TWISTED ROMANCE #1 Review
Pants Feelings With a Side of Murder
February 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Romance comics have a long and often forgotten history in American comics. From the late 40s through the 60s, romance comics captured the imagination of readers young and old, known not only for their topical, if often melodramatic stories, but also for their strong focus on fashion and visual style. Many comics legends made their start in romance comics back in the day, and enjoyed it, no less: the emphasis on interpersonal drama rather than action, as well as a need to keep up with ever-changing style trends, allowed artists to explore and indulge in such fussy details as the glistening eyes of a heartbroken teen, or an exceptionally sumptuous silk skirt.
Though mainstream publishers gave up on romance comics by the ’70s for any number of debatable reasons, we at POME have drawn lots of personal and professional inspiration from the fashionable and emotional splendor of romance comics both within and outside the U.S., which is why we were delighted to discover Image’s new anthology miniseries, Twisted Romance. A new issue of Twisted Romance will be coming to readers every Wednesday in February, packed with 50-ish pages of stunning looks and fresh stories from some of our favorite creators.
We got a sneak peek of Twisted Romance #1, which lives up to its title. To start with, the format is a little unusual — a main story, written by Alex de Campi, is paired with a different creator’s art in every issue, followed by a short prose piece, and finished with a story by a solo cartoonist. The art in this first issue, even with only two comics stories, contains a refreshing diversity of style. Katie Skelly’s work on the main story, “Old Flames,” is a gorgeous, mod-ish take on a familiar noir narrative with a fun and pretty funny horror twist; and Sarah Horrocks’s “Red Medusa”— a surreal meditation on pain, loss, and monstrosity across the veils of time and death — is beautifully unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a romance anthology.
In between the two comics shorts, Magen Cubed’s “Leather and Lace” was a delightful queer romp that clearly took pleasure in playing with the tropes of the ever-popular supernatural romance, reading like an amazing fic of a favorite ship you didn’t know existed. While it was a little surprising to see prose in the middle of our preciousssss comicsssssss, it was by no means an unpleasant reading experience: in fact, it bridged the gap between the two comics stories quite neatly, and will hopefully draw in some readers who might not otherwise be fully sold on a comics anthology.
Above all, Twisted Romance #1 accomplishes that rare feat of paying homage to an oft-maligned and misunderstood genre without falling into the traps of either nostalgic sentimentality or clumsy parody. At once loving, subversive, creepy (in a good way), and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the kind of romance storytelling we want to see much, much more of, from as many voices and with as many fashion-forward splash pages as possible.