chronicles the adventures of a crew of queer scientists as they search for new medicinals and try to avoid being eaten in the often-dangerous Pocalo Valley.


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