Review: Little Heart

Artist(s): Ed Choy, Jeremy Sorese, Maurice Vellekoop, Sam Sharpe.

Little Heart is a Kickstarter-funded anthology originally designed to coincide with the upcoming referendum in Minnesota to ban same-sex marriage in that state, but with the subtitle “A comic anthology for marriage equality”, it obviously aims wider. I knew very few of the contributors, but I’m happy to say that the variety of styles and point-of-views make that book a good tool to discuss the issue.

There are about two dozen artists involved in this project, so I can hardly write about all of them. I’ll just direct you to the official website, where you can find information about them, and I’ll write a few words about three contributions which stand out for me.

Love me forever! Oh! Oh! Oh! is Jeremy Sorese‘s contribution, and it’s the one that struck me most, visually speaking. His work, which I didn’t know, is fluid and dense, with color an integral part of the process. His choice of a personal story was also interesting, as he muses on his own view of marriage as a 23-year-old single gay man, compared to both his (straight) divorced parents marrying again late in their lives. It is heartfelt in the best meaning of the word, and remarkably self-aware.

Roosterlegs is a a completely different contribution, as it shows a queer kid, who might be trans, finding a book on queer and transgender animals. Writer Ed Choy and artist Sam Sharpe remind us that, since marriage equality is mostly talked about in terms of gay or lesbian couples, the T in LGBT is often overlooked. Sharpe’s art evoked for me Craig Thompson’s early work, while Choy’s story is able to say a lot about the subject in a few pages, including a welcome reminder that scientists were responsible for a long time (and some still are) of hiding information that made society uncomfortable (see Biological Exuberance for a large discussion of animal diverse behavior).

The last contribution I’d like to mention is Maurice Vellekoop‘s. A favorite artist of mine, Vellekoop surprised me here with a story that’s far from the delicious wackiness of his Gloria Badcock comic. I was certainly not expecting comic journalism from this Canadian artist, but that’s what he’s done here: Vellekoop interviews three married couples, one gay without children, one lesbian with a child and one gay who are divorcing. Marriage equality has been achieved in Canada since 2005 (and since 2003 in Ontario), which means that these people are able to discuss the subject with hindsight. It’s among the most restrained stuff I’ve seen him doing in comics, and it works very well. Those couples certainly don’t idealize marriage, but show us what it means (or meant) to them, personally and in their daily lives.

At almost 180 pages, Little Heart has a lot more to offer than I’ve shown here. You can read interviews with some of the artists involved on the project’s website, and you can buy a copy from 2D Cloud, the small-press publisher.

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