I Would Ship That: A List of Great Comic Book Romances

Callum Waterhouse ’18- Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer


Valentine’s Day has come and gone. We hope you enjoyed the day by buying effigies of all of your past heartbreaks while dancing around a fire.  But if you are the sort that prefers to spend the day cuddling up with a good comic book, Emertainment Monthly has you covered.  

There was a time, still fresh in many people’s memories, where comic books handled romance with the same degree of subtlety it handled everything else.  That is to say, none whatsoever.  But as comics have evolved to tell a broader range of stories, it was only inevitable that a few creators would end writing some enduring love stories.  

Perhaps because there is such a broad perception that the “love story” in comics is just a simple throwaway, we at Emertainment Monthly have assembled a list of great romances from the pages of comics that were essential to the stories they appeared in.  Hopefully this list will help you give you some gift ideas for that special someone.  


  1. Craig and Raina: Blankets by Craig Thomson
    Image Credit:
    Image Credit: Craig Thomson

Starting off this list is one of the most memorable and authentic love stories in recent memory.  Craig Thomson’s breakout semi-autobiography details the development and eventual dissolution of the author’s first love.  There is a remarkable degree of honesty with which Thomson writes about teen romance.  He is able to capture all of the emotional highs and lows, the awkwardness and the soaring freedom.  

What gives this story the bite that is lacking in so many stories of teen love is its willingness to approach sexual desire in a way that is frank but never crude.  Craig, as we see him in the story, is not a horny, neurotic simpleton, nor is he a virginal ken doll that we so often see young characters divided into.  He and Raina are drawn as just two people who are trying to understand how love and sex works when then still do not know who they are.  


  1. Scott and Ramona: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
    Image Credit:
    Image Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley


What more needs to be said about this iconic couple, which has been catapulted into the pop culture zeitgeist thanks to the 2010 movie adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels.  Perhaps the reason so many fans have resonated with this particular coupling is that serves as a fairly common idea of wish fulfillment among young males, namely to become the modern day knight fighting for the love of a beautiful woman.  

The reason the Scott Pilgrim series managed to stay around, however, is that Scott is no white knight and Ramona is far from a damsel in distress.  Indeed, what gives these books their staying power is how dynamic these two characters are and how they change over the course of the story.  Throughout the six Scott Pilgrim books, readers witness a beautifully organic transformation of Ramona from icy misanthrope to reluctant hero and Scott from nerd to…well, slightly more heroic nerd.  


  1. Bigby and Snow: Fables by Bill Willingham
    Image Credit:
    Image Credit: Bill Willingham

This list would be naked without at least one proper fairy tale romance.  Of course, nothing in the world of Fables is typical, fairy tales or otherwise.  Willingham’s reimagining of the world of myth and legend is all about subverting expectations.  It is a world where princesses can grow up to be powerful businesswomen and where your prince charming may turn out to be a philanderer.  

So it is only fitting that the major plotline that underpins all the espionage and mystery, all the high fantasy and urban drama is the love between the former Big Bad Wolf and the jaded Snow White.  They are not a typical couple and their story is not a typical fairy tale courtship.  Instead, theirs is a torrid, often painful romance, filled with all of the problems that come with modern relationships.  They may not get to live happily ever after, but at least they seem happy.  


  1. Mal and Molly: The Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
Image Credit: Noele Stevenson
Image Credit: Noelle Stevenson


What would a story about the most exciting summer ever be without a young, summer love.  Like everything else in The Lumberjanes, Mal and Molly’s romance defies the simplistic conventions of characterization.  Neither of them is the smart one, the brave one, or even the tomboy.  They both have their strengths and weaknesses.  They both have moments of triumph and vulnerability and they both help each other grow stronger.  

While anything involving queer romance in comics is considered subversive these days, perhaps the most subversive thing about Mal and Molly’s relationship is how little attention the story draws to it.  Their love for each other is there for everyone at camp to see, but no one feels the need to comment on it.  The story is not about their relationship, but the fact that they are a couple is not unimportant either.  It merely exists, holistically as part of the larger, grander story.  


  1. Jesse and Tulip: Preacher by Garth Ennis
    Image Credit: Garth Ennis
    Image Credit: Garth Ennis

When people talk about Garth Ennis’ Preacher, they hardly ever call it a love story.  When most people talk about this comic, they talk about the dark, mindbogglingly subversive humor or the over-the-top violence.  Which is a shame because many of the best moments of the series stem from the relationship between protagonist Jesse Custer and his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip O’Hare.  

Their relationship is not a perfect one.  These are not perfect people.  To stay together they both have to overcome betrayals, egos and the seismic weight of their own pasts…not to mention a small army of psychotic gunmen.  But when Jesse tells Tulip “I will love you until the end of the world” he means it.  Nuff said.  


  1. Asterios and Hana: Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Image Credit:
Image Credit: David Mazzucchelli

This list started out with the blossoming of young love and so, it was only fitting to end it with the fiery destruction of middle aged love.  David Mazzucchelli’s brilliant graphic novel Asterios Polyp begins after the eponymous protagonist has divorced his wife Hana.  Over the course of the next few hundred pages, the reader is treated to why their marriage went bad and just what Asterios is going to do about it.  

Mazzucchelli leaves all conventional storytelling at the door for this book.  He starts by ditching all terms of typical chronology and assembles the story of their marriage out of order.  All the while, the book and the characters themselves wax about love, art memory and the millions of ways we can sabotage ourselves and our endeavors.  Watching it all happen, like watching any tragedy is painful, at times suffocating, but in the end Mazzucchelli makes it all feel like Asterios and Hana’s story meant something.  Or maybe not.  Such is life.  


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