The Other Side is a queer paranormal romance anthology largely funded by Kickstarter that debuted in Spring 2016. I first came across it when I attended a small indie comic expo in Boston where a lot of the contributing authors were attending. I was originally looking for pretty much anything in the romance genre that I could review, but The Other Side is unique like most anthologies in that it features a variety of authors and styles I can talk about. It features 19 stories from 23 different authors focusing on queer romance in a paranormal setting, so anything from the love between human and ghost or human and monster, though the stories don’t stop there. With primarily PG-13 content, this anthology looks to showcase underrepresented groups such as gay/lesbian, transsexual, and everything in between.
The comics are relatively short, between 4 and 12 pages long, but for most of the authors, they managed to convey touching and interesting stories in that short amount of space. Here are some of my favorites:
- “Black Dog” by Fyodor Pavlov: This short comic starts the anthology off strong with a story about a hunter who is being followed by a black dog. The art is gorgeous which means the characters are too. Pavlov manages to convey a very interesting and unique story in just a short amount of space while using very little dialogue.
- “Halo” by F. Lee: This comic struck me with its beautiful art style that looked like it would be more at home in watercolor than a black and white anthology, but nonetheless it was able to play with the concept of light and dark for great impact. I would have definitely liked to have seen what this would look like as a watercolor comic however, as some of the tones came out too dark in comparison to the line art. Lee also plays with panel layout in what I think is the most creative ways I saw in the anthology.
- “Beneath My Breath Above My Gaze” by Kou Chen: This comic uses a more Asian centric story and art to tell a tale of aging and love for nature. The art is solid with detailed backgrounds and great character design. Even with the limited space, Chen made space for impactful splashes and large panels that helped give her mountain setting a grand feel.
- “Ouija Call Center” by Mari Costa: I think Costa had one of the most unique ways to use the paranormal motif for her comic. Combined with her art style, this comic wound up being very cute and almost made me wonder what she could do with the idea given more space.
- “Pulpit Point” by Amelia Onorato: I think I mainly liked this comic because it was generally enjoyable. The characters were cute and it had some moments that made me laugh. The art is really strong, and I don’t think I would have minded seeing where this story went if it had more space.
- “Threnody” by Bishakh K. Som: This comic was a good choice to close out this anthology. Incorporating Indian mythology, Som tells an interesting story about urbanism, religion, and ageing.
Melanie Gillman and Kori Michele Handwerker collected a lot of great pieces for The Other Side. Paranormal romance has always been one of my go-to genres whether it’s novels or comics, and I think the artists showcased in this anthology offer up some very interesting and sometimes different stories. The best comics were definitely the ones that did something different with the motif or their art that helped them stand out from the rest.
I admire these editors for putting something like this together especially with a predominantly queer romance theme, however I did feel left wanting for some different types of paranormal creatures. It seemed like almost the whole anthology was ghost love stories or stories involving people who have died or were going to die. I definitely would have liked to see more variance in this area with maybe more vampires or werewolves or folklore/urban legend characters to help spice things up. But overall, I did really enjoy The Other Side.
Interested? Find more info about this anthology here.
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