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.
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.
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.
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
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.
Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia is guarded by the Sleepless Knight Cyrenic, but becomes endangered when an assassin threatens her life in the new king’s reign. As Poppy and Cyrenic try to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangerous waters of life at court, and of their growing feelings for one another. Writer Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA, ETERNAL EMPIRE) and artist Leila del Duca (SHUTTER, AFAR) team up with editor / colorist Alissa Sallah and letterer Deron Bennett for this fantasy romance.
Review from Issue #1:
SLEEPLESS is a love story with a black princess (kind of) and her bodyguard who has sworn to not sleep (I think) in order to be her guard 24/7. It's written and illustrated by some really talented women. If you aren't sold yet, get thee to your local comic shop and flip through it.
The costuming looks renaissance-ish, with voluminous sleeves, high waistlines and billowing skirts and cloaks. The colors are rich and dark and it opens in a CRYPT. One of the first panels shows the two protagonists walking down a dark hallway full of bones, lit by a torch held aloft by the disembodied forearm bones of... someone.
It's spooky as all heck, but the two soon ascend to a coronation, where Poppy has to present a gift to the man replacing her late father, the former king. We quickly learn that all is not well, both because of her obvious apprehension about the coronation and because of looks and whispers as she approaches the throne. Her father's wife (not her mum) offers to take her away where she will be safe, but she says she needs to stay for her mother's return. Lastly? She's nearly assassinated.
And then it ends.
It's a hell of an issue and left me with so many questions. Who is trying to kill her and why? What's the history with her guard? Where is her mother and what is she doing there? In short - what is going on?! I can't wait to see what's next.
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.