What Gothic Horror Taught Me About Romance

In this short comic, Jaime unpacks the alluring combination of gothic tropes and queer love in some of his favorite stories.

"At the beginning of 2021 I made the goal to read more, a New Year's resolution that would have been an empty promise if it weren't for Carmilla."
The author in a red jumpsuit, reading Carmilla.
"The 2019 version edited by the spectacular Carmen Maria Machado transported me into the intense love story between the isolated Laura and seductive Carmilla."
"I couldn't pinpoint just one thing that drew me to it."
The author, making heart eyes and blushing while reading Carmilla.
"I mean, the first draw was obvious: It was about a lesbian vampire."
Three images: Carmilla whispering into a blushing Laura's ear, Laura with her back to the audience, standing in the grass and looking at a far off castle, and Carmilla with her fangs out, eyes marked out by the artist.
"But there was also Carmilla's sweet musings into Laura's ear as she swooped in on a lonely Laura stuck in her isolated manor (a relatable feeling during the pandemic)."
"Or maybe I was fascinated by a romance where the pursuer is not a nice person, and not in the brash, aloof way of Mr. Darcy."
"Carmilla was killing Laura, and Laura still welcomed her."
"I was in love with the book and would rave about it to most of my friends..."
The author on his computer, talking to two friends.
"... Two of which sat me down and showed me NBC's Hannibal."
The artist being blown away.
"Suffice to say, I loved it."
"The show starts as an almost comical crime procedural before diving into an intense romance between a serial killer and a conflicted investigator fighting his own inner taste for blood. Hannibal has traits of a vampire story, but I was primarily enraptured by the evolution of the leads' relationship, the transformation of them both as they accepted the deepest parts of themselves by loving each other."
Drawn clips from Hannibal — two mouths near each other, an angry stag, Hannibal's mask.
Carmilla and Hannibal, in shadow.
"Carmilla and Hannibal both of have the most important trademarks of a gothic: the mysterious, dark atmosphere, the supernatural, a gothic heroine (or hero), and a house."
Laura and Will in profile, eyes wide and unseeing. Two houses outlined, overlayed one on the other.
"These characters understood each other best by infiltrating the other's homes."
"Of course, Will and Laura's homes took precedence in the story as a setting where their houses became the physical manifestation of their loneliness, broken only by the appearance of their dangerous pursuers."
The outline of a gothic manor, two coffins with skeletons.
"But while Will and Laura's loneliness is palpable, Hannibal and Carmilla have their own flavor of loneliness, locked away from prying eyes."
"'Home is where the heart is' has never applied more than when Laura and Will both travelled into the depths of the abandoned castles of their lovers, tombs that served as a monument to what made them monsters."
"And it was through these two stories, but especially Hannibal, that I realized what I loved about gothic romance that other love stories were missing. As despicable and evil as he is to the audience, Hannibal is the first person to truly love and understand Will for every part of him."
A human and monster face overlayed.
"In gothic romance, there's no escaping the monstrosity of your lover, and by extension, yourself. In a way, this is comforting for people like myself who, in their moments of doubt, can feel like a terrible person for one reason or another."
Sparkling eyes, candy, ribbons.
"The trouble is, I feel like anyone could love me for my charm and beauty and wit. They might even be able to overlook my flaws for my kindness and passion."
Blood drips down, and monstrous and furry hand tenderly interlaces the hand of a human.
"But in these stories, the characters are not loved despite their evil, but because of it. And to me, there's no more compelling kind of love story than that."
Jaime Mosquera

Jaime Mosquera

Jaime Mosquera (he/they) is trans Colombian-American artist who is passionate about gothic romance and phantasmagoria in horror. He has been published in anthologies by Good Comics UK and Quindrie, and he lives in New Jersey with his family.
A collage featuring the top 10 crones of the year for 2023.

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As we spiral ever further towards certain catastrophe on this interminable mortal coil, there are some lights of hope that pass fleetingly by. Most often: the crones or otherwise eternal baddies found in all of our favorite escapist media. And so we present our top ten 2023 Crones of the Year.

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