Young Men in Love
Haphazard pirates, wayward ghosts, dashing knights, rampaging kaiju (and down-to-earth regular joes!) are all assembled here to amaze and delight you in a wildly unique anthology celebrating love between men, from an astounding array of comics creators who know exactly how it feels.
Pride Month is behind us, but A Wave Blue World’s new anthology Young Men in Love reminds us that queer love deserves to be seen and celebrated all year round. Bringing together a host of industry talent (including Kevin Wada, Sina Grace, Hamish Steele, Anthony Oliveira, Chris Shehan, Nick Robles, Chris Sebela, and Joe Glass – among many others), Young Men in Love collects twenty wide-ranging love stories about men who love men.
The pessimistic among you may think “Oh, great! Twenty stories of white twinks and a couple of bears if we’re lucky,” that couldn’t be further from the truth. The characters in Young Men in Love’s love interests include Black men, brown men, fat men, and trans men. Truthfully, the only place this anthology fall short in its representation is its lack of disabled queer men. In twenty stories – meaning forty main characters – at least one would have been nice to see.
In terms of its stories, Young Men in Love is refreshingly wide-ranging in tone and genre alike. For readers in search of a respite from reality, there are plenty of fantastical stories to be found including a bittersweet adaptation of Peter Pan (“Second Star to the Right”), a seductive ghost romance (“Living”), and a comedy about pirate paramours (“The Treasure Map to my Heart”). Even when restrained to the mundane, Young Men in Love continues to make queer love feel limitless in its multitude of people and circumstances. Some of these stories are thematically heavy but vital, focusing on topics like a boy’s internalized homophobia in Catholic school (“Act of Grace”) and a fat comic geek’s struggles with fetishization (“Love Yourself”). Nonetheless, although Young Men in Love never attempts to erase queer pain and suffering, it priviledges queer love, joy, and hope. This is nowhere clearer than “Another Name,” a beautiful but heart-wrenching autobiographical comic by Ned Barnett (drawn by Ian Bisbal) about coming out as a trans man: while the story may confront the writer’s struggles with learning to accept himself and fear of being rejected by his husband, its conclusion is one of hope and affirmation. Of course, not all of the “down to earth” comics are heavy. Some leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling, with the heartwarming chip shop romance “Big Man” being just one example.
Artistically speaking, the pages of Young Men in Love feel vibrant and lively from the first page to the last. Artistic styles range from semi-realistic to expressive cartooning and everything in between. Though most artists work with traditional layouts, some (like Jacob Salcedo in “Second Star to the Right” and Ian Brisbal on “Another Name”) challenge normative boundaries just as the protagonists of their stories do.
While it takes only a couple of hours to read, each individual short story is something to be treasured and savored. And even if every story isn’t your cup of tea, something almost surely will be, so I urge you to give Young Men in Love a chance.
Young Men in Love is just as stunning as it is essential. It reminds queer readers that they – across all times, places, and genres – are worthy of love and celebration.
Young Men in Love: A Queer Romance Anthology to Fall in Love With
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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