Twisted Romance Issue #1 Review

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Image Comics has always been one of the publisher’s I find myself gravitating towards the most in terms of comics and stories that capture my interest. They always have a wide variety of genres and stories to choose from and have the market share and money to fund experimental projects. Like Twisted Romance. Last January, Image Comics took a chance on a short, 4-issue romance anthology, marketing it as a special weekly event that would last the month of February. It features both prose and comic writings with one story written by Alex de Campi and a new artist every issue. Three self-contained stories wrapped up in its 44 pages, longer than a standard single issue and definitely worth the $3.99 price tag.

Because I’m slow on the uptake, you can actually find all four issues in one combined volume now, but I figured I’d take it one issue at a time and just have a shorter than normal review for each. Twisted Romance started as an experiment in romance comics, one of the first after many years of publishers leaving the genre by the wayside in favor of superheros and the ever-popular zombies and post-apocalyptic stories. But in the past, Image has been one of the big publishers to take a look at the genre and see some real potential, with series like Saga and Sex Criminals winning a lot of attention from fans and even multiple awards. Continue reading

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Fresh Romance Volume 1 Anthology Review

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Anthologies have always been hugely interesting for me. In the past, I’ve reviewed an issue of Dirty Diamonds and The Other Side. Anthologies offer a way for creators to get their work into the hands of comic fans that may not have ever heard of them, and Fresh Romance fills a niche I think the western market has been lacking for a long time. In the past, the US comic market was flooded with romance comics targeted towards women and young girls. However, because of the effects of the introduction of the Comics Code and the general down-turn of the comics industry during the 50’s and 60’s, romance comics fell by the wayside (you can read the full history here). With the creation of this collection of romance comics, we can see a slight revival of some more serious romance comics for the western audience again, and considering the comics featured in this volume, I’m excited to see what other comics will come out of this anthology.

Fresh Romance originally started as a Kickstarted magazine featuring creator-owned romance comics for a queer and diverse audience published by Rosy Press. When Rosy Press had to close down, Emet Press took over, keeping the same theme and general principles of the magazine intact. The first collected volume was published through Oni Press and features five short romance comics from a variety of different creators. All of them have their own unique style and story with a cast of diverse characters and romances. Continue reading

Sleepless: Issues 1-5 Comic Review

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As the weather gets nicer, I’m beginning to enjoy making trips after work to the comic shop by my apartment. It allows me to get some exercise walking home and lets me check out some new releases. Lately, or I should say for a while, I’ve been on an Image kick, and Sleepless is one of the more recent series I decided to pick up on one of those nice Spring days after work. It’s a pretty interesting series, a young adult, fantasy, romance set in an interesting world and with pretty interesting characters. The series started publishing back in December of 2017, so the story is still progressing through the court intrigue, murder plots, and general backstory in these first issues and hasn’t quite hit the main romance yet. However, I think these first issues should be enough to hook anyone who loves this genre, I know I’m hooked now.

The story of Sleepless follows Pyppenia, or “Poppy” as she’s called, who is the daughter of the recently deceased King of Harbeny. Day and night she is guarded by the Sleepless knight, Cyrenic, who has taken a magical vow to never sleep again in order to protect Pyppenia. But now that her father is dead, her mother back in her home country across the sea, Poppy has to deal with court intrigue, murder plots, and a new King on the throne. The story is written by Sarah Vaughn (of Alex + Ada), with art by Leila del Duca, editorial and coloring by Alissa Sallah, and lettering by Deron Bennett. Currently, there are six issues published by Image with more coming out every month. Continue reading

My Boyfriend Is a Bear Graphic Novel Review

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I’ve been waiting a while for this graphic novel to come out. I saw it mentioned last year I think on Twitter. The announcement was going around and both the title and the cover caught my eye. And yes, this story is exactly as the title suggests. Her boyfriend is indeed a bear, a Black Bear to be exact. It a fun and interesting story that, regardless of its crazy premise, will strike a chord with a lot of women, especially those who have found themselves trapped in a seemingly never-ending cycle of shitty boyfriends. Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris do a great job on the story and the art, crafting something both hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. This will be a fairly short review this time around, so stick around and let me know what you thought in the comments below.

My Boyfriend Is a Bear follows the life of Nora, who has notorious bad luck with men. When she meets an actual bear on a hike in the Los Angeles hills, he turns out to be the best romantic partner she’s ever had. He’s considerate, he’s sweet, he takes care of her. But he’s a bear, and winning over her friends and family is difficult. Not to mention he has to hibernate all winter. Can true love conquer all in this story of girl meets bear? It was just recently published by Oni Press last month and features writing from Pamela Ribon and art from Cat Farris. Continue reading

The Prince and the Dressmaker Graphic Novel Review

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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 Anthology Review

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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

Bingo Love Comic/Graphic Novel Review

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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 #8: “Sex” Comic Anthology Review

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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 Comic Review

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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 Graphic Novel Review

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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)

Continue reading