Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy

By Brian Wolf, Orion, Ver, Shaina Lu, Rhiannon Rasmussen

159 ratings - 4.17* vote

HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists who identify as a non-binary gender! Across time and cultures, humanity has spun tales about the forest: tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. Some of those stories persist as the folklore and fairy tales that delight our imagina HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists

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Book details

Hardcover, 282 pages
March 2019 by Power & Magic Press
Original Title
Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy
ISBN
0998490423 (ISBN13: 9780998490427)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Holly

Aw, I really enjoyed this! My favorites were The Beast in the Garden, Love Letters, In the Branches, In the Soil, Shepherd, Morel Support, The Lungs of Jeju, and Shuvah (Return). It was a really nice collection of pretty black-and-white graphics, inclusive casts, and a wide variety of stories.Rating: 3.5 stars!

Dax

This is a beautiful collection of amazing works by many queer authors/artists/cartoonists. I rather enjoyed all of the creativity and the uniqueness of each tale. I appreciate the breakdown at the very back of the book of potential trigger warnings and it's call for self care. Whether these tales are windows or mirrors there is something for everyone, especially those who love the fantastical and representation.

Emily

comics anthology centered around non-binary characters and ~*fairies*~ (or i guess more generally, supernatural stuff, frequently in the woods).

first off, this anthology book is very beautiful (physically). the hardcover has gilt edges (fancy!!!), and feels really thoughtfully put together. there are 22 stories (avg 12 pages each), and having read a few other comic anthologies recently, I feel I can say somewhat confidently that this is a well-curated collection of comics — the quality of comic craft is, generally, very high.

I do want to note that the "non-binary" label here is pretty loose (and largely implied). I don't think that's a bad thing (in fact I found it kind of neat, like "who's NB here? frankly, it could be anyone! and that's swell")! however, I do think that if some of these stories were read outside of the context of this anthology, the NB aspect might get lost.

I started listing out the stories I enjoyed most and ended up with a list that was over half of the stories in the book (and largely with comments like "I loved the style of this comic", repetitively, and then additionally comments about animals rendered in the comics), so uh, yeah! a very well-curated collection indeed.

I've tried to whittle down to my top... 6. in the order they are in the book:
-Blât (chlove): loved the critter designs and the general comedic sensibility, feels like it could be a nice set-up for a series
-The Beast in the Garden (Ver): THAT CAT(?)!!! loved the style of this. also: funny.
-Shepherd (Cori Walters): SHEEP. very short and lovely.
-This Far (Lee Lai): I'm repetitive af, but I loved the style of this as well. a quiet and intimate conversation, about... becoming a tree. (I do kind of question the mapping of "becoming a tree" to "transitioning". it's the type of thing that's interesting in fiction and potentially infuriating IRL)
-Morel Support (Ashanti Fortson): SO lovely. a good ol' family plant+mushroom adventure.
-The Lungs of Jeju (Sunmi): loose and specific (in the storytelling) and really, really lovely. kind of a quentin blake-like sensibility to illustration.

additional shout-out to "Dear Paloma" (Polly Guo), which was very weird and silly, in the best way.

bye

Dana

I loved almost all of the art in these graphic short stories, but I can't say same for the stories. Some of the stories were cute and wholesome while others barely made any sense and constantly switched narrative tones despite being less than 10 pages long.

I do appreciate the diversity found in these stories though– not only of characters' identities, but of themes, settings, storytelling devices, and genres. Even though this was a pretty specific anthology (fantasies set in forests featuring non-binary characters) there was room for a lot of creativity and that showed in the breadth of the stories.

My favorites were
- "The Beast in the Garden" by Ver– teenage romance story, all the squealy feels and sarcastic humor
- "In the Branches, in the Soil" by SJ Miller– about loneliness and the way it drives us to change ourselves to please others
- "Dear Paloma" by Polly Guo– graphic novel version of a shit post, meme humor that comes with a surprisingly deep moral

Even though I can't praise the quality of every single on of these stories, I do highly recommend picking this up! We need more stories filled with representation, and especially give attention (and $$$) to the voices of marginalized creatives making beautiful work ?

Rasak

Most of the comics are really nicely drawn and stories are nice too. Although it's funny that some of the stories have similar plots, like bags get stolen in the forest in at least 3 stories. It's also nice that the book has trigger warnings that is really great practice and I appreciate the effort, but as it's on the last page, I saw it only after reading everything. But only one story I personally found disturbing and not fitting with the rest of the book. Otherwise the book is an easy and nice read.

Ser

After my first read through, I don't really feel like providing a detailed review, but it seems worth writing that I am so glad I bought this book. It is so full of such beautiful and diverse art and such beautiful and diverse non-binary characters, struggling and triumphing and simply being themselves. Sometimes I find it stunning just how much wealth we can put in each other's hands by publishing a book. This is one of those times.

S.M.

Great collection of short comics.

Rachel Morrison

A lovely comic anthology! It's nice to see so many different art and story styles.

Khai

I loved the stories in this comic anthology. Beautiful illustrations, strong nonbinary characters, enchanting tales, by nonbinary artists and authors - I love it and highly recommend it!

Charles

Such a good collection! A mix of fun and serious but just all around a stunning read. SO PRETTY!!!

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