By Ben Snyder
In the fewest words possible, Bingo Love is sweet which is perfectly all right. It’s a romantic, real, and brisk retelling of queer love. But that’s pretty much all it is. It’s so sweet that it’s saccharine. It’s so sweet that all obstacles feel inconsequential, if even obstacles at all. This is refreshing and love is great and all that jazz, but it ended up being a pretty boring read.
The most significant aspect of Bingo Love is that it finally depicts a queer black romance between women. Tee Franklin’s script doesn’t add much nuance to this selling point though. The entire story reads like a retelling of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray’s love story from Hazel’s perspective. The setup is corny, and the climax (if there is one) is corny, but you should be expecting this not a high stakes action thriller.
And Bingo Love handles the corniness well. It rarely lingers on any specific life moment particularly long enough for the sweetness to turn off any reader. Whenever a new wrinkle comes in between our two heroines. Hazel speeds past it as if nothing ever happened. This fast run through also works against the story, as we never really see the two characters’ love develop. There were certain parts of the book where I even doubted if the two characters were soul mates.
Perhaps my biggest gripe story content wise is that certain plot points are specifically left out in order to fill other side stories. While I am positive this practice takes place in numerous other comics in order to provide filler for future arcs. Bingo Love is the first time I’ve ever seen writers advertise side stories in the main story explicitly. Tee Martin leaves out what Hazel’s ex husband James’s secret was for a side story and it feels really cheap. I understand that this story started out on kickstarter and the creators needed to create additional stories. But purposefully hiding details from readers seems really underhanded to me. Once again, it also doesn’t help that whatever James’s secret was seemed to be so important that whatever fight they were having was resolved because of it.
Jenn St-Onge’s art is passable if nothing else. It resembles online tumblr art, which is fair to expect because that is how this story started. But it also doesn’t add anything new. There were a couple parts where St-Onge played around with the page layout, which worked really well. Her lack of panels when showing the passage of time added to the fast pace of the story. And some of her splash panels looked like new school renaissance paintings, as it captured everyone’s reaction to a central shocking event or revelation. But these instances are few and far between.
Stories like Bingo Love are vital to comic books as an industry. More diversity can only produce more varied and phenomenal stories and for this reason Bingo Love is a marvel. We need more and more voices such as Tee Franklin’s to take center stage. And Bingo Love is an adequate enough introduction into the realm of comic writing. It isn’t horrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s simply not a knock out, which is perfectly fine.