Asselin is announcing this morning the launch of a $28,000 Kickstarter campaign (going live…now) that aims to help Rosy Press publish the first issue of Fresh Romance, a digital comic magazine that the imprint says will contain tales ranging from “a queer high-school love affair” to “Regency-era romance.”
“I’ve known for a long time that the dream for me was not necessarily moving up an editorial chain at a company, but in doing my own thing,” Asselin told Comic Riffs in an exclusive first interview about Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance. “It’s always a priority for me to get more women into comics.”
Asselin considers women ages 18 to 25 to be one of the fastest-growing audiences in the comic-book industry — a demographic transition that she said is also bringing “great new blood” into the professional side of the field.
“A lot of the creators working with me are in their early 20s, and they grew up on manga and anime and they want to make their own comics, but a lot of them have a style that it’s harder for them to break into a place like DC [Comics],” Asselin said. “This year, it’s getting a little better, but in years past, it’s been harder for them to appeal to the traditional publishers.
“I wanted to find a way to publish people who are making comics that I thought were beautiful and interesting,” she said, “that would also appeal to an audience outside of comics.”
As for Kickstarter, Asselin said crowd-funding is more than a means to help provide money for publishing; she also sees it as a way to gauge interest.
Kickstarter “is not just fundraising tool, but a marketing tool in that you have a sustained campaign to talk about what you want to do, and not just ‘Here’s this thing we’ve done — we hope you like it,’ ” Asselin said. “People feel invested because they’re at the ground floor with you.”
(Because Fresh Romance will contain mature content, Asselin said, the comic will have a recommendation that readers be at least 17 years old.)
The goal of Rosy Press, Asselin said, is to attract female readers ages 18 to 35, whether they’re already comics readers or they’ve never picked up a comic book.
“I want this to be a gateway to the entirety of the comics industry,” Asselin said. “I’m sure there are parts of the old guard of comics — the older dudes who read superhero comics who aren’t going to like what we’re doing. It’s not going to appeal to them, and that’s fine.”
Asselin says her fondness for romance comics was first piqued as a youngster when, while working at a comic-book store, when she discovered manga.
“I actually stopped reading all American comics for a couple of years, because I was finding more of what I wanted in manga. I was finding comics that had been created by women and that had romantic storylines,” she said. “There’s something really appealing … [to] comics that have that sort of soap-opera vibe, but sometimes they’re sort of straight sweet romances. It is something you don’t see very often, especially in mainstream comics. You’ll see it in indie-comics but you don’t see it from Marvel and DC, because they focus on the superhero genre. That’s their moneymaking genre.
“There’s definitely a hole in the American comics industry … ,” Asselin said. “We’re not trying to do Americanized manga. We’re doing American romance comics. And I think that’s something that people haven’t really done since the ’50s and ’60s.”
Fresh Romance will be an anthology magazine, with each issue having three 10-page stories. Some stories will be ongoing and will last multiple issues; others will conclude after their initial offering.
Asselin admitted to being excited for the three creative teams that will be introduced with the Rosy Press/Fresh Romance launch:
Kate Leth (Kate or Die), Arielle Jovellanos (Five) and colorist Amanda Scurti will craft a romance about a lesbian high-school couple who use false affections toward a high school boy to mask their true relationship.
Sarah Kuh, Sally Jane Thompson (Red Jack) and colorist Savanna Ganucheau will create a tale of a supernatural barista trapped in a world she can’t leave unless she helps others find love.
Sarah Vaughn (Alex + Ada) and Sarah Winifred Searle (Smut Peddler) — whom Asselin affectionately calls “the Sarahs” — will produce Fresh Romance’s Regency-era romance, dealing with a couple preparing for marriage despite not being the least bit fond of each other. Asselin said “the Sarahs” put a lot of work into making sure the Regency-era look came off as authentic, and hopes fans of that subgenre will enjoy it.
Asselin, who plans to launch Fresh Romance in May, said that the first issue should be complete as the Kickstarter campaign concludes, noting that all scripts have been written and that it is just a matter of making sure Rosy Press has the funding to go beyond the first issue.
Rosy Press will offer multiple digital avenues for readers to acquire Fresh Romance, including the Rosy Press website and ComiXology. Asselin said that digital was the only way to go for publishing, believing it to be the optimal way to reach the most readers.
“We’re digital entirely, with no plans for print,” Asselin told Comic Riffs. “It’s way more accessible, and I’m interested in bringing new fans into comics. And I think it’s way more accessible than asking them to go to a comic shop.”
Asselin also plans to encourage submissions as Rosy Press grows. As she’s reached out to other creators to work with Rosy Press, she’s been encouraged by the response.
“I’ve approached more people than we’ve announced, so we have many future plans,” Asselin said of possible future contributors “A lot of them have been like, ‘I’ve always wanted to do romance comics!’ I’m talking people who are established pros in the industry that could probably do whatever they want, you would think, and now are so excited at the opportunity to do romance comics.”
So will Asselin write her own scripts, adding to Rosy Press’s romantic tales?
“I am not going to be doing any writing,” she replied. “I enjoy doing journalistic writing, and I’ve also written a book about increasing sales of comics to women that’s being shopped around.
I’m not a comics writer,” Asselin continued. “I’m one of those editors — my passion is editing more than it will ever be writing. I’m all about bringing in other people and letting them tell their stories.”