Comics are a lot more open about exploring queer stories than they ever have been before. From independent queer-focused creations to even blockbuster pride celebrations from the likes of Marvel and DC, the medium has taken big steps toward bringing more LGBTQ creators and their stories into the spotlight. A new anthology from A Wave Blue World wants to go even further and celebrate queer male love in all sorts of genres—and io9 has a look inside.
Young Men in Love, due out this summer, features 20 romance stories by queer, masculine-identifying and non-binary creatives, focusing on how the love between queer cis and trans men can transcend all sorts of genres. From piratical high-seas smooching to Sailor Moon style superheroics, from tales of near-future technologically enhanced smart-capitalism, to simple tales of young men having meet-cutes over their favorite comics, Young Men in Love is a celebration of queer storytelling in all the weird and wonderful ways queer stories can and should be told.
“For so many queer men, we grew up without any positive representation in media, and were always the punchlines, and the punching bags. Young Men in Love is an important book because it shows young queer kids they’re not alone, and that love is possible for them,” Matt Miner, one of the editors on the anthology—and the writer behind What Do I Get?, featuring art by Ian McGinty and colors by Bradley Clayton—told io9 in a statement provided over email. “With everyone’s massive effort, we’ve all created a book we wish we’d had when we were growing up, and it’s entirely created by writers and artists who are queer men or AMAB non-binary folks who have same-sex attraction. With this book we’re telling stories of men loving men from a place of complete authenticity, which is a uniqueness not always found in a marketplace littered with stories where straight folks are guessing what it’s like to be queer. No guesswork here!”
Part of what makes Young Men in Love so fun that its queer storytelling speaks to diversity of what the idea of Romance comics can be, not just telling contemporary tales of the queer male experience but ones that play with all sorts of genres. “We didn’t wish to curtail any of our brilliant creators’ creativity, so we left it up to them if they wanted to stick to slice-of-life or be more genre-bending, as long as it stuck to the core theme of a romance for young men of any identity,” Joe Glass, Miner’s fellow editor on the project and also another writer behind one of its stories, Love Yourself with artist Auguste Kanakis, added. “As a result, we got a diverse range of genres that really spanned the gamut, from slice-of-life to science fiction, to pirate adventures and ghost stories, even to folklore and myth.”
“Ultimately, I think this works in our favor. As a society, we seem to aim our fiction in such a binary fashion, with romance aimed at female audiences and male audiences having more action-oriented. It’s almost like we’re telling our young men—who grow into the adults of our society, of course—that romance is not for them, that they shouldn’t want or seek it,” Glass’s statement concluded. “Young Men in Love, in that respect, is about challenging that by saying that yes, romance is for you too and look how it can be part of anything.”
The full anthology features a host of stories by talent including writers such as Anthony Oliveira, Sina Grace, Terry Blas, and io9 alum Charles Pulliam-Moore (maybe you’ve heard of him!), and artists including Nick Robles, Hamish Steele, Daryl Toh, Jude Vigants, and many, many more. Every story in the anthology is lettered by Lucas Gattoni, who also designed Young Men In Love’s title logo.
Young Men in Love is set to hit shelves on July 5, 2022. io9 is excited to debut a few samples from some of the stories in the anthology in the following slides—click through to see pieces from Second Star to the Right, by Tate Brombal and Jacoby Salcedo; The Treasure Map to My Heart, by Oliver Gerlach and Daryl Toh; My Personal Super Scout, by Josh Cornillon; Tyrone & Jamal by Greg Anderson Elysée, David Brame, and Vincent Batignole; A Bard’s Beloved, by Jarrett Melendez and Josh Cornillon; and Bright Idea, by Charles Pulliam-Moore, Dennis Yatras, and Daryl Toh.