(portion of Bingo Love cover. Picture credit: Bingolovecomic.com)
Last year for Ebony, I wrote about upcoming indie graphic novel Bingo Love, created by Tee Franklin and illustrated by Jenn St-Onge (Jem & The Misfits) and colorist Joy San. The book has now hit the market (and the hands of those fans eager to read its pages), and if you happen to be in Chicago this April, Franklin will be at Chicago’s biggest comic book and entertainment expo, C2E2 this April!
If you’re just now hearing about Bingo Love, let’s get you caught up to speed. The graphic novel puts same-sex relationships at its center, featuring a decades-long love story between two women of color. As the press release states:
“At its heart, BINGO LOVE is a powerful and timely exploration of love that spans decades. Tee deftly tells the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray which begins amidst the tumultuous backdrop of the 1960s. A chance meeting at a church bingo hall one Sunday brings Hazel and Mari together. As young teens they embark on what promises to be a lasting friendship. As they mature that friendship blossoms into the hope of something more until their families forbid them to see one another. Eventually they are pressured to each marry men and have families only to reunite at a bingo hall on Mother’s Day years later as grandmothers in their mid ‘60s. Their long buried feelings resurface and cast doubt on each of their life choices.”
The graphic novel is also revolutionary for another reason; in record time, Bingo Love raised $60,000 on Kickstarter, ensuring the project’s success and taking it over the initial $20,000 goal.
“I can’t even lie …I cried like a baby,” Franklin told me when I interviewed her for Ebony. “I could not believe that we [were] funded in five days .People believed in me. That people wanted something that I put together, that I created…it just brought me to my knees.”
Tee, a queer, disabled black woman creator, was also featured on both the SYFY Fangrrls List of Most Influential Women in Genre and the Bleeding Cool List of the Top 100 Most Powerful People in Comics.
Teen Vogue and comic book legend Gail Simone have also hailed Bingo Love as a much needed perspective in comics.
“BINGO LOVE is a phenomenal comic featuring two strong queer, women of color falling in love as teens and rekindling that love as older adults,” wrote Teen Vogue. “This fresh take on a second chance at love is so very welcome and necessary, with a hard-hitting storyline that asks important questions about sexuality, societal demands, and living on your own terms. . . . Told through playful and boldly colored artwork, this is a story full of determination, courage, and passion that runs from youth to adulthood and beyond.”
“Just a reminder that I predict BINGO LOVE is going to be an international bestseller…I am so proud of Tee Franklin,” wrote Simone. “A lot of doors were closed so she chainsawed her own, and made the best new comic. Amazing.”
Franklin will be available for signing copies of Bingo Love during C2E2 at the South Building at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL April 6 through April 8. If you want to see Franklin before then, you can catch her March 17 at The Comic Book Shop (1855 Marsh Rd.) in Wilmington, DE, where she’ll be available between 11 am and 3 pm.
Here’s more about Franklin and St-Onge:
Tee Franklin is a queer disabled black woman whose comics work includes: The Outfit (in Nailbiter #27), A Blazin’ (in the Ignatz award-winning Elements anthology) and, Tears (in the Eisner-winning and The New York Times Best Selling Love is Love anthology). Franklin created her own publishing company, Inclusive Press, in order to publish her own comics, as well as comics by other marginalized creators. Her first graphic novel Bingo Love won the 2017 Queer Press Grant and raised almost $60k via Kickstarter and is now published by Image Comics. Franklin resides in New Jersey with her three children. She’s an activist, a public speaker, and a constant Tweeter who can be found @MizTeeFranklin.
About the Artist:
Jenn St-Onge (aka “Princess Jem”) is the Canadian illustrator/comic artist behind IDW’s Jem & the Misfits and Emet Comics’ Finding Molly series. She’s the princess of coffee-loving cat ladies and currently lives just outside Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, four cats, and one doggo. Check out Jenn’s artwork on her site.