Twisted Romance #2: Love In All Forms Is A Beautiful Thing

by Richard Bruton

Ah, romance. It comes in all shapes and sizes; there shouldn’t be any rules to it, no one telling you the right way to fall in love, the right person to fall in love with. When you know you know.

And that’s where issue #2 of Twisted Romance takes us. I enjoyed Twisted Romance #1 (review here). But I loved Twisted Romance #2. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Where the first issue of Twisted Romance had a horror and supernatural flavor to it, this second issue is all about unexpected romance, finding love when you don’t expect it. Three tales of romance, the sort of thing mainstream comics just doesn’t cover enough anymore. And in each romance, there’s a celebration of gender/sexual/body diversity simply by not making a big deal of it. Just as it should always be.

The format is still the same; kicking off with the main tale by coordinator/wrangler Alex De Campi, this issue illustrated by the wonderful Alejandra Guitierrez. On the flip side, there’s a short backup strip, here by Meredith McClaren, and between the two you’ll find a short prose story from Vita Ayala.

(Twinkle & The Star, by Alex De Campi and Alexandra Guitierrez)

Lead off story; Twinkle & The Star, by Alex de Campi and Alejandra Guitierrez, is absolutely the best thing in Twisted Romance so far, and frankly, the next two issues will have a hard time beating it. In fact, there’s a really good chance this will be on a best of year shortlist from me.

It looks fabulous, and it reads perfectly, de Campi again switching up her writing to service the artist’s style. And oh, what style Guitierrez has, a little bit Western manga with a twist at times, it’s forever playful, poppy, colourful, and just downright fun.

As for the tale itself, it’s all about young Twinkle finding a very unexpected, and unconventional kind of love. Twinkle’s the assistant for Raymond X, fashion photographer. And by assistant, think dogsbody, fetching and carrying, morning coffee runs, studio setups and the like. All the dumb shit you’d expect from a needy photographer and even needier models. The opening page gives you most of what you need to get her straight away. Body positive, full of sass, but still pissed that she has to be thinking of calories.

I really try to be the beau ideal of the self-loving, body-positive fattie.
Some days I manage it.
Most days I fake it.

Things change for Twinkle the moment HE walks in…

Too late Twinkle. The pretty white boy is the impossibly cute young movie star du jour. But what chance does she have with all those half naked models hanging around? But maybe he’s not the usual shallow actor type after all?

A few emails lead to a first date over coffees, leads to dinner, leads to…well, that’s where we’ll leave it. But he certainly seems to be pretty perfect, even when Twinkle asks him what the hell he’s doing with her instead of all those models throwing themselves at him. Oh, he’s got the perfect answer for that one…

To them, I’m like the season’s trendy handbag. Something they’re supposed to want. To be seen with. Even if it doesn’t suit them at all.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? There’s always a catch. Except here the catch you don’t see coming. Not quite. Poor Twinkle.

The beauty of this one is that it’s a modern updating of a classic Rom-com And it’s absolutely fabulous. De Campi’s tale is simple, but sassy, fun and funky. And the art just pops from the page. Gorgeous.

(Would You Even Know It? by Meredith McClaren)

The backup strip this time round is Meredith McClaren‘s Would You Even Know It? Again, it’s all unconventional romance, this time in answer to the question of the title.

Just what would you do if you started chatting online with someone who said they were a something? When does A.I. become more? And can you have a relationship with one? Fall in love with one? That’s what McClaren’s asking here. And asking damn well.

“Are we in love?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s it supposed to feel like? And how would we even know that we would understand it the same way?”
“No clue.”

Just a conversation. Or more. Two people or maybe two individuals. Deciding if they’re in love, attracted to each other, and trying to decide, just like the rest of us, what the hell it all means anyway. AI or human, there are things we all want to know.

And finally, tucked in between the two comics, you have Vita Ayala‘s prose Back at Your Door. And it’s a lovely fit between the two comics, again tying in to this issue’s theme of diverse romance.

Uni student Luz doesn’t know whether she wants cute Adrienne with the dimples, or Maddison Anderson, Luz’s high school straight girl crush? Oh, if only it were that simple, eh? Another complicated, diverse, relationship, without fanfare, just as it should be.

“Luz cracks open an eye. Before her stands a girl with long dark curls, warm brown eyes, and deep dimples on her cheeks when she smiles.
Under pain of death, Luz would admit she is a sucker for dimples.”

Twisted Romance, with its theme switching up every issue is proving to be an excellent read. The horror theme of issue 1 was good. But this issue takes it up to beautiful and brilliant. Dealing with true romance, however, it turns up, whoever it’s between, Twisted Romance is doing great, great things.

Twisted Romance # 2, published by Image Comics. Twinkle & The Star written by Alex De Campi, art by Alejandra Guitierrez. Back At Your Door by Vita Ayala. Would You Even Know It? by Meredith McClaren.