So. Fresh Romance. I picked up this baby when I went along to a She Reads Comics event in February and decided I deserved a Galentine’s present to myself. I’d seen and heard so much about this comic on social media that I gave a very audible squeak upon finding it hidden amongst some Flash and Grayson comics.
So, what’s this about, and since when have I been all mushy? Ignoring the fact I bought this the night before Valentines Day, frankly, why wouldn’t I want to read this? Fresh Romance has some of the best creative teams known to comics, and features stories with a universal appeal. Want a spooky teenage love story? Enter Kate Leth, with the artistic talents of Arielle Jovellanos and Amanda Scurti, and Taylor Esposito’s lettering skills. If Jane Austen is your thing, you’ll probably love Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle and Ryan Ferrier’s bittersweet offering. Sarah Kuhn takes a more mathematical and quirky approach in her comic, illustrated by Sally Jane Thompson, coloured by Savanna Ganucheau, and lettered by Steve Wands, with a logo provided by Sonia Harris. Marguerite Bennett and Trungles provide a stunning fairytale esque story, expertly lettered by Rachel Deering, whilst Kieron Gillen and Christine Norrie end the anthology with an intriguing yet oddly relatable comic about kissing. If that’s not enough, there are also several covers, including contributions from Babs Tarr, Kris Anka and Marguerite Sauvage to name but a few. This is definitely one that should be proudly displayed on one’s shelves.
So, what did I think? Simply put, this anthology is gorgeous. I forced myself to slow my reading pace, limiting myself to one story every evening. I’m glad that I did, as it allowed me to really savour and appreciate each story, and the amazing talent which each creator has contributed. The comics are all very different takes on love and romance- no story is the same- and the anthology really showcases the diversity and skill each creative team brings. I struggle to choose a favourite comic from those in this volume; I came to this knowing that I admired Leth and Bennett’s writing, and I was very familiar with Trungles’ art, though Fresh Romance has introduced me to other names to watch out for.
I’m always somewhat dubious when something is advertised to me as “something for everyone”, but somehow, Fresh Romance manages to bring just that. It’s a real mixture of genres, artistic styles, colouring, lettering… Janelle Asselin is, frankly, a genius of an editor and publisher. She has collected some extremely well-written and beautifully illustrated stories which show that in the right hands, comics and romance can be taken to some highly unexpected and fantastic places.
There’s currently a Kickstarter involving Fresh Romance Volume 2, and I’m contemplating throwing in a backing. Otherwise, I’m certainly more open to adding romance comics to my shelves than I was previously.