I Feel Love
Cartoonists: Krent Able, Anya Davidson, Julian Hanshaw, Benjamin Marra, Cat Sims, and Kelsey Wroten
Editors: Hanshaw and Able
In the I Feel Love anthology, edited by Julian Hanshaw and Krent Able, romance is shoved to the forefront – whether that’s where you want it or not! In six comic stories that comprise this anthology, unconventional love stories serve as the focal point, as suggested by the distinctive cover by Able.
Although I Feel Love is a companion anthology to the previously released I Feel Machine, I am not familiar the previous collection, which did not affect my enjoyment of this one. I Feel Love delivers six stories that feel, read, and look wildly different from one another… and yet each feels entirely at home in this collection. Better yet, there isn’t a story here that isn’t worth a second glance.
Six comic stories
The anthology opens with “Teen Swamp Monster Love” by Benjamin Marra, which marries a freaky “weird monster” story with a first sexual encounter story. It reads like a cautionary tale mixed with a science fiction narrative, and is just generally fun to look at, thanks to the pulpy flare of the art.
“Hurt/Comfort” by Anya Davidson explores the realm of slash fic, and what I particularly liked about this story is the way that the original I.P. that inspires the fan-fiction – an all-too plausible television show called “Witches Granted” – is presented in the same fashion as the slash fiction that is based upon it, collapsing the distinction between the “original” characters and the “slash” versions (at least in relation to the central character in the story). Plus: special shout-out for including “Chewbacca & BB8” in the top 3 possible ships.
“I Want to Watch” by Hanshaw is perhaps the most grounded comic in the anthology, and follows a husband who wants to watch his wife with another man. This comic’s detailed but cartoony art is ideally suited to convey the central character’s emotional roller coaster, which goes about as well as you’d expect it to… but maybe not for exactly the reasons you’d expect.
“Black Balloon” by Able is paradoxically both the most traditional love story in the bunch and the least traditional. That’s because the basic narrative structure – some kind of special agent infiltrates a shady organization and falls in love with one of the individuals he liberates – is more or less conventional. However, every single detail of the story has been given a surreal twist, so while you may be able to guess the upcoming story beats, you’ll never expect exactly the way they land.
In “The Anchor “ by Kelsey Wroten, we get a tale of medieval penance. At first glance, you may wonder how this story fits into the overall theme, but by the time you’ve reached the final page, it will be clear precisely how this unusually haunting comic fits into I Feel Love. Plus, the color in this comic is exceptionally arresting.
And finally, “The Burgeoning” by Cat Sims takes a tale that follows several generations of love and childbirth… but rather than telling a heartwarming story that follows a family through the ages, the narrative instead takes the form of a horror story. This comic must also be noted for including some truly excellent lettering, especially on the first and last pages.
I Feel Love, collectively
Each of the comics in this collection has its own aesthetic and narrative strengths, as well as enough thematic material for you to chew on long after the cover is closed.
However, the collection really shines thanks to the arrangement of the stories. The first and last stories are well balanced against one another, with the “weird comics” elements of “Teen Swamp Monster Love” and “The Burgeoning” each including strange genre elements. At the center of the collection, “Black Balloon” and “I Want to Watch” are each familiar yet unexpected, but in very distinct ways, making them an ideal pairing. And both “Hurt/Comfort” and “The Anchor” focus on characters that are – at least in one sense or another – isolated and by themselves.
Individually, all six of these comics are fantastic, and together, they make an anthology that you’ll want to keep reaching for again and again (and hey – that’s a much better choice than calling your ex, trust us).
I Feel Love is available from your local comic shop or library today, or through the SelfMadeHero website.
If you’d like to take a look inside the book, there is also a sampler available.