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Exclusive preview: Fresh Romance #1 revives an underexplored comics genre

Romance is a genre that doesn’t get much play in the comics world anymore. But editor Janelle Asselin is hoping to change that with Rosy Press, a new digital publisher that specializes in “romantic fiction and nonfiction aimed at a diverse readership.” There’s clearly an audience for the material, because the Kickstarter for Rosy Press’ first publication, the comics magazine Fresh Romance, raised almost double its goal amount on Kickstarter. The first issue of Fresh Romance is on sale today at the Rosy Press website and on Comixology, and features three considerably different takes on the genre—each written and drawn by women—along with bonus materials like process art and a relationship advice column.

The first issue gives readers a lot of reasons to come back, and The A.V. Club has an exclusive preview of the second story, “Ruined,” a Victorian-era tale about a young woman entering an arranged marriage when her heart belongs to someone else. Written by Sarah Vaughn, co-writer of Image’s Alex + Ada (one of The A.V. Club’s Best Comics of 2014), with beautifully delicate art by Sarah Winifred Searle, this preview immediately establishes a sense of melancholy that shouldn’t define a young woman’s wedding day. Searle’s nuanced character expressions make Catherine’s emotions very clear, and although her mother is telling her she’s moving forward, there’s nothing to suggest that it’s a path Catherine wants to actually be on. With just these four pages, Fresh Romance sets itself apart from most monthly comics, telling a grounded, emotionally rich story about lost love in a past time.

Cover by Kevin Wada

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