Hope Nicholson writes for Bleeding Cool:
A Brazilian journalist in exile discovers love under the fiery touch of a ghostly lord.
Two young lovers are caught in a Vietnam minefield under attack.
A pregnant slave in 1800s Barbados faces off against vicious demons.
Horror and love are powerful concepts individually. When they're combined, though, they become something spectacularly unique! That's why I'm excited to be the publisher of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, a comics anthology edited by myself (Hope Nicholson) and S. M. Beiko (co-curated by Nyala Ali) on Kickstarter until September 12th!
The gothic romance genre in comics was present in stories in both romance and horror comics. But it was with the influence of the television program Dark Shadows in the late 1960s that led to the birth of the spectacularly twisted 1970s comic genre focused solely on gothic romance. Titles such as Charlton's Haunted Love and DC's Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love sprung up, focusing on the darker side of love and lust. Now, it's likely they cropped up as a last-ditch effort to save the romance genre which, due to its musty, formulaic tropes, and decline of female readership due to the direct market, was in a sharp nosedive (they would soon all-but-disappear, cropping up only occasionally until a new boom in webcomics brought them back to full-life).
The majority of these stories featured a young, innocent woman (often clothed in a flowing white gown) who enters a mysterious mansion with dangerous inhabitants, one of whom is irresistibly seductive.
Sometimes they are ghosts and werewolves too, the comics genre of gothic romance was definitely more fixated on the supernatural than Jane Austen!
Whether this love interest is a fellow hero or a dangerous menace depends on the story! Sometimes they are set in exotic locales, but by and large, most of these stories focused on young American heroines entering into them.
That's where our anthology differs.
This isn't just brooding lords and virtuous ladies. These aren't just heterosexual ghostly love affairs. This isn't just nice American girls as the heroes! These are stories that span across the world, across all eras, and across all types of people — and supernatural beings.
Artists and writers in this collection include creators known for their work in print comics such as Cecil Castellucci (Shade: the Changing Girl), Ray Fawkes (Gotham by Midnight), David Lafuente (Ultimate Spider-Man), Sarah Winifred Searle (Faith), Janet Hetherington & Ronn Sutton (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) as well as established illustrators and webcomic cartoonists such as Willow Dawson, Hien Pham, Nika, H. Pueyo, and many more!
This collection, inspired by the short-lived 1970s genre, wouldn't be right without a look back at the history. Comics historian Jacque Nodell (sequentialcrush.com) will be providing a historical overview of the genre, and we are featuring a restored reprint of a very unusual gothic romance comic from the 1970s. This comic is called "The Promise" by Sanho Kim, and is a gothic romance inspired by a Korean folk tale and presented in dual Korean and English – just as it was originally printed by Charlton Comics over 40 years ago!
Being able to promote talented creators who don't yet have a foothold in the print comic world along with established names, and being able to commission new stories while nodding to the success of the past, is something that makes Gothic Tales of Haunted Love an unusual and unique anthology. I hope you'll enjoy the project.