If you spend much time on Tumblr—and who doesn’t, these days—there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least one of Melanie Gillman’s gay fairy tale 24-hour comics. They’re well-loved on the microblogging social media, and for good reason. With simple but beautiful panels, an enchanting storybook feel, and a tender heart at the center of all of them, it’s hard not to stop and read each all over again whenever they pop up on the dashboard. You can go read all four 24-hour comics on Gillman’s personal Tumblr (including my favorite, “Hsthete”), but you can also find them in their recently published anthology Other Ever Afters.
As a proper graphic novel anthology, Other Ever Afters adds three new fairy tale comics to the four Gillman was already known for. The additions match in tone and style quite well, and it was a delight seeing the originals existing outside of a computer screen. It’s a beautiful book, hefty in the hand and bursting with color. The stories themselves are sugar-sweet romances, chaste but decidedly queer. A quiet longing runs through many of them, a sense of things being not quite right—seeing this familiar queer dilemma resolve with a fairy tale’s characteristic turn comes with a slight subversive thrill and a good deal of warm fuzzies each time. The addition of an illustrated introduction and epilogue was a particularly nice touch, one which I think pulls the entire book together in a wonderful way.
Other Ever Afters is the perfect kind of graphic novel to own, to have at disposal any time you’d like to read a short, sweet, queer fairy tale romance. Even if you have no plans to buy it though, I’d recommend checking out a copy from your local library, just for the experience of reading these stories in print for the first time.
Samantha Lavender is a lesbian library assistant on the west coast, making ends meet with a creative writing degree and her wonderful butch partner. She spends her spare time playing and designing tabletop roleplaying games. You can follow her @LavenderSam on tumblr.