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Comic Book / Bingo Love

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Bingo Love is a 2018 Kickstarter-funded creator-owned Inclusive Press romance graphic novel (later picked up by Image Comics); in the words of creator-writer Tee Franklin, it's "a queer black love story". Artist Jenn St-Onge (Jem & The Holograms: The Misfits, Nancy Drew), colorist Joy San, and letterer Cardinal Rae rounded out the creative team.

In 1963 New Jersey, 14-year old Hazel Johnson sees new student Mari McCray at a church bingo game. She soon becomes aware that she's romantically interested in the other girl, but given that this is the 1960's, she settles for their being friends. Shortly after they graduate high school, however, they kiss and confess their mutual attraction, but their burgeoning relationship is quickly discovered and the girls are forced apart. Almost fifty years later, they meet again, and now both must decide how to handle their feelings in a world where opinions about same-sex relationships have evolved.

An expanded "Jackpot Edition" was released in late 2018, featuring side stories from several creators that fill in details of Hazel & Mari's lives, and Franklin announced a sequel to be published in 2020 that will reveal more of Mari's backstory.

Bingo Love contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Hazel's and Mari's respective parents and grandmothers did not react well to the two being in love with each other at all. Mari's grandma especially is implied to be rather awful beyond that. Mari saw her kissing a married deacon and told her mom, who didn't believe her. Once Mari's grandma found out, she threatened to kick Mari out of her house and berated her whenever she could.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Upon becoming friends, Mari nicknames Hazel "Elle".
  • All Women Are Lustful: Neither Hazel or Mari are shy about showing their affection once they finally get together.
  • Anachronic Order: The books starts off in 2038, then jumps back to 1963 as Hazel begins her story, and proceeds from there.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: There are several, but perhaps the biggest one is when Hazel and Mari kiss in front of the entire Mother's Day bingo group (after having not seen each other in 48 years).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hazel and Mari die within hours of each other one night, but when Hazel "wakes up" in the afterlife, she finds Mari waiting for her in one of Heaven's bingo halls.
  • Break the Cutie: In 1967, Hazel is devastated to learn that Mari is being sent to The South to get married, even moreso when Mari refuses her plea for them to run away together.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted. Hazel and Mari do both die by the end of the book, but it's due to old age (complications of Alzheimer's Disease for Mari, possibly heart failure for Hazel), and they were married for twenty-two years before their deaths.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Two of Hazel's grandchildren are interracial (African-American and Asian-American).
  • Exiled to the Couch: Hazel does this to James both when he wants to have sex when they're younger (because she doesn't want to have any more children) and then years later when they argue about her and Mari.
  • Feeling Their Age: A nurse at Hazel and Mari's rest home notices that Hazel looks ill, but she assures him she's just tired. She and Mari both die in their sleep later that night.
  • Forbidden Love: Hazel & Mari's relationship in the 1960's. The Christian church (to say nothing of the African-American church) was extremely opposed to homosexuality during that time; being aware of this is part of the reason Hazel hesitates to tell Mari how she feels.
  • Foreshadowing: The story begins with Mari (who's suffering from Alzheimer's Disease) telling Hazel that her parents kicked her out for being gay. This does not happen during Mari & Hazel's story, and is only referenced in the Honeymoon companion book where Mari's children find her old diaries talking about being in love with a girl before Hazel.
  • The Fundamentalist: To say that Hazel and Mari's families don't take kindly to finding out the girls kissed would be putting it extremely mildly.
  • Future Society, Present Values: Anti-LGBTQ prejudice still exists in 2038, as evidenced by Hazel's young friend having been kicked out of her home for being gay. Slightly subverted in that Hazel's friend is actually Mari, who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's and is remembering what happened when she and Hazel were teenagers. So it's not clear what the future society's stance on queer people is.
  • Happily Married: Hazel & Mari are for twenty-two years before their deaths.
  • Hate Sink: Mari's grandma and Hazel's grandma are both rather judgmental and domineering and hold no role in the story than to keep the girls apart from one another when they're teenagers. Mari's grandma is a hypocrite who espouses homophobic abuse at her granddaughter while not feeling ashamed of making love with a married man (which would also be considered "Sinful"). Hazel's grandma says "You disgust me" when she learns of Hazel kissing Mari, and even during Hazel's wedding to James the woman looks nothing but condescending and disbelieving even as Hazel tries to make her happy by following her wishes.
  • Holding the Floor: Hazel's psychiatrist cuts her off when Hazel says that kissing Mari was wrong.
    Loving someone who is the same gender as you is not wrong. Loving someone who identifies as the same gender as you is not wrong. Loving someone who is fluid with their sexuality is not wrong. There are so many various love equations and none of them are wrong. Love is love is love is love.
