Graphic Novel Review

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

Gothic Tales of Haunted LoveGothic Tales of Haunted Love
Author: Allison Paige, Amber Noelle, Barbara Guttman, Becka Kinzie, Caroline Dougherty, Cecil Castellucci, Cherelle Higgins, Chris Stone, Colleen Coover, Dani Bee, Dante L, Femi Sobowale, H. Pueyo, Hien Pham, Hope Nicholson, Jacque Nodell, Katie West, Kitty Curran, LAB, Larissa Zageris, Maia Kobabe, Megan Kearney, Nika, Ray Fawkes, Rina Rozsas, Ronn Sutton, S.M. Beiko, Sanho Kim, Sarah W. Searle, Scott B Henderson, Scott Chantler, SDavid Alexander Robertson, Svetla Nikolova, Willow Dawson, Zakk Saam
Publisher: Bedside Press
First Published: April 24, 2018
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance, Queer
Pages: 164
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley

two-half-stars
Synopsis:

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is a new anthology of comics based on the 1970s gothic romance comic genre. Featuring stories of gruesome acts and undying love, this collection merges up and coming creators with established pros in a wonderful collection of the macabre.


My Thoughts

When I first laid eyes on this collection I knew I had to read it. The cover is stunning and the idea of Gothic romance comics instantly caught my attention, being a fan of gothic literature in its various forms. It was a fast read and while I found a few spectacular comics in the collection I ended up feeling only lukewarm overall.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love seeks to revitalize an aging genre of literature while paying homage to the short-lived gothic romance comics of the 1970s and 1980s. Despite a variety of tropes that have become standard in the genre I feel that there is a lot more nuanced compared to regular paranormal romance and this is what I think left me feeling a little underwhelmed. There were certainly a few finely crafted horror stories, such as Secrets in Silk and The Return, but did they feel all that gothic to me? Not really, no.

“I kept returning to him, my love, year after year…”

One of the key elements in gothic fiction is the setting, something missing in many of the stories. Many of the authors picked up on common themes of love but most ended up falling under one of two categories: a romance that turns into murder and romance with a ghost or other paranormal creature. The book further tried to update the genre by painting the stories with the diversity brush which, don’t get me wrong, I love diverse stories, but I feel like some key elements of the genre were sacrificed in an attempt to reinvent it.

Now there were some wonderful pieces that I felt did a lot of justice to the genre while seamlessly including a diverse cast of characters. The first story in the collection, Crush is easily one of the strongest entries that really captured the vintage gothic romance feel in both story and art style. The art was reminiscent of older comics, the setting and time period fits, the characters have motivations that are both understandable and questionable, and the story kept me enraptured from start to finish.

Fazenda do Sangue Azul was another notable story that stayed true to the gothic style but in a completely foreign setting with a touching queer romance, I was in awe of the beauty of the story and art. L’Heure Verte was short and sweet and brings the whimsical feelings from a classic paranormal romance but updates it for the modern era. One More Cup and Ouroboros were some of the more unique stories that I greatly enjoyed and are easy favorites.

Sadly with such a huge cast of contributors, it was inevitable that the quality of the stories and art varied greatly and it really diminished my enjoyment of the collection as a whole. It was really disjointed hopping from a stellar comic to several that were mediocre. Despite that, there are definitely quite a few comics to admire here and are worth the read for lovers of gothic romance or paranormal romance in general.


Warnings: violence


About Colleen Coover

Colleen Coover is an Eisner Award-winning comic book artist based in Portland, Oregon. Her comics include the adult title Small Favors and the all-ages Banana Sunday. She has been published by Dark Horse, Top Shelf, Marvel, and many others. She works with her husband, writer Paul Tobin, on the acclaimed series Bandette.

Bandette received the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2013, 2016, and 2017. It was listed by YALSA as a Great Graphic Novel For Teens in 2014 and 2017.

Small Favors, originally printed by the Eros imprint of Fantagraphics Books, has now been reprinted in its entirety by Limerence Press.

About Hope Nicholson

Hope Nicholson is the owner of Winnipeg-based publishing Bedside Press. She’s an ardent comics fan passionate about bringing new stories to light, and author of the book “The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen” which shines light on characters forgotten by comics history.

About Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe is a graduate of the Comics MFA program at California College of the Arts. Maia is the author/illustrator of GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR (May 2019), winner of an Alex Award, Stonewall Book Award, nominated for an Ignatz Award and the Best Graphic Novels for Teens list from YALSA. Maia Kobabe is non-binary, queer and uses e/em/eir pronouns.

Jamie

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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