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.