This past year I mentioned a crowdfunding effort for a series of European LGBTQ manga anthologies, Frey and Freya (both named after Norse Gods.*) I jumped at the idea of getting it off the ground and have now had a chance to read it. And, it was fun and good. But while I read it, I realized that we really need to talk about something.
Young lesbian artists, may I ask you politely to stop saying you drew this “because there’s nothing like it out there”? Yes, there is. You may not know where to find it, or have seen it, but yes, yes it is “out there” and we’re long past this being a valid sentence. Just because you’ve never searched “Lesbian comics” or you don’t know about “Yuri manga,” does not mean something does not exist in the universe – just as series’ don’t end just because you stop following them. ^_^ We are at a point in human existence when it is both self-indulgent and foolish to insist that something doesn’t exist before you do it. It’s way more likely that you aren’t forging a brand-new never-been-done-path in LGBTQ storytelling, but are merely walking a well-trodden one. Other people are gay. Other people draw comics. Lesbian comics exist – and have existed for many years.
Also, crowdfunders, please make sure to print a few extra copies of your books, so when I review it, people can buy it. It’s depressing to say “Well, this was great, but you had to fund it to get one. Sorry.”
So Freya Anthology arrived and, like all anthologies, it has variable art and stories. A number of things really stand out to my American eye – the artists in this anthology, who are mostly from Sweden, like those from the Finnish anthology, Lepakkoluola, are way better at diversity than Americans and Japanese are. Also, I found the collection to be a really pleasant mix of fantasy, slice-of-real-life, history and sci-fi.
There were any number of stories about competent and strong women, although the girl-as-reward trope was too prevalent for my comfort. Balancing this out, there were few coming out stories, and even those were “go tell her you like her” rather than, “Do I like girls?”
The art styles are decidedly western – the one manga-inspired story, “Bubble” by Elise Rosberg, really stood out as an exception to the rule. Natalia Batista‘s wordless, and heavily black-and-grey work, “La Perte” was my personal favorite. The dark pages too my aback at first, but the story was solid, had emotional depth and the art really grew on me.
Art and Stories variable. It’s an anthology.
Overall – 7
An excellent anthology and one that I will gladly add to my growing “international” lesbian comic collection. I know that the Frey and Freya circle is making the round of European events, and they do have a Facebook page, and it looks like you you can order a copy directly from them, so definitely contact them!
*The Frey anthology will focus on gay relationships.