Review: Love Minus Zero and other stories

Artist(s): Abraham Lee, C.J. Franks, J.T. Tepnapa, PK Eiselt.

What to do after you launch a post-apocalyptic love story between two boys? When you’re P.K. Eiselt, the writer of Junkyard Angels, you launch a gay-centric comics anthology. Which does sound like a good idea.

The first story from Love Minus Zero and other stories1, titled Cody’s Wish, is written by P.K Eiselt and J.T. Tepnapa, with art by C.J. Franks. It’s a sweet tale of unrequited love, drawn in a clean, cartoony style. The titular character is a young geek who’s lived through the summer with a secret crush on a hunky neighbor. Fortunately for him, his “fairy fabulous queen” appears at the right moment. What follows is a quirky take on that time-honored device of granting three wishes. The fairy doesn’t easily get it right (guess what effect “I wish I was his knight in shining armor” has on a literal-minded fairy) and that makes it very funny.

Far less light is The Ceremony, written by P.K. Eiselt from a story by Abraham Lee and drawn by Lee in a more realistic, manga-ish style. Set in a world which resembles our own but which is peopled by men and women with “soul gems” embedded in their chest, this story is a rumination about soulmates and the price you might have to pay to acknowledge your own. I must admit I didn’t think it completely worked, but that might be because of my opinion regarding “soulmates” (or the soul itself), or because it was so short that the subtleties of the ideas introduced here didn’t have enough room to be developed. It is certainly a moving story.

In Wager of Faith, you have two allegories chatting on a public bench. Reuniting Eiselt and Franks, this story sees an impeccably-dressed devil and a homeless-looking old angel debating the existence of faith in the modern world. Of course, the twist is that the angel (or is it a bearded Jesus?) thinks it’s all gone to, well, hell, while the devil won’t let him think they’re both outdated memes. If that’s the kind of discussion you’re interested in, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy it. It might not be the Valladolid debate, but it’s deeper than I might have made it sound.

Love Minus Zero, the last story, is by the same authors, but here, Franks uses a less cartoony style with lots of shadowing for what is the darkest story in this anthology. A young man meets another one in an Asian restaurant. It quickly becomes apparent that the men are breaking up, with one of them finding it hard to accept the reality of his loss. He’ll even start a fight with another client, in what looks like a doomed attempt to work through his frustration. I thought it was a powerful piece and it didn’t try to sugarcoat the situation.

With its common theme of love found and lost and its variety of tone and settings, this anthology is good addition to the always growing body of gay-themed anthologies. P.K. Eiselt is flexing his creative muscles, and I’ll be interested in following his next move.

  1. This 40-page anthology is available from Indy Planet.

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