I am not a big fan of marriage. I don’t really get the point of maintaining an archaic institution. I mean, marriage had its purposes (mostly as a way to formally hand over ownership of a woman from her father to another man, or as a way to cement some kind of business or otherwise advantageous relationship by handing over a woman from one man to another), and when women were not free to actually have jobs and live by themselves, it was either get a husband or become a nun. So I get that marriage has had its place in various societies, but I don’t really see that it has a place anymore. And as a woman living in a Western country, even after all the hard-won advances for women over the past century, the idea that you will at some point get married still dominates. And then you will have kids, but first you will buy a house. And you will stop construction-papering your friend’s window with a sunny construction-paper adventure to cheer her up. And you will get ugly, expensive furniture. Basically, all of the traditional trappings of adulthood.
And I am not interested in those trappings. So when people I know tell me about their impending nuptials, my reaction is generally, “You’re getting married. Why?” Partly because I actually want to know what inspires people to marry each other, and partly because I would like it if people actually thought a little more about these things. Too often, people just do what is generally expected of them, which is a hell of a boring way to live. (This paragraph also applies to having children.)
But! One day in the faraway land of Japan, while we were shopping for books at the wonderland that is Nakano Broadway and having a discussion on this very topic, my friend C. wisely noted that for me, it’s subversive to not get married whereas for him, a gay man, it’s exactly opposite. And really, whatever I think or don’t think about marriage, it is one hundred percent ridiculous to prevent a portion of the population from taking part in the silly ritual. I mean, we don’t stop two same-sex people from signing any other legal contracts. (Or do we???)
To sum up: Marriage for everyone! (Ever since I read this, I have been not so into using the words “gay” and “marriage” adjacent to each other.) Other beliefs I cherish: Comics for everyone! You can imagine, then, how excited I was to discover the Little Heart Kickstarter. A comics anthology to support the fight for everyone to get married in Minnesota, where a particularly ugly homophobe movement was taking place? Please and thank you!
And like all Kickstarter projects that I back, I entered my credit card number, was excited for two days and then promptly forgot the whole business. Until a mysterious package arrived in the mail for me a few weeks ago! I puzzled over the return address as I walked back up the stairs to my apartment. Once inside, I tore the package open and discovered comics! The best thing to fall out of a padded envelope onto the floor because you weren’t being careful about how you opened it! (Please, no one send me anything fragile.)
At about twenty centimetres square, this tiny volume is basically perfect for taking around town with you to rub in the faces of any homophobes you might encounter. (Also, is it wrong that I keep typing “homophones” instead of “homophobes”? Do I secretly have it in for words that are spelled differently but sound the same?) It is also perfect for enjoying a wide variety of short comics.
It actually feels more like a group fanzine than a book and that is definitely a compliment. Filled with little tastes of this and that, the collection gives you a bunch a great artists with a very low cost of entry. Don’t care for a particular story? Don’t worry! It will be over in two pages! There are also a couple words without pictures pieces and a couple pictures without words pieces. Overall, a very nice balance and to trot out the old adage, something for everyone.
Also, probably, something to annoy everyone. For me, the annoyance did not come from the works, which ranged from I-don’t-care to this-is-fantastic, but the layout of the collection itself. The artists are credited at the front of the book “in order of appearance” in a list with names separated by dots. There are no page numbers. There are generally no titles to the pieces. There are also generally no signatures or other identifying markers inserted into the piece by the author. So as much as I would like to tell you which pieces were my favourites, I can’t. I think that I was utterly charmed by a depiction of a high school girl’s desperate crushes by Anna Bongiovanni, but I can’t be sure that it was actually by her. Page numbers at the very least would have been a great help. So lessons to comics artists: Please sign your work. At least then, even without page numbers, people writing about collections you are in can confidently refer to you.
Work that I loved that the artists signed somewhere included “Rooster Legs”, a great story with lovely strong lines about a gender-questioning kid who finds an incredible book at the library, by Ed Choy and Sam Sharpe; the comic-strip style pages by Marinaomi depicting a girl getting ready to propose to her boy, only to be confronted by a gay friend about getting married when he can’t; and Jeremy Sorese’s retro-tinged art portraying his worries and wonderings about marriage and how it works. One piece I really loved that was not signed (seriously, you guys! Sign your work!) was the wordless (except for sound effects) “The Lunatic” about a guy who falls in love with the moon, which was so utterly charming that I actually sighed with dreamy satisfaction at more than one point.
So if you are not a jerk who hates a subset of people based on characteristics they possess that will not affect you in any way, you should buy this book! A portion of the proceeds go to some people who are fighting the good fight, so you will win in two ways: you will get a great book and you will be helping to stop asshats and general asshattery. You will win so hard!