I’ve been hearing so much talk about this particular graphic novel since before it even published. Reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Nerdist have all been popping up with rave reviews as well as many recommendations from illustrators and cartoonists all around Twitter and other social media platforms. I’ve read some of Jen Wang’s books before, In Real Life for example, and have generally enjoyed them. I figured it was about time I picked up a copy for myself, and so swung by my local bookstore on my way home from work. As I was handing the book to the cashier, she also took the time to recommend the book to me, telling me just how cute and genuinely awesome it is. After getting a chance to read through the whole thing this week, I have to say, none of these recommendations were wrong. Jen Wang has truly created a charming story steeped in the discussion of gender expression and queerness that had me both on the verge of tears and laughing out loud.
The story of The Prince and the Dressmaker revolves around a young seamstress by the name of Frances who, after making a scandalous dress for a young lady, gets hired to be the personal seamstress to a mysterious high-class woman. It’s her dream come true. The only problem being that the mysterious woman just happens to be young Prince Sebastian of Belgium who wants Frances to make the most incredible dresses for him to wear when he goes out as Lady Crystallia. But when you’re a prince, you’re parents expect you to find a princess to marry, and Sebastian’s dual lifestyle quickly becomes threatened. Continue reading
The Secret Loves of Geeks is a follow-up to the previous anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, which I admittedly need to read as well. I’ve been seeing this one pop up on my Twitter feed for the last couple weeks as its release date came and went. Ultimately, the cover, with its multitude of meme-themed cats and the big-name contributors really convinced me to pick this one up as I was browsing through a comic store. Anthologies have always been a draw for me, as they give me a way to discover new artists while reading a diverse collection of stories. So far I’ve reviewed two anthologies focusing on romance and sex, and I’m glad to be able to add this one to the list as it definitely doesn’t disappoint in its content.
If the name hasn’t given it away, this anthology features prose stories and comics from a diverse cast of creators, artists, writers of geek culture about their most heartbreaking or uplifting tales of love, sex, and dating. It includes contributions from such professionals as: Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Hope Larson (Batgirl), Chris Roberson (iZombie), and Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine). The anthology is edited by Hope Nicholson and is currently published by Dark Horse. Continue reading
I’ve been following the artist of this comic for a while on Instagram and have been keeping up a bit with the hype on this comic for awhile. So when it was finally released not too long ago, I knew I had to pick it up and check out the story for myself. I have to say, for any LGBT and/or African American comic fans out there, I would highly suggest you pick this up. Even for general lovers of queer romance stories, I think this comic has something major to offer to the general narrative surrounding queer romance, especially for older couples. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some problems with it overall, it just means I think the comic’s ability to bring a new and compelling story to the romance table may outweigh some of its faults.
The plot of Bingo Love surrounds the multi-decade love story of two women named Elle and Mari. They both grew up during the 60s when the concept of lesbian or homosexual love was still criminalized and heavily looked down upon especially by many religious communities. Elle and Mari happen to meet each other at a church bingo event while they’re with their grandmothers. Over the course of the next couple weeks, they become best friends, and Elle tries her best to hide her growing romantic feelings for Mari. But after having their sexuality discovered by their families, both girls are forced to separate, marry traditional husbands, and they never see each other again for nearly 50 years. That is until a fateful night at a bingo hall.
Please check out the comic first before continuing. Spoilers below. Continue reading
Dirty Diamonds is one of those anthologies I look for every time I go to a convention like MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo) mainly because I know there will be something in there I will like. Also because I definitely think women and queer comic voices don’t get the amount of attention they deserve. The anthology itself goes back to 2011 when it was started by the two editors, Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman. Each volume is funded through Kickstarter and takes submissions from anyone who identifies as female. This volume’s specific theme is sex, and it manages to present a lot of different semi-autobiographical stories about sex itself, our relation to it, and the social pressures surrounding it. I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the stories and issues presented in Sex as well as highlight some of my favorites. Continue reading
Little Gods — much like Blue that I reviewed a week ago — was something that I found at Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) last month. I have to say, I don’t regret picking this up. I was a little skeptical of the art style, but I’ve found the comic to be pretty interesting overall. It manages to utilize Native American creation myths as a jumping off point for its own story of adolescence and discussions surrounding family and queer romance. As someone who loves both mythology and watercolor artwork, it was pretty much a done deal that I would find at least something to like about this comic.
Created by Leda Zawacki and published by Tinto Press, this single volume comic not only contains the story “Little Gods” but also its prequel “Sky Gods.” The prequel follows the Northwest Native American creation myth Shasta Mountain and the Grizzly Bears, using most of the original text. “Little Gods” diverts the story to focus on the Sky God’s eldest daughter as she dreams about descending the mountain to see the world her father created. After a failed kidnapping by a bunch of wind monsters, the eldest daughter — nicknamed Bunny Girl for her distinctive bunny mask — finds herself at the base of Shasta Mountain, free from the watchful eye of her father. Continue reading
Reindeer Boy is written and illustrated by Cassandra Jean and picked up for publication by Yen Press in 2016. It came to my attention while I was scrolling through the recommendations on the graphic novel subreddit. The concept seemed intriguing: a romance between a girl and mysterious horned boy that shows up at her school. I could see some basic romance tropes already in the description, but I’m always willing to give a new romance story a try. Unfortunately, while the character designs were pretty cool, the story itself left me wanting and kind of disappointed. But perhaps people looking for a something fluffy to read during the holidays, this could be good.
