Sometimes, a comic book is simultaneously so sweet and so devastating that you devour it all in one sitting, your chest filled with an emotion you can’t quite name. That was my experience reading Bingo Love, originally funded last year through a Kickstarter by Inclusive Press.
Now, the book has been acquired by Image Comics, and the first edition will hit stores on Valentine’s Day. (The second printing hits stores in March.)
It’s an appropriate release date for this tale, which follows the love story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray. When they meet at church bingo in 1963, it’s love at first sight — but the girls’ families (and society at large) force them apart. They both marry men and raise families, leading separate lives, only to meet again at a different church bingo 50 years later.
Realizing that their love has never faded, Hazel and Mari make the brave decision to pursue the romance they always wanted but never had.Sometimes, a comic book is simultaneously so sweet and so devastating that you devour it all in one sitting, your chest filled with an emotion you can't quite name. #BingoLove Click To Tweet
Bingo Love is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. Hazel’s narration is incredibly honest, not only about her feelings for Mari, but about the reasons they couldn’t be together no matter how much they loved each other. Her life is one that is filled with love, laughter, and family, but she struggles to be truly happy because this life ultimately isn’t what she wants.
What she wants is Mari, and the fact that they are able to reunite is absolutely amazing. After so many years, they’re offered a second chance, and taking it requires a ton of bravery for both of them.
We only see Hazel’s point of view, but the hyper focus on her experience is beautiful. It hurts to watch Hazel confront the reality that she has to tell her family the truth about herself and her life-long love. Her struggle to come out to her family — particularly her husband — is well-rendered and painful to read, but also incredibly powerful.#BingoLove is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. Click To Tweet
I highly recommend having tissues at hand when you dive into this book; there are moments — both good and bad — that will make you ugly cry. Bingo Love is a great example of why we need more LGBT representation in comics, as well as why we need more non-white protagonists who are allowed to live messy, complex lives and make messy, complex decisions.
Writer Tee Franklin is a black, queer, disabled woman whose work is super refreshing, especially against the backdrop of white supremacy pouring out of major comics publishers every day. Bingo Love is fleshed out by illustrator Jenn St-Onge, colorist Joy San, letterer Cardinal Rae, and editor Erica Schultz. This creative team is fantastic, and represents some of the best work in comics today.
The only place where Bingo Love really struggles is its pacing — which I think would be solved by a longer book. I wanted more time to sit in Hazel’s emotions and see her with Mari, both when they’re young and when they’re old. I also wanted more lead-up to the twist at the end of the book, which felt a bit fabricated in the overall context of the story.
Still, if you haven’t pre-ordered Bingo Love yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s absolutely worth your time, your money, and your attention.
Bingo Love Rating: ★★★★☆
Bingo Love is an original graphic novel that hits comic shops on February 14. In Full Bleed received an advanced copy PDF of the book from Image Comics for review purposes.