Some of you didn’t know you needed an anthology of queer paranormal romance comics, some of you having been waiting for this for a long time. Editors Melanie Gillman and Kori Michele Handwerker brought us The Other Side in 2016. It gathers twenty-four creators for nineteen stories of joy, romance, and resilience. Despite the abundance of ghosts, these are not stories of loss. In fact, as Gillman states in their preface, these are stories meant to counter the absence of queer folk in literature. Here’s our full review:

Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt / Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts / Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts

The collection passes in all areas, though some stories may only have two characters, meaning they don’t pass for female representation. For readers who want more stories by and about nonbinary, trans, and queer people, this anthology has some of everything, including diverse racial representation.

Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts

The stories and artistic styles are varied so I’ll call out a few comics I especially liked to give you an idea of the content:

Till Death by Gisele Jobateh

This comic tackles heritage and how home continues after death. I liked the lovers’ dynamic and the perfect ending.

Ouija Call Center by Mari Costa

This story’s funny concept was capped with a cute ending when a woman tries to contact her deceased ex-boyfriend.

Beneath My Breath Above My Gaze by Kou Chen

A person’s connection to the mountain lasts a lifetime in this story. A few of the comics indulged in natural imagery to great effect, and this was one of them. I enjoyed the open-ended and contemplative conclusion.

Shadow’s Bae by Bitmap Prager and Melanie Gillman

Love interests supporting and defending one another? Count me in! This story’s cute concept (a monster bad at being a monster) and well-paired couple drew me in.

Another reason the anthology gets full points here: it’s highly re-readable. I like glancing through individual stories every now and then. All are short and sweet, but contain layered characters and thought-provoking situations.

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Above and Beyond General Media = 5/5 pts

I think you can already guess why this anthology has full points here. As Melanie Gillman writes, “I didn’t have queer books growing up. What I did have for much-needed escapism was paranormal romance…[In The Other Side] we have placed queer characters and queer creators front and center.”

Honestly their whole preface is excellent, so be sure to check it out. It’s nice to call out the importance of representation in the beginning, and then let the stories choose to whether they want to mention discrimination, absence, or other harmful experiences. While many of the comics did, others focused primarily on love 🙂

I also loved the nod to speculative fiction as a place to make people feel less weird, and less alone.  This anthology furthers that reputation. It’s the one I want for all science fiction and fantasy. Here’s hoping this anthology gets into the right hands!

You can buy The Other Side here.

Score: 15/15

Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity image, a yellow number 15 inside of a pink Venus symbol

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