Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, and their love had to wait a LOT to become a possibility.
First: this is a story about love, true love, not the “do what you′re told” kind, or the “marry and have children” garden variety. The kind you wait for, and, sometimes, don′t get in a lifetime.
Tee Franklin raised a Kickstarter to promote this comic, and landed the deal in only five days. I think it is because her characters are smart, relatable and their story one that many LGBT people shared. I also think parents have evolved since the ’60s: where grandmothers chose to punish girls in love and made them marry young men and start families, I like to think we would be more tolerant with our own children. We would only be concerned about love, deserving love, a tough one for any human.
When Hazel and Mari meet again, they are grandmothers. They have husbands, and children, and grandchildren. Life is complicated and full of uncomfortable silences. Sometimes, a third person appears to break this: to force couples into talking, into telling the long list of unsaid things.
Sometimes, the talking heals the couple, and the third person disappears. More often than not (and usually, because we like to see ourselves as victims in the relationship, and not as co-creators), the couple ends up getting a divorce.
Tee Franklin wanted to talk about this. To talk about black men and women who had to hide their sexuality due to the time era, who stayed for the children, even when the love was gone. If I can get any experience after my parent′s own divorce, it’s that children are not an excuse. We cope, we heal, and we are happy to see our parents happy. And we assist to their second nuptials and hope for the best.
I loved Jenn St-Onge′s art, so sensual and sweet without being crass. The graphic novel is rated Young Adult, or for teens, and I think it′s a good introduction to the idea of old people falling in love again. Never mind it′s also LGBT. Its scope is far wider than that.
Especially for the third part: the story does not end in marriage. It does not end in Happily Ever After (although this bit is rosy and perfect in Hazel′s memories); it ends in old age. After some blissful years, Mari starts forgetting things: who she is, or where she is. And Hazel takes care of her, never failing her, always at her side, in the good and the bad times. That is also love, deserving love, the one that lasts forever.
Bingo Love will go on sale in comic shops on Valentine′s Day and in bookstores the following Tuesday, February 20.
Published by: Image Comics
Written by: Tee Franklin
Illustrated by: Jen St. Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT
Format: Softcover, 88 pages, Color
Age Rating: Young Adult (13-16)
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Release Date: 02/20/2018
Disclaimer: No money exchanged hands for this review. A complimentary copy was provided, all opinions remain my own.
Featured image by Adam Hughes