by Latonya Pennington
Black queer romance in comics is hard to come by. In mainstream comics, Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda is the only series to depict romance between two black queer women. There are only a handful of QTPOC in Marvel and DC Comics and almost all of them have romantic moments or relationships with white queer characters.
Regardless of sexual orientation, there is nothing wrong with being an interracial relationship. However, not depicting intraracial QTPOC romance suggests that it isn’t as valuable and that QTPOC are rare. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially since a lot of QTPOC read and create comics. One creator, Tee Franklin, has taken things into her own hands.
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Tee Franklin is a queer, disabled comic book writer and fan who recently started a Kickstarter for her comic Bingo Love. Together with artist Jenn St. Onge, colorist Joy San, and letterer Cardinal Rae, she has made a much-needed comic.
What can you tell us about “Bingo Love”?
Think of Bingo Love as Black Mirror’s ‘San Junipero’ episode meets Moonlight. Bingo Love is a Queer Black romance novella – two beautiful young Black girls meet at a bingo hall, eventually fall in love with each other, but unfortunately being set in 1963 poses all types of problems.
How did you go about creating Hazel and Mari and developing them from teens to elderly women?
I wanted to show how Hazel and Mari fall in love with each other as young teens and find each other again decades later, while being married to the men that their families demanded them to be with “til death do us part”.
What are some of the artistic influences on the comic?
I’d say the only artistic influences I have on this book, is music from the 1970’s – 1980’s. The Gap Band, Freddie Jackson, The Stylistics, etc. Those songs play while I’m writing Bingo Love, it transports me into a zone and the words just flow.
In the sixties, many black queer women couldn’t be out due to McCarthyism, homophobia, and racism. How will these circumstances impact how Hazel and Mari view themselves and each other?
Can’t spoil that for you, but I will say that you definitely will need tissue, because it will hit you in the gut.
Besides creating comics, you have also been very supportive of black comic creators through your Twitter hashtag, #BlackComicsMonth. If you could work with any black comic creator, who would it be and why?
I am extremely supportive of my people. Black comic creators do not get enough acknowledgment and creating #BlackComicsMonth was my way of getting these creators out there. Interviews, blogposts, and panels, I wanted people to purchase their books and support them. Our stories need to be told; they are vital. If they weren’t vital, then Bingo Love wouldn’t have been funded in 5 days.
Wake up publishers!
My dream artist to work with is Brian Stelfreeze, this man’s art is just so daggone beautiful. Lucky for me, I’ll be working with him on Femme Magnifique project – a short story about Michelle Obama. I’m truly excited.
What do you hope readers take from your comic?
Love is Love is Love is Love. Everyone should be free to love and not be afraid, shamed, and punished to love whomever they choose.
Is there anything else about Bingo Love people should know?
I have such a talented inclusive team. This book would be nothing without Jenn St-Onge’s art, Joy San’s color, Erica Schultz’s editing and Cardinal Rae’s lettering. Right now we’re at $32k and we want to get this book in the hands of as many people as possible. We thank everyone out there for their support.
Bingo Love is such an important story for our community. I know that there are elderly Black women and men who have or are going through what Mari and Hazel are going through. Hiding your true love for someone for decades is painful, and while you are “comfortable” with what’s going on, sometimes it’s okay to take that step; provided both parties are willing.
To support the comic and donate to its Kickstarter, visit BingoLove.net.
Latonya Pennington is a queer freelance writer and blerd. She specializes in pop culture and entertainment and has written for Superselected magazine, The Mary Sue, Black Girl Nerds, and more. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on Twitter, streaming shows, listening to music, reading, and writing poetry.