Quincy has the same dream every year on Christmas Eve – of finding a little boy holding a special gift for her under the tree – and every Christmas morning, she’s awoken to find a gift wrapped in tinfoil with her name on it. When school resumes after the winter break, Quincy’s class discovers they have an unusual new transfer student named Cupid. Ridiculously cute and friendly, the new boy has everyone both enamored and confused. Those antlers can’t be real…can they? With Cupid having seemingly set his sights on Quincy, it seems she’ll be having a memorable year indeed! (Official summary from Yen Press)
Jamie Noguchi has to be one of my favorite webcomic artists, up there wit Yuko Ota of Johnny Wander who I’ve talked about multiple times already. Noguchi has been involved in a lot of great projects, in and out of comics: the Super Art Fight Show, the Fucking Do It support network, and a ton of other art stuff. Chief among them for me is his work on the webcomic Yellow Peril, which he markets as an Asian American Office Romance Comedy. All of those words fit the series perfectly, and Noguchi shows his art and storytelling skills in interesting ways that really add to both the appearance and flow of the comic. If you haven’t already checked out my Top 5 Romance Comics list, you should do so, as Yellow Peril appears as the only honorable mention (which is basically number 6). It earned this spot for some very good reasons that I’ll be getting into more below, but to even make it onto that list, a comic has to combine creativity and storytelling to make something truly unique.
Yellow Peril is a webcomic that typically has around 4 to 5 panels, but has been known to feature more depending on the plot line and art style used. The story itself follows three co-workers who all work at the same design company, Penticorp, and are generally dissatisfied with their jobs. When the opportunity presents itself for them to form their own small design company, they quit their jobs and strike out on their own. The webcomic continues to show their struggles with work and romance as well as their love for good food, kung fu, and spontaneous dance-offs.
Western comics are an area where I admit I don’t have enough experience or knowledge of, something that I have been actively trying to remedy through research and reading as much as I can. However, I also know that I have almost no interest in trying to delve into the world that is Marvel or DC. I’ve tried once before with Deadpool and Wolverine, but didn’t get too far considering the amount of history and crossovers there is to follow. So, in this list, I’ve added comics from independent publishers, graphic novels, and even webcomic artist. Some of these have full reviews themselves, and I encourage you to check those out, and if you think something deserves a chance to make it onto this list, let me know in the comments below. Now, starting with number one, here are my top picks for best romance comics plus one honorable mention. Continue reading
Daytripper is a comic that melds discussion about death, friendship, and love into a story with so many twists and turns that you almost can’t keep up. Created by the famous twin-team of comic artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon — who you may recognize from a previous review — and published by Vertigo in 2011. This comic has been on my list to read for awhile ever since I saw samples of their art in passing, and even more so after I read How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I finally got the chance to borrow it out of my local library, and I was not disappointed. Both the story and the art are finely crafted to emphasize themes of living life to its fullest and appreciating the time you have with people.
The story of Daytripper follows the life of a man named Bras who works as an obituary editor at his local paper. He spends most of his time writing about the lives of people who have recently passed while trying to make a name for himself as a novelist. In each chapter, Bras takes us through a different segment of his life, whether it be his childhood playing with his cousins on a farm or the time he first met his future wife. However, each event inevitably ends in his death, highlighting the inescapable nature of death and cycle of life itself.
I wanted to step away from the print arena for a little while to talk about a webcomic I recently came across called Love Not Found, created by writer and artist Gina Biggs. I’m always looking for new stories and comics to explore, and webcomics provide a way for new and experienced creators to tell the stories they want to tell. Love Not Found is a comic that may show a slightly amateurish art style, but it makes up for it for the story it weaves full of futuristic technology and the re-discovery of love. I was hesitant to read it at first, as I can be picky about art styles, but the unique world she brings to life kept me coming back for more.
To give an idea what this comic is about, here’s a quick synopsis:
In the years following the decline of Earth, much of its past inhabitants looked to the stars for their new homes, venturing to new planets and ecosystems to reap out a new living. But as they journeyed the galaxy and technology increased, the need for human contact diminished. Much of the human population gets their pleasure through personalized machines and sees human touch of any kind as revolting. It is in this time that Abeille decides to move from her planet of perpetual winter to one filled with lush, yet alien, greenery. She brings with her one desire, to build a garden in memory of her deceased sister. But that dream quickly becomes eclipsed by another: to feel what it’s like to be touched by another human being.