Cornelia Tzana ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Comic Books Editor
Kickstarter is a tool that has provided many creators of all disciplines with a way to reach out to their fans and find the financial support to bring their works to life. Through its campaigns, we have seen the birth of a number of great comic books such as The Princess who Saved Herself and Plume, just to name a few. Now, with the support of comic book and romance fans everywhere, Kickstarter has served as the medium to bring us Fresh Romance, a monthly comic anthology that brings the long-lost romance comics back in fashion.
The original idea belongs to Janelle Asselin, former editor for DC Entertainment and Disney Publishing and current CEO of Rosy Press, the publishing company behind Fresh Romance. “Older romance comics were so often, especially after the Senate Hearings, about upholding what the male creators thought women should be like.” states Asselin in an interview with Comic Book Resources. “The most important thing for me is that we show actual romance — not overblown soap-opera-y stories just about drama, and not outright erotica, but instead something else entirely. Pure romance, in all its forms.”
The first issue of the anthology features the first parts of three stories. The first, School Spirit, is a queer romance created by Kate Leth (story) and Arielle Jovellanos (art) with Amanda Scurti on colors. It follows the story of four high school students that appear to be in some… complicated relationships that only barely get cleared up by the end of the chapter. Jovellanos and Scurti have done a great job with the characters’ designs and color schemes that really set them apart from the rest of the students and from each other. And frankly, their sense of fashion is on point!
Ruined, written by Sarah Vaughn and drawn by Sarah Winifred Searle, is a period piece. The first chapter presents us with two characters, Catherine and Andrew, a character that at first sight brings to mind Mr Bingley of Pride and Prejudice fame. The two are to be married but neither seems eager about it. With a simple art style but the needed attention to detail, this story will transport you to the elegant but often oppressive Regency era.
The final story, The Ruby Equation, focuses on Ruby, a Love Emissary from another world whose mission is to help people fall in love in order to meet her quota and be charged with a different, “totally important mission in a totally better realm.” Created by Sarah Kuhn (story) and Sally Jane Thompson (art) with Savanna Ganucheau on colors, we can tell that this comic will make some interesting comments about what it means to be in love. The art style is a combination of western comics and manga that perfectly fits the quirky nature of the story and its characters.
Besides the collection of stories and “behind the scenes” looks at the creative process however, there is another feature of Fresh Romance that brings back memories of the old romance comics. Within each issue there is a column titled “The Divorcé(e) Club” where readers will be able to get “love advice from people who’ve been there.” Cheesy as it may sound, it is a nice touch to the anthology that can really make the readers connect with the publication and its purpose.
The goal of Fresh Romance is to present romance stories of all races, sexualities, shapes, and sizes that are not represented in the mainstream comic book industry and Asselin is planning to open submissions to all artists and especially members of underserved groups to achieve that diversity.The first issue only gave us a brief introduction of the characters and a glimpse into their romantic situation but we are very excited to see where their stories, and Fresh Romance as a whole will go from here!
Check out a PREVIEW of School Spirit here. To learn more about Fresh Romance and the creative team behind it you can visit the Fresh Romance Kickstarter campaign. You can purchase the first issue for $4.99 or sign up for a 1-year subscription on the Rosy Press website.