Launching in February 2018 from Image, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, comes Twisted Romance, a four-issue weekly anthology miniseries with tales of love—love gone right, wrong, and everything in between. Each issue of this month-long romance event will feature 48 pages of content: a main comic story, a backup comic story, and a backup prose story.
Kind enough to take some time to speak with Comicosity, writer Alex de Campi and artists Katie Skelly, Alejandra Gutiérrez, and Trungles shared their thoughts on their work, romance, and collaboration.
Kelly Richards: Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background.
Alex de Campi: My name is Alex. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd at a pub in London and ended up writing comics. Then I met some more bad eggs and directed a bunch of music videos. All in all, it’s been a good life.
Katie Skelly: My name is Katie Skelly, I’m an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. I’m the creator of the comics Nurse Nurse (Sparkplug, 2012), Operation Margarine (Adhouse Books, 2014), and My Pretty Vampire (Fantagraphics, 2017).
Alejandra Gutiérrez: My name’s Alejandra Gutiérrez, I’m 23, I love long walks on the beach and I wanna be a veterinarian when I grow up. I’m a cartoonist from Barranquilla, Colombia (though most people think I’m from Southern California) but I currently live in the U.S. I like making auto-bio comics ‘cause I’m a narcissist, and sad romance stories ‘cause I’m a masochist. I was also part of the IDW Love Is Love anthology.
Trungles: I’m Trungles! I draw comics, mostly for myself and very occasionally for other people.
KR: What is it that draws you to romance as a genre?
AdC: I tend to write really hardcore thrillers. Maybe I’m overcompensating? I dunno. But I love to read romance. To believe that we’re all going to get our HEA (Happily Ever After). That there’s someone out there for us, no matter how damaged and difficult to love we are. I’ve been incorporating more and more sentimentality into my work, after I re-watched some work by my fave director (Sam Peckinpah) and I truly realised what a sentimental motherfucker he is beneath the macho veneer. Make ’em cry. They love you if you make ’em cry. So all that’s been bubbling around in my head for a while.
Then I got to a point where I was like, “fuck it, I’m going to write the girliest shit imaginable” because 1) I’m at a place in my career where I can do anything I want and 2) everything sucks right now so let’s write happy stories about emotions. And yeah, a lot of cool artists seem to work under the same delusions as me so we all Voltroned up to make a big book of heart feels, pant feels, and, er, murder. (Sorry, apparently I can’t totally shake the thriller thing.)
KS: I love the melodrama! Every sense is so heightened, it’s a great opportunity to draw crying women and dramatic phone calls and heartbreak. My favorite things!
AG: I guess romance is one of the realest things out there to make a story about, and I love making stories that feel genuine. My favourite stories to tell are sad ones, and the romance genre definitely lends itself to that.
T: I love romance because it’s so difficult to be cynical about it without breaking away from it completely. If you’re making a story about love, finding love, being in love, and figuring out what love means for you, there’s already something deeply real and sincere about it, even if you’re contending with your wildest and most high-flying fantasies. I love that.
KR: How did you get involved with Twisted Romance and how have you found collaborating on it?
AdC: It was my idea / fault! And the collaborations have been a DREAM. This book has so many moving parts: a weekly 48 pager with a main story, a prose story, and a backup comics story in every issue. There’s so much that could go wrong. And yet. We’re early. We have the book done early.
KS: Alex is a drinking/movie buddy and we talk comics a lot. It was very easy to say yes to this one!
AG: Alex messaged me one day asking me if I’d be interested in working with her on it and I was like “uh, duh”. Collaborating with Alex is really easy, she’s really good at writing for a specific artist’s strength, and she understands how much storytelling happens while drawing so she’s super cool about on-the-fly changes.
T: Alex asked me, and I said, “Sure maybe.” Then she sent me the script and I said, “Heck yes!”
I think one of the odd things that always surprises me about collaboration is that drawings take so long! I draw comics. I should know how long they take. But for some strange reason, I’m much less self-conscious about it when I draw for myself. I think deadlines help me gauge my sense of completion better, and there’s a sense of urgency and deliberation in figuring out how to satisfactorily pull together a bunch of images in a reasonable amount of time. Done is better than perfect, after all. But too much of me is insistent on making sure that everything must be perfectly and exactly just so.
KR: What are some of your favourite romance comics?
AdC: Most of my favourite romances are fanfic, tbh. My favourite couple in comics are Emp and Thugboy from Adam Warren’s EMPOWERED.
KS: I love some groovy-ass Girls’ Romances comics from the ’60s. I also love the romance comic within Elektra: Assassin. So funny.
AG: I’m a huge fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, Sina Grace’s Nothing Lasts Forever and Marian Churchland’s short comic in one of the Meathaus anthologies about a man and a dying dog. I don’t think most would qualify any of these as romance comics per se, but I would say maybe romance-adjacent? They have romance elements in them, and I love stories like that.
T: They tend to be manga since romance comics in the west weren’t much of a thing for most of my life. CLAMP is so good at starry-eyed romance that accompany coming-of-age fantasies. Cardcaptor Sakura comes to mind, and I’m sailing that Sakura/Syaoran ship to the ends of the earth. Rumiko Takahashi writes the best hatemances. That hate-to-love trajectory is just so much fun. I guess I also read tons of Archie comics digests growing up, so there’s a special place in my heart for the most saccharine cornball will they, won’t they romances. I love them all.
KR: Describe your story in 3 words…
AdC: I’ll leave this to my collaborators
KS: Evil disco drama.
AG: NO WIRE HANGERS!!!
T: Snakes. Spiders. Smooches.
Twisted Romance #1 hits stores February 7 and weekly after that!