The first thing that may strike you about Fresh Romance, besides its stunning visuals, is that it has a whole lot of lady power behind it. Published by Rosy Press, a new publishing house specializing in romance (not your typical comic book fare), Fresh Romance has an almost entirely female creative team. Writers Kate Leth (Adventuretime, Edward Scissorhands), Sarah Vaughn (Alex & Ada) and Sarah Kuhn (One Con Glory) pen the stories while a talented group of artists including Arielle Jovellanos, Sarah Winifred Searle, and Sally Jane Thompson paint the pictures. Funded by a recent and very successful Kickstarter campaign, the comic was released yesterday to much excitement, and it’s no surprise: It’s pretty damn cool.
The cover of Issue One features Malie and Justine, our secretive queer couple from Kate Leth’s “School Spirit” story. The high school students pretend to be rivals for the affection of popular quarterback Miles, but in actuality only have eyes for each other. The reason for the ruse isn’t clear from the first issue, but Miles has some secrets of his own, and some supernatural things are afoot. Because the comic is divided between three stories, we only learn the barest of details this first time around. While a tiny bit frustrating, it also builds excitement for the next installment.
The other stories in the comic are very different in style. “Ruined” is a Regency romance set in the early 1800’s England, and tells the tale of poor Catherine, who is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t love or even really know. All the while she pines for a secret love who we only know by the initials H.A. All we know is that H.A. pines too, and no one is happy about the marriage except perhaps Catherine’s parents. “The Ruby Equation” is a cute tale of about Ruby, a barista/intergalactic matchmaker who needs to meet a quota of matches before she can get back to her home galaxy.
In addition to the stories, Fresh Romance includes an advice section called “The Divorce(e) Club” where questions about love, romance and heartbreak are answered by “people who’ve been there.” (Not what you might expect to find nestled in the pages of a comic book, but delightful nonetheless.)
There are also pages included to show the readers the process of how Fresh Romance came together, like how they finalized drawings of the characters, and how the gorgeous cover (by Kevin Wada) was fashioned.
If you are a detail-oriented comic fan, then you will fall for Fresh Romance. Even if comics aren’t “your thing” but you love a good romance, Fresh Romance is worth checking out. In a world where a panel on women in comics can be held without any actual women on it (I’m looking at you, Denver ComicCon) knowing that these fierce, talented writers and artists are leading a fresh, new charge, gives me much hope for the changing comics landscape.