Who doesn’t want a little more romance in their lives? If Janelle Asselin’s plan works out, we’ll all have Fresh Romance, a digital anthology title from her new imprint, Rosy Press, to add a little comics romance. Asselin is kickstarting the anthology and it’s off to a good start but keep those dollars going.

Fresh Romance will be available digitally via ComiXology or as a DRM-free PDF, CBR, or ePub file, with future digital collections in the works. Kickstarter rewards include subscriptions and a variety of tasty art rewards.

The contents of the first issue are in the can, and the book will come out in May if the Kickstarter is met. Here’s the line-up:

• A twist on the iconic high school love story by Kate Leth (KATE OR DIE), Arielle Jovellanos (FIVE), and colorist Amanda Scurti, in which a queer couple keep their relationship under wraps by pretending to compete for the same, equally secretive guy.
• A Regency-era romance by Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA) and Sarah Winifred Searle (SMUT PEDDLER) about a couple headed to the altar despite a mutual lack of enthusiasm for their marriage. (Spoiler: period costumes and culture are consummately researched.)
• An otherworldly tale by novelist Sarah Kuh, who has a three-book prose book deal with DAW Books and who is penning her first comic with Sally Jane Thompson (RED JACK) and colorist Savanna Ganucheau, in which a cynical, supernatural barista is trapped in this world… until she helps enough lonely souls find love.
• The first cover from Kevin Wada, a former fashion illustrator, who uses his hallmark watercolors to depict Leth and Jovellanos’ high school heroines.

The romance comic was one of the sturdiest comics genres since Simon and Kirby more or less got it rolling, and while romance fiction remains one of the biggest sellers out there, various romance comics revivals have had variable success. However the time would seem to be more right than ever for such a thing, and Asselin is using manga as an inspiration, as she told WaPo: :

“I actually stopped reading all American comics for a couple of years, because I was finding more of what I wanted in manga. I was finding comics that had been created by women and that had romantic storylines,” she said. “There’s something really appealing … [to] comics that have that sort of soap-opera vibe, but sometimes they’re sort of straight sweet romances. It is something you don’t see very often, especially in mainstream comics. You’ll see it in indie-comics but you don’t see it from Marvel and DC, because they focus on the superhero genre. That’s their moneymaking genre.
“There’s definitely a hole in the American comics industry … ,” Asselin said. “We’re not trying to do Americanized manga. We’re doing American romance comics. And I think that’s something that people haven’t really done since the ’50s and ’60s.”

The first cover, above is by Wada, and below are concept art by Sarah Winifred Searle (Whose name suggests she was born to draw regency romance comics) and a rough of the second issue by Yannick Pacquette.




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