Romance comics used to be a huge part of the comic book industry. In the 1950s and 1960s, almost every publisher had several ongoing romance titles and they were wildly popular with young female readers. Romance comics died out in the 1970s as the industry underwent some massive changes, and the industry lost a lot of its female readership as it transitioned into primarily superhero and humour titles.
But over the past decade or so, female comic readers have been making a massive comeback in the North American market (after previously playing a key role in the rise of manga). They’re a quickly rising demographic for superhero books, and are a big part of the recent successes of indie publishers with more stylistically diverse books in a variety of genres. However, romance comics have yet to stage a comeback, until now.
Janelle Asselin, formerly an editor at DC Comics and Disney and now the senior editor of Comics Alliance, has launched Rosy Press to bring back romance comics. The Kickstarter campaign for the publisher’s first series, Fresh Romance, debuted today and the book sounds fantastic. Here’s the cover for the first issue, drawn by Kevin Wada:
The stories inside include:
- A high school lesbian romance story written by Kate Leth (my pal! WOOHOO KATE!) with art by Arielle Jovellanos and colours by Amanda Scurti.
- An old school Regency romance with a couple set to wed despite not being terribly fond of each other by Sarah Vaughn and Sarah Winifred Searle.
- A tale of a supernatural barista helping others find love written by Sarah Kuhn, drawn by Sally Jane Thompson, and coloured by Savanna Ganucheau.
At least in this initial wave, Rosy Press seems committed to stories about women BY women and marketed TO women, which is all kinds of fun. Asselin created Rosy Press as a response to the massive growth in women reading comics, and I think the market is definitely set for this to be a massive success. And of course, you don’t have to be a woman to enjoy romance stories. Anyone can read the comics; they’ll just be free of the one-dimensionality and objectification that so often plagues female comic book characters.
That doesn’t mean that the books won’t be sexy, though. Rosy Press’ stories will be R-rated and have sexual content, just not in an exploitive way. Telling great romance stories is the series’ focus, and the comic isn’t erotica, but they’re not steering away from sex either. Because of the adult content, Asselin suggests that readers be at least 17.
The Kickstarter for Fresh Romance is up now, and you can get on board on a variety of levels. After the Kickstarter, Fresh Romance will be released monthly, with three ongoing stories in each issue, and after each individual story wraps up you’ll be able to buy it all together in an ebook as well. The plan is for Rosy Press to be completely digital, tapping into yet another growing market in the comic industry.
So yeah, all of this sounds fantastic! I’m very excited that romance comics are coming back, and with such a smart and savvy editor like Janelle Asselin at the helm. Plus the first creative teams are awesome, and the stories sound like a lot of fun. The Kickstarter will run for the next month, so get on board now, and Fresh Romance is set to debut its first issue in May. If you want to learn even more about Rosy Press and Fresh Romance, there are interviews with Asselin at the Washington Post and Comic Book Resources. You should definitely get behind this project, gang! I think it’s going to be great.