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.
Originally published in French as Le bleu est une couleur chaude, Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.
Vividly illustrated and beautifully told, Blue Is the Warmest Color is a brilliant, bittersweet, full-color graphic novel about the elusive, reckless magic of love. It is a lesbian love story that crackles with the energy of youth, rebellion, and desire.
First published in French by Glenat, the book has won several awards, including the Audience Prize at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, Europe's largest.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR was recommended to me by an instructor as a masterwork of sequential art, so when I picked it up, I had high expectations. It's also won several awards and been made into a movie, which is rare for non-cape graphic novels.
It's a lesbian coming-of-age story that starts and ends with pain, but the romance is beautiful and immensely moving. I was reminded of the work queer communities have done to get us to this place of openness. Yes, there's much work to be done, particularly with and for the trans community and for PoC in queer spaces. But to be taken back to the not-so-distant past as we follow Clementine through her journey of self-awareness and self-acceptance in the 90's? Oof. Spoiler: Clem's parents kick her out at age 17 when they find out her best friend is really her lover. I know that still happens today, but maybe a little less frequently? I can't speak to gay culture in France today, but in the US it's improved.
This is one of those stories in which one of the queer protagonists dies, but it's not because she's queer. This isn't a spoiler - the book opens with Emma visiting Clem's estranged parents following the funeral for Clem. Most of the narrative is told as written in Clem's handwritten journal, giving Emma and the reader a look at Clem's emotional journey. I was weeping at the end of the book, but I'm not sorry to have read it. It's not going to give you the feeling of Brokeback Mountain or other stories that mine gay pain for emotional power.
As for the art, Julie Maroh makes interesting and successful choices throughout. The only pop of color in the book is blue. Several pages have no written dialogue, giving facial expressions and action more weight. Maroh gives readers close-ups of Clem's smile after her first positive sexual interaction. We can feel the joy with her, just as we later feel her intense sadness. Emma is best depicted in the opening and closing scenes of the book, after Clem has passed on. Only then is Emma given the freedom to have her own story told, which makes sense considering that the entire middle is from Clem's POV.
TL;DR - this is an excellent book. I'm glad I read it. It's not a traditional romance, since there isn't a Happily Ever After, but considering that the two protagonists have a solid 13 happy years together? I'm willing to bend my definition.
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.
The story of Bonnie N. Collide, a roller-girl, and the adventures she has at a humdrum day job. Bonnie’s inability to separate her vibrant roller derby life from her normal working life means she gets to gleefully crash from one aspect of her life into another, seamlessly, and using the same amount of gusto. Oh, and one of her coworkers is a werewolf named Herb.
Bonnie N. Collide is a strip-based romantic comedy, full of roller derby and office hijinks. Bonnie is wonderfully wacky, and Stuart plays a charmingly awkward straight man to balance her off-the-wall antics. Their romance is awkward and slow to develop, but charming, and the cast of secondary characters (including a werewolf?) adds depth and humor to what would otherwise be a very sitcom-y strip. A nice light comic to read after a hard day.
Order from The Yam Fam Directly
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.
An alien crashes on Earth with a mighty bang. He's alone on this strange planet, unable to communicate or ask for help. If only there was someone who could help him understand this new planet..!
Two ordinary graduates adopt a puppy…which turns out to be a magical shapeshifting battle monster. Now one of them is involved in a soul-binding ownership contract, rich and powerful people are lurking around looking to challenge them, and they still can’t find any companies that are hiring.
None of this would have happened if they’d gone for a kitten instead.
A webcomic about adventure, politics, magic, and lesbians. Combines the struggle of modern-day underemployed geeky twentysomethings with the ethical dilemmas of ownership and interspecies relations that you normally try not to think about while playing Pokémon.
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.