  • Hollywood Kiss: Hazel & Mari's first kiss when they're eighteen. It's pretty much everything either dreamed it would be.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Played with; Hazel and Mari never do anything until they're both eighteen, partly because neither is certain the other feels the same way. And then when they do kiss, they quickly get found out and split up.
  • Hypocrite: Mari's grandma had no problem calling her and Hazel sinners for kissing each other, even though she's been intimate with at least one married deacon.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Aside from the church's dim view of her feelings, this is the other reason Hazel waits to tell Mari how she feels; she'd rather keep Mari as a friend than possibly drive the other girl away if her feelings aren't reciprocated.
  • Imagine Spot: One of Hazel's daydreams involves her and Mari getting married in a full white wedding, both in tradtional gowns.
  • Irony: Hazel's husband James doesn't react well to learning that Hazel's been in love with Mari throughout their marriage, and they fight about it...then when he's calmer the next day, he breaks down and confesses to an actual affair with the man who he was really in love with. In the end, they forgive each other, but do wind up divorcing.
  • Lets Wait Awhile: Though both are consenting adults by the time they decide to rekindle their relationship, Hazel & Mari both decide to hold off on sleeping together for the first time until they can sort out their personal lives.
  • Married to the Job: Mari's husband is such a workaholic that she and their children could only count on him really being around on their birthdays and holidays. A side story in the Jackpot Edition shows that Mari herself can be this, the implication being that she never really noticed because he was the same way.
  • Meaningful Background Event: After Hazel confesses her feelings for Mari to James, he goes downstairs to send their kids home. On the way, he stops and turns their wedding photo face down, indicating that he suspects things aren't going to work out.
  • Mirror Character: Hazel and her husband were both in love with someone of the same gender they identified with and kept it a secret for decades. The difference being James cheated on Hazel with Adam Nguyen for twenty years until Adam's wife found out. That being said, James realizes divorcing Hazel is the best thing he can do for her since she'd finally be with the person she truly loves the way he wishes he was with Adam.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: The essence of Hazel's plea to Mari after they're seen kissing. Mari says she has no choice and tells Hazel to forget about her.
  • Queer Romance: Hazel & Mari, James & Adam.
  • Seen It All: When Mari and Hazel kiss after seeing each other again after so long, among the onlookers who are shocked, surprised, and angry, there's at least one woman looking at them with a subdued but happy expression.
  • Sexual Karma: Hazel's love life with Mari is considered genuinely more fulfilling than with either of their ex-husbands. A bonus story reveals the two take the liberty of getting tested and learning about the proper ways to have safe sex to make their experiences more enjoyable once they were able to be together.
  • Silver Vixen: Mari in her late sixties is still quite the looker.
  • Slut-Shaming: Comprises a rather large part of the lecture Hazel receives from her mother and grandmother after they find out she kissed Mari.
  • Spanner in the Works: After several years of each ignoring their attraction to the other, Hazel and Mari finally admit their feelings...but Mari's grandmother sees them kissing and she wastes no time informing Hazel's grandmother, who then tells her parents. The girls are forbidden to see each other again, Mari is sent to The South, and both are pressured into heterosexual marriages.
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: Franklin, St-Onge, & San went out of their way to give the various characters in the story a large variety of facial features and skin tones.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Hazel & James' children. Their oldest son Isiah looks like James, their youngest son Joshua looks like a mix of them both, and their daughter Marian looks like Hazel.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. By the time Hazel's reunited with Mari she'd been seeing a therapist for a number of years. In fact, Hazel's doctor is the first person to tell her that loving Mari is not wrong and Hazel has the right to love whomever she wants regardless of gender. Hazel also mentions her family attended therapy together after she and James divorced.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The book is framed as a narrated flashback by Hazel, who is telling her story to a young friend in 2038. As such, Franklin takes several currently burgeoning advances to their logical end, such as augmented reality displays and interfaces, and basic home-assistance robots (like an automated fire control system). Additionally, Hazel has a necklace which projects a holographic image of her eighteen-year old self to Mari, whose advancing Alzheimer's Disease prevents her from recognizing Hazel otherwise.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Hazel's daughter Marian is not happy to see her mother kiss another woman at a church function, and isn't shy about letting Hazel know it. Isiah later rips into James when he confesses to also loving someone else.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: The reaction of Hazel and Mari's families when they find out the girls kissed. Not surprising, given that this part of the story is set in an African-American church community in 1967.