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.
Lucky Penny is co-created by one of my favorite artist and writer teams, Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, who also create the webcomic Johnny Wander plus many other independent comics and collaborations. This graphic novel was published through the support of backers on Kickstarter, but the experience and unique style of Ota and Hirsch help make it a great and entertaining read especially for fans of other comics like Scott Pilgrim by Brian Lee O’Malley. I saw a lot of his influence in both Ota’s style and the story overall, a story that follows the lives of two very flawed but passionate people trying to come together and grow into adulthood while facing some seemingly unlucky events.
If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at Lucky Penny, here’s a quick synopsis:
Penny Brighton is a woman down on her luck. She lost her job, lost her apartment, and is now living in a storage shed and working for a 12-year-old boss at a laundromat. Armed with her stash of raunchy romance novels and a cat named Boyfriend, she tries to make the best of her situation. But when she agrees to go on a date with the slightly dorky and quiet Walter in exchange for free showers at the gym, will her luck begin to turn? What about the rumors of middle schoolers causing trouble, does that have anything to do with the sounds she’s hearing outside her shed door?
The Other Side is a queer paranormal romance anthology largely funded by Kickstarter that debuted in Spring 2016. I first came across it when I attended a small indie comic expo in Boston where a lot of the contributing authors were attending. I was originally looking for pretty much anything in the romance genre that I could review, but The Other Side is unique like most anthologies in that it features a variety of authors and styles I can talk about. It features 19 stories from 23 different authors focusing on queer romance in a paranormal setting, so anything from the love between human and ghost or human and monster, though the stories don’t stop there. With primarily PG-13 content, this anthology looks to showcase underrepresented groups such as gay/lesbian, transsexual, and everything in between.
Blankets tells a tale ripe with childhood innocence, the search for religious meaning, and the pull of obsession found in love. Written as a memoir, the story follows Craig as he grows from a child troubled by bullies and the fundamentalist religion that both scares and comforts him to a man tangled in obsession and searching for the meaning behind God. Craig recounts the childhood games him and his brother used to play and the fateful meeting that led to a relationship shadowed by naivete and shame. While a long read, clocking in at 592 pages, this autobiographical graphic novel is filled to the brim with amazing artwork and a story full of discovery and loss.
Exquisite Corpse follows the life of main character Zoe who works as a booth babe at conventions and hates it. Her life consists of going to work and then coming home to a boyfriend who is outright verbally abusive at times. While on her lunch break, she notices someone peaking out of his window at her and decides to stumble into his apartment to use his bathroom, not knowing that he is the world famous author Thomas Rocher. His apartment becomes an escape for her and they quickly form a relationship, but his unwillingness to leave his apartment is troubling. Thus starts Zoe’s investigation into Thomas’ terrible secret.