Little Heart is the unholy marriage (that’s a joke) of publishing house 2D Cloud and Minnesota’s [MN]Love organization, aspiring to create an engaging and artistic dialogue through comics touching on the loose theme of marriage equality. I’ll preface this by saying that all four of my grandparents are immigrants, and I’m proudly a second generation Californian, but I was absolutely crushed when my beloved Liberal Left Coast didn’t vote-in the last gay marriage bill, and I’m not even gay. I tried explaining to people that it’s difficult living in a period of transition. I have no doubt California will eventually do the right thing, but in the interim we have to endure the hypocritical absurdity. In 50 years, I think history will look back and give us an embarrassed laugh, the same way we do now about the poor ignorant practices that denied women the right to vote, or blacks the same civil rights as everyone else. We’ll eventually see that we evolved from a position that was simply on the wrong side of the issue. As retailer extraordinaire Christopher Butcher points out in his intro, we still need to fight, so bravo to Raighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus for publishing the book and simultaneously placing another feather in the already well-plumed cap of 2D Cloud. Other notable contributors include Michael DeForge, Anna Bongiovanni, Zak Sally, Virginia Paine, and Noah Van Sciver. Those are the names I went in knowing pretty well, but I found so many other great surprises. Tim Sievert turns in some art that feels Craig Thompson-esque, while DeForge highlights how we all learn universal flirting mores, and then complicates matters with same-sex participants. My only real criticism of the project is that it doesn’t have a traditional TOC marking the work by page number, and that makes me crazy! I hate constantly flipping back and forth trying to keep track of where I am and who did what piece. One of the great things about the book is its diversity; some pieces are in color, some in black and white, some are short and some are long, some offer traditional comics panels, some are more collage-y or use free-floating prose, some use straight text as a narrative tool, while some are much more open to interpretation. They’re all comics that show the great versatility of the medium, perhaps like the dynamic nature of human sexuality and relationships themselves. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do comics, they’re all valid. Maybe that’s too obvious an analogy for the comic book literati, but I think it works very effectively and is the underlying message in this project. Some pieces, like Virginia Paine’s, were more concerned with how laws may impact them directly, with the logistics and pragmatics of a thing. Ed Choy and Sam Sharpe used it as an opportunity to show off an incredibly inky and thoughtful artistic style. Tammy Ray’s piece was nearly all text, but it contained some of the most beautiful sentiment: “I am love. I give love. I receive love. I come from love, and I return to love.” Noah Van Sciver’s entry jettisons his autobiographical roots and reveals his hidden talent for straight biography, which will propel the next major phase of his career (“The Death of Elijah Lovejoy” behind him, “The Hypo” coming soon from Fantagraphics. You owe me for that plug, Noah!). His piece deals with miscegenation (basically interracial marriage) which was the preceding significant marriage hurdle society dealt with (one which I’m glad was cleared up, otherwise my own marriage might be invalidated). It’s interesting that the “Loving Ruling” might have laid the grounds for marriage equality if the court allows the same equal protection clause to be used for same sex couples that was used for interracial couples. Sally Madden and Jeremy Sorese offer up a double-tap of entries that have some absolutely amazing color work. At this point, I’d basically buy anything Sorese did based on the strength of this entry. I was an instant fan of his atypical layouts and the lettering that had just as much variation and artistry as his figure work. This is surely Grade A+ work and that’s what good anthologies should do, lure you in with familiar strong names, and then expose you to something new to convert you to fandom. Joseph Remnant offers up what I guess is the token straight piece (ha!) with a Joe Sacco level of detail in what has to be one of the most honest and revealing and subtle, and let’s just say “greatest,” love stories ever committed to the medium. I loved the little touch at the end, which was a recommended reading list by some of the contributors in this project, and beyond. Aside from that pesky TOC debacle, I strongly recommend this book. It’s a great batch of comics, with an even greater mission. Grade A.