The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida last summer was a gut-punch to the queer community. A lot of us came out the next day in solidarity… I was already “out,” but posted about it on Facebook for the first time. I wanted to do something to help, and I felt like not being as out as possible would be like trying to distance myself from the people who had been targeted.
Love is Love arrives in the same kind of spirit: Pride in the face of tragedy, and an effort to help in any way possible. It’s a comic anthology from IDW, with support from DC Comics, written and published in support of the Pulse nightclub shooting victims in Orlando, Florida. The book’s been available digitally since the end of December, and in oversize paperback format as of this week. All the writers and artists donated their work, and all proceeds go to Equality Florida. (Full list of creators here on the IDW site).
The content is mostly one- or two-page comic vignettes, with some art pages and poetry. Its 160 pages of those, so its not really something to read straight through, but my heart couldn’t take doing that anyway. Not all of the comics deal with the shooting directly, many are statements about love and discrimination connected only by the theme, but many of the scenes show bodies or even the shooter entering the building. Please be prepared and exercise caution if that may be too much.
In general the art shows a variety of skin colors and ethnicities, but very few of the comics addressed the fact that the shooting happened on a LatinX night, and it would’ve been better to do that more. I also thought the introduction from Patty Jenkins was in slightly poor taste, although well-meant. But the book itself is an outpouring of artistic support, and while any anthology is a mixed bag, the dominant message I took away was one of strength and pride, the determination to keep on loving, to remember and fight.
The collection has a polished indie vibe, and I plan on checking out a lot of the artists’ other work. The prominent appearances from DC and Archie Comics characters were also very welcome, though — they show institutional backing from a company that is often problematic, and they give us a chance to see the characters we love supporting us and being affected along with us. I also loved the page about Atlanta and Backstreet, because I live near the city and Backstreet was an icon here. In my professional capacity as historian, I’ve handled documents from its founder and interviewed people who remember dancing there. I’m not the biggest clubgoer by a long shot, but that doesn’t matter, because these places have symbolized a kind of scrappy queer freedom for decades and they connect us.
If you can, go out and buy Love is Love, especially in paper form — it’s a case where you really don’t get the full impact from an ebook. If your bookstore doesn’t carry it, ask. It’s a little thing you can do to show your support for the Pulse victims and for queer comic books, and you’ll get a quality art book in return.